PEGY 

the UK based support organisation for those
 involved with parenting and teaching 

Profoundly & Exceptionally Gifted Youth
PEGY Home.

 

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HOME EDUCATION

It sounds like a drastic, and possibly terrifying, solution to the problem of securing an appropriate education for exceptionally and profoundly gifted children... Nevertheless, many parents of exceptionally and profoundly gifted children find themselves forced into home education when the schools are unable or unwilling to provide an appropriate education for their child.

 

It is far from the case, however, that home education should be seen as a final, almost unthinkable, counsel of despair. What starts as a ‘last resort‘ can become a joyous and life enhancing experience for both parent and child. Research indicates, moreover, that Home Education for children of all abilities can be a highly successful option, in which children benefit greatly from the freedom to develop their skills at their own speed. Furthermore, ‘families valued the freedom and flexibility that home-education brought them and many families reported not having realised that home education would be so fulfilling and so much fun‘ (Rothermel, 2002: see below ‘What does the research say?‘)

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:

 

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

 

(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

 

Section 7 of The Education Act 1996 (England and Wales)

Benefits for the exceptionally and profoundly gifted child

 

Far from the common ‘hot-housing’ image often evoked in the media by the concept of home educating gifted children, home schooling can actually allow the exceptionally or profoundly gifted child to spend less time on traditional curriculum work.

 

This is possible because learning at home is more time efficient, is matched more precisely to the child‘s needs, is delivered on a one-to-one basis and can also free the child, to a large extent, from the seemingly endless treadmill of unnecessary repetition demanded by the school system.

With more time available, curriculum subjects can be studied in great depth, and many more academic subjects (from anthropology to zoo management) and non-academic activities (music, carpentry, knitting) can be pursued. There can also, importantly, be much more time available for free play.

It is possible, therefore, to slow a child‘s progress through the traditional curriculum while avoiding boredom and yet still enabling them to learn at their own pace – though of course, if the child is passionately interested in a school curriculum subject and allowed to learn at their own pace, progress is likely to be swift.

One very important additional consideration is that the needs of the twice exceptional child (that is—a child who is both exceptionally gifted, and yet who suffers from a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dysgraphia) can be catered for in a much more targeted, effective and sympathetic manner in a home educating environment.

  - The tailored curriculum that these families adopted meant that they could mix and match whatever learning and social opportunities they most valued. They could take advantage of education discounts and visit museums, swimming pools, libraries etc. when there were no crowds, whilst also, if they wanted, opting into home-education get-togethers, afterschool classes and other activities where there was plenty of opportunity to be with other children.

 

   - Common to all families involved was their flexible approach to education and the high level of parental attention received by the children. Children benefited from the freedom to develop their skills at their own speed.

 

The study also:

 

   - ’raises the question of why is there so much current emphasis on external provision when this may be inferior to what parents can provide in a home-based setting.‘

 

Critics of this research will point out that it is based on a volunteer sample group of children under 11, and that there is no ‘control‘ group (- nearly always impossible in this type of research). Nonetheless, it does demonstrate that for a large number of determined families, home education can work triumphantly, and that it is a viable option to consider.

 

The full text of this report can be found here.

 

 

 

 

To start finding out more about home education, see:

 

HEAS

 

EO

 

 

 

 

Recommended reading:

 

Debunking the Myths of Home Schooling

By Lisa Rivero, M.A.

 

Creative Home Schooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families by Lisa Rivero

 

Homeschooling with Profoundly Gifted Kids

by Kathryn Finn

 

Homeschooling Highly Gifted Children by Kathi Kearney, Gifted Education Consultant

 

Homeschooling Has Social Advantage,

And

Socialization: A Great Reason Not to Go to School. Research on Homeschooling Socialization for those worried about “socialisation”

 

On University entrance:

In a Class by ThemselvesStanford has found that the brightest homeschoolers bring a mix of unusual experiences, special motivation and intellectual independence that makes them a good bet to flourish on the Farm.” (ie at Stanford University, one of the top Universities in the USA and the world)

 

“MIT has a long history of admitting homeschooled students, and these students are successful and vibrant members of our community.” from MIT Associate Director of Admissions - read more

 

Alex Dowty, Oxford University undergraduate, says

"University is a shock to everyone, but being home educated probably helped me settle in more quickly than some people, who felt uncomfortable initially with the change from more directed learning," he says. "Every week we attend a tutorial. At the end, we are given a list of 20 books to read for the next week, which you have to get on with. It's great, like home education but with tutorials." - read more

 

 

Online support:

 

Gifted-home-ed-ukIf you're home educating your gifted child or considering home education as a possible option for your family this is the group for you.

 

TAGMAX, A USA based list for those homeschooling gifted children:

“Our community uses Internet communications to bring people of like minds together to share their experiences. It has been, at times, a life-line Tagmax: part of the TAGFAM on-line support community

Home educating gifted and talented children”

 

 

Points to consider on the decision to home educate:

 

- Your own temperament and your relationship with your child. Would your relationship permit you to ‘teach‘ your child yourself, without undue friction; or would you need to employ tutors for the more formal aspects of any curriculum you might follow? (Note, though, that many families find relationships improve enormously when the child is no longer in school, and that some families do not ‘teach’, but rather find resources to help the child to teach themselves);

 

- The considerable sacrifice and demands upon your time that this will entail. Do not underestimate this. You will need to be flexible, and sufficiently organised to keep a programme of educational, sporting and social activities rolling for your children;

 

- Whether your child has already outstripped your ability to facilitate his learning. A few children may do well with on-line or book courses, but many need subject matter experts and/or tutors to learn from face to face (see Mentoring and tutoring);

 

- The level of support you will receive from close family members if you decide to home educate;

 

- The implications of the potential loss of one income;

 

- Home education does not work for everyone.

 

Home education is not an easy option: it requires dedication, hard work and self-belief. It can also be lonely and isolating if measures are not taken to ensure that contact is maintained with the outside world for both children and parents. Taking over the responsibility for educating your child can be a source of stress and worry.

You will almost certainly need to develop a thick skin: the outside world will not tolerate your decision easily, and there may be days when you yourself wonder whether the struggle is worthwhile, and whether you have made a huge mistake in opting for this life-style.

However, support is available through membership of home education organisations, as well as membership of PEGY.

 

 

 

 

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” - Mark Twain.

Factors which precipitate the decision to home educate

 

A wide variety of factors have driven many parents of exceptionally or profoundly gifted children to home educate their children. Some of the most common are:-

 

- When negotiations with individual schools and the education authority have failed and the child continues to be provided with an inadequate education.

 

- When the child has become withdrawn and depressed over a period of time, and is suffering mentally from the lack of suitable intellectual stimulation;

 

- When the child has ceased to wish to study or to learn at school, because of the inappropriate education they are given.

 

- When the child is bullied or ostracised for their differentness, to the point where they no longer wish to attend school.

 

- When the child is exhibiting untypical/anti-social behaviours at school, and/or at home, because of their frustrations, which can lead them to be unfairly labelled as maladjusted in some way.

 

What does the Research Say?

 

A BERA working paper, based on research by Dr Paula Rothermel at Durham University (2002) concludes that there are real advantages to Home Education for children of all abilities. The report‘s key findings, based on the largest survey of its kind in the UK, involving 419 families, were that:

 

  - Home educated children across the board performed academically far better than their                counterparts in school.

 

   - Children who learn at home appear to develop very different skills from those learning in school. Such children integrate easily into a variety of social settings and are accustomed to taking responsibility within their families and to motivating themselves in their day to day activities.

 

   - Results from the psychosocial instruments confirm that home-educated children were socially adept and without behavioural problems. This is a concern most often levelled at those who home educate - but one apparently without foundation in reality for the age-group studied.

 

   - The term home-education is actually misleading. Home was very much a base from which activities could be planned. There was no evidence to suggest that any families used the home in the way that a school uses a classroom.

 

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