Some ideas on the nexus of homeschooling and gifted children
The following groups may provide useful information and contacts regarding home schooling in Australia:
- Australian Home Education Association Inc - major website resource and contacts information
- A to Z's Home's Cool Homeschooling Web Site - international rather than Australian but a good resource
- Australian Home School discussion list - active Yahoo Group
- Christian Homeschooling in Australia discussion list
- Eclectic Home Educators discussion list - not Australian, but avowedly open to all
The following may be of limited use - it is an email from a friend who was homeschooling her gifted child - explaining a little on the why and how she does it. Of course this is not the full story - there are lots of families and ways that homeschooling is undertaken, and issues for gifted children such as university entrance that concern others.
"These are swimming lessons until age 8. After age 8 it is a swim team. I don't know of any public schools that have swim team for 7 year olds, either. If you're not a swimming fan, there are soccer leagues that aren't affiliated with the schools. There are gymnastics teams. We enjoy boating activities such as tubing, knee-boarding, and water-skiing. We snow-ski. There is T-ball and Little League, PeeWee football, YMCA, and on and on. Sports are not an invention of the public school.
Music? When I was in high school, I was in the city Youth Symphony. I played in the orchestra in the city's Civic Theater's musical productions. I competed in all the state music competitions. I took private lessons. Music is not an invention of the public school. Drama? Same deal. The city has drama productions.
Art? There are private classes advertised everywhere. This is getting repetitious, but art and drama are not inventions of the public school.
Academics? I can teach them better myself. Much better. Far better. Way, way better. I wouldn't ever try to talk you into homeschooling your kids. Why do you feel you'd have to be trained in everything? I can't teach my kids gymnastics, swimming, and soccer, so I send them off to somebody better qualified. I can't teach them to play a piano, so I provided them with a MIDI keyboard and piano software. Later this year, when they've outgrown that, I'll send them to a private instructor. I don't know any foreign language, but we're learning German together from computer software, audio tapes called The Learnables, German children's storybooks, audio music tapes, etc. I've forgotten most of the history I ever learned, but we can all read. Their history teachers are the people who wrote all those excellent history books. My sister, the history buff, conducts "history week" when she comes for her annual visit. Science? I understand and remember all the basic elementary science. Bill Nye, Science Guy, does a pretty fantastic job of teaching science. Again, we can read science books. Math? I'm quite strong in math, so that's not a problem. Even if it were, there are excellent textbooks such as Saxon that are available to homeschoolers. English? Again, I'm pretty good, but there's always the help of thousands of people who have written books on the topic. There are subjects we're weaker in than others, but there is no subject they can learn better from an elementary school teacher. Here's a quote from a parent today over in the gifted child section of the edforum.
(How many times have you read this?) <<My first grader is bored beyond tears in class. He has already read every book that he was supposed to this year, and while the rest of the class is working on simple addition, he yearns for multiplication and division (he seems to understand the concepts of grouping, sets, etc.). His teacher does what she can to keep him occupied, but after chaperoning a field trip with his class, I can see that she has her hands full too.>>
WE DON'T HAVE THIS PROBLEM! My 2nd grader is working out of a 6th grade math textbook. He spends only 30 minutes a day doing math, and he is finishing 3 lessons per day. He probably will slow down this pace at some point, but maybe not. Who knows. The point is, there's no question of "Is he being pushed?" or "How do I convince the teacher he's ready to learn multiplication?" He just sits down and works at a nice, relaxed pace. If he starts acting bored, we can find him something more challenging. If he ever starts acting like he's burning out (it happens occasionally), we can slack off for a while.
There's a huge world out there, and I want my children to drink from it (and they love it). I'm glad they're enjoying their life. Yes, there's a huge world out there. We're living in it. A school building is a very small area in proportion to the rest of the city. Life goes on outside of that building. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like your impression of homeschoolers is a family holed up in their house reading books. In truth, I *am* hoping to hole up for the next bitter 2 months of this Michigan winter, but during the rest of the year, we spend huge amounts of time outside the confines of our house.
If the goal is to participate in a mathmatical discussion involving different outlooks on the same problem, then you'd have a hard time doing that just anywhere. A gifted child in a public school doesn't have many people to discuss his math with. I didn't discuss math with anybody but my father until I was in a 9th grade geometry class. Does a gifted 1st grader receive any benefit from a discussion of 5 apples + 4 apples being 9 apples? (How many different outlooks are there to this problem anyway?) Here at home, we can discuss math at whatever level the children are at.
-Eric, Becky, Zak (8), Erica (7), Peter (5), Kevin (3), and Hayley (2) "