Online classes and programs are becoming increasingly popular for highly gifted homeschoolers and for parents considering homeschooling for the first time, however, it comes with a lot of questions that aren’t so obvious at first glance. As technology continues to surge and we acclimate into an ever-expanding online world, many parents are beginning to see the benefits of incorporating this learning option, especially for profoundly gifted students. A number of important factors related to homeschooling and online schools and programs are covered below.
Which Online Education Options Are Best for Highly Gifted Children?
For gifted students, online programs may deliver material at a faster pace, provide information on niche topics not always offered in a traditional K-12 setting, and offer access to like-minded peers.
Davidson Gifted Education Options:
Davidson Academy Online
Davidson Academy Online is a dynamic, flexible option for profoundly gifted students living anywhere in the United States and Canada. Students are part of an accredited, robust online community and are grouped by ability, not age. Davidson Academy Online leverages cutting-edge technology to create a new, highly personalized model of online education. The middle and high school level curriculum is matched to students’ abilities, strengths and interests. This unique approach to learning has attracted families from across the country and globe.
Benefits of Davidson Academy Online
- Provides the opportunity to take advanced courses and access instructors with specializations that may not be available locally. This is coupled with our advanced teaching methods, which focus on creating an environment for higher-order thinking skills, challenging students to think creatively and critically, and express themselves effectively.
Grouped by Ability and Age
- The only school designed specifically for profoundly gifted students with courses grouped by ability, while also providing the opportunity to interact and learn with their intellectual, same-age peers.
- Classes have two 90-minute synchronous sessions per week. During these live sessions with video conferencing, students and instructors are required to have their video cameras on and their microphones ready to go.
Researched & Proven
- Built after three years of researching best practices in online gifted education, then incorporating the existing Davidson Academy curriculum and personalized learning honed over the past decade, to design a truly unique online learning experience for profoundly gifted students to give them an appropriately challenging education.
- Students have a plethora of opportunities for socialization with each other in and out of the classroom through Clubs & Activities, as well as a variety of support services for students including technology, counseling, advising and college admissions services.
Learn more about Davidson Academy Online’s unique approach to gifted education.
Explore provides Young Scholars and qualified gifted students, ages 9-13, with the opportunity to enrich their education by taking advanced middle school courses online adapted from the Davidson Academy’s rigorous curriculum. Designed to be different from other online courses, this year-long middle school gifted program helps students develop their academic and social skills by giving them a platform to learn at their academic level.
In addition to the full-time program, Davidson Academy Online also offers English and math courses for single-course enrollments.
See also the Davidson Gifted Blog post, Online Schools for Gifted Children.
How Can I Use Online Homeschool for my Gifted Student?
There is no one-size-fits-all homeschooling approach that is best for every gifted student. Forms of homeschooling can include one, some, or all of the following:
- Taking in-person classes through a school, community college, university, homeschooling co-op, or community organization
- Participating in online classes and other online learning opportunities
- Instruction from a parent in particular areas
- Have a mentor or tutor in other areas
- Pursue independent study, courses, and projects
Some families attempt to recreate school at home via homeschooling. This involves keeping a similar or nearly identical structure, but also allowing families to select curriculum and helping students move at their own pace. Contrastingly, some forms of homeschooling forgo school structures and opt for more non-structured activities that can even be led in part by students.
As described in the Davidson Institute guidebook, Twice-Exceptionality: An In-Depth Resource Guide for Parents, one of the more popular varieties in the gifted community is “eclectic homeschooling” in which families borrow bits and pieces from four different types of schooling.
The Four Types of Schooling:
- Classical education: emphasizes the tools of learning
- Lifestyle learning: treats education as an integral part of any given community
- Mastery learning: is sequential and provides immediate feedback
- Integrated learning: combines several subjects in project format or units of study
Online courses can serve homeschoolers for the entire homeschool curriculum, or they can be used as supplements to stand-alone classes for specific subjects.
Can Online Learning Help Twice-Exceptional (2e) Students?
Online homeschooling offers the flexibility that twice-exceptional (2e) students require to meet their educational needs.
As described in Twice-Exceptionality: An In-Depth Resource Guide for Parents, families can create a flexible system that matches the interests, learning style, pace, and intricacies of their twice-exceptional child. Online learning and homeschooling can also more easily fit around other areas of a child’s life, such as therapy and pre-professional study of the arts or athletics. For some, homeschooling is a long-term educational plan. Others homeschool for a period of time as they take a break from a school system, transition to a different situation, or take time to focus on specific areas of study.
Online Courses Offer Improved Accessibility
In some cases, online courses might be preferred for twice-exceptional (2e) students who use assistive technology, like text-to-speech, or for 2e students who might want to focus on one big subject at a time without all the transitions traditional school imposes.
Davidson Academy Online accepts qualified students who show a sufficient level of academic readiness based on its curriculum-based admissions assessment. In order to offer a high quality and appropriately challenging education to all students, Davidson Academy Online can provide many classroom accommodations to students with demonstrated need. Students who require specialized services from a licensed professional (e.g. speech therapist, occupational therapist) can receive those from their local public school.
Will my gifted child get enough socialization with online homeschooling?
Many parents fear that taking a gifted child out of a traditional school and putting them into a situation in which they are homeschooling or remote learning will lead to isolation, or cause them to miss out on important social skill-building opportunities. However, there are numerous other ways homeschoolers can develop social skills, including through volunteering, involvement in a community group, theater, and athletics, to name a few.
Online schools such as Davidson Academy Online have specific plans in place to assist students with social/emotional skills. Contrastingly, throughout the pandemic, when many brick and mortar schools were forced to adapt to online learning, having such a robust system to assist with this was oftentimes not possible.
With online homeschooling, it’s not about replicating the school structure, it’s about using the unique freedoms of homeschooling to set your child up for success.
Focus on Building Friendships
Friendships for gifted children often bloom out of shared interests, which homeschooling parents can facilitate by signing their children up for youth groups, academic competitions, community classes, and summer programs.
Many families want to look beyond online connections, and many have valid concerns about social media, gaming, and internet usage for their teens. However, there can be ways to leverage technology for positive social connections and peer friendships too, as the article Be social, make friends and play video games describes.
A component of the learning community at Davidson Academy Online is based on exploring, discussing, and supporting the social and emotional needs of students. Throughout the school year, students participate in a variety of activities both online with their classmates and in their local communities. Students have participated in the ongoing guest lecture series, speech and debate tournaments, math and science competitions, writing and art competitions, monthly community meetings, theater, music, and art. Students also participate in many activities in their local communities, including volunteering, competitive sports, music programs, art and theater programs, and more! There is also the opportunity to form student-led clubs.