As any parent trying to find programming for their gifted child knows, keeping a gifted child challenged can be more than a full-time job. Given that public gifted education in the United States is hit-and-miss, with no federal mandate or standardization for meeting the needs of high ability learners, some children may end up frustrated and disengaged in their current setting, losing valuable learning time because they have “maxed out” their district’s offered courses in a particular subject area and generally lacking a meaningful group of peers. Often parents find themselves having to think outside the box to come up with ways to satisfy their children’s intense interests and passion for learning.
As a recent post on MindShift pointed out, online opportunities provide a valuable tool to support gifted students and their families with finding the extra academic challenge they need and cannot find in their area. They also offer ways for students to interact via video conferencing, chat, and online whiteboards. This helps students build a community and make friends, all while sharing their creative ideas and learning from one another. And while cost can be a concern for many parents, many students receive financial aid to take the courses.
While our goal has been to build a brick-and-mortar school for gifted students in our region, we know that many families have turned to online programs when they could not find other solutions for their children. In light of their successes, we are excited to share a project that one of our Advisory Board members has shared with us. Sharon Duncan is a co-reseacher on the Gifted Identity Project, a research study on the evolution of identity in the parents of gifted children. We will be featuring Sharon in an upcoming blog post, but in the meantime wanted to share a project she has been working on pro bono that might be a fit for your gifted learner.
We know that not every gifted student will be ready for college early, but some may be. Her project has been working in conjunction with Azusa Pacific University in Southern California to allow gifted students of any age to take online college courses for full university credit. The role of the Gifted Identity Project, along with The Gifted Education and Support Center and The California Gifted Network, is to work with APU to develop a cohort so that these younger gifted students can be clustered in the same classes, creating a sense of community. She shared that they will be working with the student success counselors and professors to better understand and address issues specific to highly and profoundly gifted young students. Fall offerings include: Philosophy, Introduction to Business, Critical Thinking, Literature, World Civilization, Public Communications, Art, and more. The deadline for fall enrollment is August 3, 2014. While students do not have to join the cohort in order to take classes, if you are interested in your child joining this cohort, please contact them for further information at: AzusaPacificGiftedCohort1@gmail.com. We do not have an affiliation with APU itself, and cannot guarantee whether or not it would be a fit for your child. However, we are always excited to see more resources for gifted students, and wanted to share this information.