Good curriculum for gifted kids

CurriculumDear GHF,

I am so excited! My daughter was miserable in school, and I finally convinced my husband and mother to support my preference to homeschool. The problem is that my mother was an elementary school teacher, so she wants to make all the decisions about curriculum. She was a good teacher, but this is my child and I want to do what is right for her, not for a classroom 10-20 years ago. What is a good curriculum for gifted kids?

~Fluttery in Florida

Dear Fluttery:

You absolutely need to do what you think is best as a parent; yet, you don’t want to alienate your mother, who could be a terrific source of support, even if her ideas may not be spot-on for your daughter.

Keep in mind: Every child is different. Every gifted child is different, too. As for a good “gifted curriculum,” we encourage you consider what you hope to get from having a curriculum, as well as whether or not a particular one works for you and your child (who needs to be on board with it).

We suggest that you do not spend a lot of money on a curriculum package without first trying it. You may be able to get a sample from a conference vendor, find some lessons online, or get some for free at your homeschool group’s curriculum swap. Once you give it a shot, you could find that the material in some areas is what you want, but is too repetitive or just off-base in others. Further, you may happily spend a lot of money on the assumption that it will cover a year’s worth of work, only to discover that your child has whizzed through it in four months—or four weeks. There are so many free materials out there; you should not have to spend a lot of money to find a good fit. Keep in mind, too, that what worked fabulously at meeting the goals of someone else’s child, might not be right for yours. Take time to experiment a bit.

Bring your mother into the process. Explain what you are looking for and some of your considerations, and see what she thinks. Even if you don’t always agree, she will appreciate your validating her expertise and she may well respect you anew for standing up for your child. Your mother might be hesitant with your choices at first, but she could eventually become your biggest fan.

Of course, you may choose to not use a formal curriculum. Many families begin homeschooling using an approach that closely parallels traditional classroom content, but the longer they are away from the school system, the more non-traditional learning opportunities they discover. There is no such thing as an educational emergency; take your time and find what works best for your situation. Homeschooling will allow you to tailor the learning to the unique needs and interests of your child. Over time, your mother may come to appreciate this, as well.

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