This is a guest post from writer and blogger, Jennifer Landis at Mindfulness Mama.
Raising a gifted child can be challenging. We all want our children to grow and thrive and become better than we are, but when they're struggling because the school curriculum is boring them to tears, it's hard to know what to do. It becomes even more difficult if your school district doesn't have a comprehensive talented and gifted (TAG) program where you can enroll your child. That's where cyber school comes in. What is cyber school, and could it help your gifted child flourish?
Raising a Gifted Child
Raising a gifted child is one of the most challenging and rewarding things that you'll ever do as a parent. It's rewarding because you'll see your little one do more than you ever thought possible, and challenging because they'll struggle while they find their place in the world. Being classified as talented and gifted, or getting slapped with that TAG label early on means that they'll be eligible for programs that will usually challenge them — something that they might struggle to find in regular classrooms — but it also can set them apart and make it difficult to relate to their peers.
Gifted children often have self-esteem issues because being academically advanced makes them a target for their peers. Some studies have shown that the smarter a gifted child is, the more trouble they have with social skills and depression. A cyber school could be a solution to some of these challenges.
What is Cyber School?
Cyber schooling is another name for online education, allowing your student to meet their educational needs with a curriculum that they find both challenging and enjoyable. Contrary to popular belief, students don't need to spend multiple hours every day in front of the computer to complete a cyber education. Instead, many of the programs provide live lessons, workbooks, field trips and more, all designed to help your child thrive.
In many states, online schools are considered a type of public education. Not only does this mean that the lessons will align with the state's curriculum, but that the lessons, books, workbooks, and other materials are shipped to you free of charge. In some cases, cyber school also gives your student the option to work ahead if the material is too easy, or work with IEP accommodations for special education students.
Cyber School for Your Gifted Child
For gifted students, not being challenged in school often gives them the opportunity or the motive to act out, leading to behavioral problems that wouldn't exist if they had lessons that would keep their attention and challenge them. They may also decide that school just isn't worth their time, failing classes that they could easily pass simply because they can't be bothered to put in the effort. Cyber schooling, especially programs that offer accelerated curriculums or advanced lessons, can keep your gifted child engaged with their education.
Many schools and colleges offer extracurricular academic activities and programs designed to keep your gifted child engaged, but if these aren't available in your area or you're concerned about possible tuition costs, a cyber school could be an alternative. Each state has different requirements and offers different programs, so it's important to check with your local school district to see what resources are available in your area.
Getting started with cyber schooling is easier than you might think. Once you've determined what programs are available in your state, your next step is to broach the subject with your gifted child. Do they want to explore other educational avenues that might challenge them more, or are they content with the experiences they are having now? For young children, especially those in elementary school when gifted tests are often administered, switching to a cyber school might be something they aren't interested in because it could take them away from their friends.
Once they've decided to pursue an educational career with a cyber school, all you need to do is start the enrollment process and withdraw them from their current school. The exact details will vary depending on what the program offers, but when you begin enrollment you will usually be put in touch with a counselor or a teacher who can walk you through the process. They will be your best source of information as you make your way into the world of cyber schooling.
Keeping a gifted student interested in learning can be nearly impossible if they're bored with what the school system decides they're supposed to be learning. The trick is to find what they love and use it to keep them interested in learning. For some students, this could mean switching to a cyber school that allows them to work from home at their own pace, or a program that augments what they're already learning in school. You might be surprised how much happier they are once they're properly challenged by what they need to learn.