Enrolling a student in an online school is a big step! If your child is gifted or talented, choosing the online option that will best fit her strengths can make this an even more momentous task.
Gifted children sometimes feel confined by a traditional education environment. The right online school can provide the flexibility, one-on-one instruction and freedom that exceptional students need to explore their passions.
Not all online schools are equal in the opportunities that they offer to their students, of course. How can you be sure that the online school you’re considering has the tools to allow your gifted child to succeed — and exceed?
Here are a few tips to consider as you consider online gifted and talented programs for your child.
Do Your Research.
Begin your research by looking at all of the school’s information available on school district and state Department of Education websites. See how the school’s students perform in state and national exams. Consider the progress scores for the top students. If this information is not available online, contact the schools and ask for it directly.
It’s important to ensure that the school you’re considering has a gifted and talented education program in place that meets the needs of its students. Asking questions is the only way to get the answers that you need.
Questions to ask include:
- How does your school monitor student progress?
- Does your school develop critical thinking skills?
- What percentage of your student body is gifted?
- How do you identify gifted students?
When asking these questions, listen for any inconsistencies. While a school may have several teachers who are able to meet the needs of gifted students, if the school doesn’t have a gifted and talented education program in place, then your child may not receive a consistently positive experience.
Look for “Strategies for Success.”
According to Noodle.com, an online resource that guides parents in choosing the best education options for their children, you should hone in on schools that have “strategies for success.”
Some strategies to look for include:
- Access to Experts and Older Students. Because many gifted children struggle to find others who share their interests and can provide mental stimulation, a mentorship program is important.
- Gifted children typically perform at a higher grade level than their peers, and that can make it difficult for them to build social connections with children their own age. By creating individualized academic programming and allowing students to take part in science, technology, math or other subjects with older children, a school can ensure that their gifted children are engaged.
- Innovative Instruction. Gifted children thrive in an environment where teachers have the freedom to tailor their learning experience to fit their unique strengths and interests.
Find Out More About the Online School.
The type of online school that you choose will greatly impact the kind of education that your child receives. Some things to consider include:
- How the school receives its funding. Is it a private, public charter or university-sponsored school?
- Whether the school is accredited. Will your child receive a diploma upon graduation, or will they be required to attain a GED?
- Who are the teachers? Make sure the teacher qualifications are legit.
- How many of the school’s students attend outstanding colleges and universities after completing the program? If the number is low, that’s a big red flag.
- What costs are associated with the program? Do you feel confident that you’ll get what you paid for?
- How much one-on-one attention will your child receive? Also important: will they have opportunities to connect with their fellow students?
Remember that the Struggle is Real – For Your Child.
According to Mariam Willis, a parent outreach specialist for the National Association for Gifted Children, parents need to make an extra effort to teach their gifted children social skills. That means working with your kids to make sure their socializing in a healthy manner — not just dumping them at soccer practice and hoping for the best.
Looking for an Online School with a Great Gifted and Talented Program?
K12 International Academy offers the ALP program – the Advanced Learner Program – to accommodate the needs of gifted students. This program, which aligns with the guidelines outlined by the National Association for Gifted Children, provides gifted students with many unique educational opportunities, including a variety of curriculum options and extracurricular enrichment activities.