School Options for Gifted Students

Because parents want the best possible opportunities for their children, different school options should be explored. Each type of schooling has positive and negative aspects, and there is no one right solution. The best choice lies within the needs and characteristics of your individual child and your family.

Let’s look at three possibilities: neighborhood school, special school for the gifted, and homeschooling. We will look at these broadly, because even within each of these categories, there can be great diversity. I have listed both advantages and disadvantages for each type of schooling, but these are only possible advantages and disadvantages. Much will depend on the specific situation, including training of teachers, characteristics of individual students, the population of the neighborhood or special school, etc.

Neighborhood School
  • Advantages—This is certainly the most convenient possibility. The school is close. It is probably either walking distance or provides transportation. The school often has before and after school options, which is convenient for working parents. It is often easier for children to make friends in the area. Your child may feel very confident knowing that he is one of the best students in the school. He will be exposed to a wide variety of types of people and, hopefully, learn to get along with those who have different backgrounds, ethnicities, and intellectual abilities.
  • Disadvantages—A gifted child may not find a cadre of intellectual peers at the neighborhood school. She may feel very lonely and set apart from others at the school. Teachers and/or the organization of the school may not be equipped to provide for the higher intellectual needs of the student; therefore, your child may not feel intellectually challenged.
Special School for the Gifted (may be private or public)
  • Advantages—Since the school is designed for the gifted, the curriculum will be more intellectually appropriate and stimulating. Your child will have intellectual peers and challenges. She may be better prepared academically to go on to the next level of education. Teachers are trained specifically to work with intellectually able children and will cover not only more content, but higher level thinking skills.
  • Disadvantages— Transportation may be a problem. There may be additional costs if the school is public. There definitely will be costs of tuition, etc. if the school is private. Your child will probably not be exposed to as great a diversity of children as in your neighborhood school. Your child may feel intellectually average or even below average amongst so many smart kids. High expectations may feel too challenging and stressful.
  • Advantages—Your child can focus on his real strengths. He may advance much more quickly through curriculum and also go more in-depth with it. There may be more time to pursue the study of an instrument or some other nonacademic interest. There is more time to visit museums and other outside educational venues. Your student will be spared from dealing with others who may be unkind or have different values than your family.
  • Disadvantages—Homeschooling is a very large commitment on the part of the parent. If both parents are working or the child is from a single parent home, this may not be possible. Parents may not have the tools to effectively homeschool their child. Parents will need to work harder to provide social interaction. Your child may not have the opportunity to learn to deal with students who are unkind or have different values than your family.

Each of these possibilities has advantages and disadvantages. You will have to look long and hard at your family’s situation. When you do make a decision, be careful not to shut doors behind you. You may try an option and find that it doesn’t work as well as you hoped. You want to leave doors open so you can reverse your decision if you decide that is best.

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