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Gifted Learners: Deep, Wide, or Full-Speed Ahead?

Gifted LearnersIf you are homeschooling a gifted learner you have inevitably faced this question.  Should you focus on going deep, wide, or full-speed ahead?  What is the right thing to do?

Acceleration

Going full-speed ahead is a common choice when homeschooling gifted learners.  There are two different ways to go full-speed ahead though.  One way involves going through all the content, but at a rapid pace.  This might involve your child doing all of the grade 4 math curriculum in 1-2 months.  Another method involves jumping ahead, skipping over content and filling in any gaps you might find.  For this, you might skip over the grade 4 math curriculum and start with grade 5 and deal with any gaps in knowledge as they arise.

Deep and wide

Deep and wide learning is another great tool for homeschooling gifted learners.  Going deep into subject matter often involves topics that are not covered in a standard curriculum.  Many who explore topics on a deeper level like to use multiple resources for just one topic to not only cover the necessary content, but to explore the topic fully.

Learning a wide variety of subjects is often a successful option for gifted learners too.  School topics don’t have to be limited to the standard subjects, but can be expanded to explore topics of interest and subjects that aren’t normally taught in school.

What has worked for us

What has worked best for us is an overall deep and wide approach. It is typical for my kids to cover 10+ subjects each school year.  Many of those subjects are explored in-depth and others are just for dabbling.  I like to think of learning as an engaging dance of the mind.  There is so much to explore and appreciate.

Occasionally, we have done some subjects full-speed, accelerating through the content quickly until my child hits a point where things are at a more appropriate level.  More often though, we have done leaps forward, skipping over content to get to a place where my child arrives at a point where there is much more learning going on.

I’ve found that an overall deep and wide approach lends itself well to skipping forward over content.  When you learn a wide variety of things and explore deeply, your knowledge base is stronger.  Because of that, skipping forward in content usually goes off without a hitch.

I know that if things are getting dull and boring with little learning actually happening or the child seems unsettled, it is time to either fast forward through content or skip ahead.   Sometimes we spend years going deep and wide before a big jump.  The jump isn’t determined by any preconceived ideas as to when something should be completed, but on how the child is responding to his/her current learning.

So what is the best way to educate a gifted learner?

It depends on the child.  A good rule of thumb is to choose what would satisfy your child the most.  This will look different from child to child.  There is no single right way to do this.  Some children will love speeding through standard curriculum and be satisfied.  Others will have a need to explore things deeply.

If your child is happy and learning, keep on keepin’ on.  If your child is bored, restless, or not learning much, change something.  Go deep and wide or go full-speed ahead or do a mixture of the two.

Keep your eyes off the grade level designations and keep your eyes on your child.  With a grade-focused society, it is easy to think in terms of grade levels when it comes to learning.  Don’t let yourself be boxed in that way.  Learning doesn’t happen in neat little grade levels anyway.  Find a way to approach learning in a way that satisfies your child.

 

depth and breadth

Be sure to click here to check out what other bloggers have to say about discovering the depth and breadth of giftedness.

 

6 Comments:

  1. “If your child is happy and learning, keep on keeping on.”

    SO TRUE. We often overthink because we see/hear/read what others are doing but these kids are so unique. You have to find what works for you. Great post.
    Cait @ My Little Poppies recently posted…A Tale of Three ReadersMy Profile

  2. I love how you explain the different ways to educate a gifted child. I also love this: “Keep your eyes off the grade level designations and keep your eyes on your child.  With a grade-focused society, it is easy to think in terms of grade levels when it comes to learning.  Don’t let yourself be boxed in that way.  Learning doesn’t happen in neat little grade levels anyway.  Find a way to approach learning in a way that satisfies your child.”

  3. Such perfect advice: “Keep your eyes off the grade level designations and keep your eyes on your child.” Thank you!

  4. I think compacting a curriculum is a great option, but too often families wind up facing the dilemma of what to do once their kid maxes out at whatever grade level their school offers. At that point, casting a wider net of topics within a subject area is a good choice.
    Alessa @ Everday Learning recently posted…Oh, The Humanity of Gifted EducationMy Profile

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      Yes, gifted education in a typical school environment adds an additional layer of complexity because you then have to work “inside the box” of the classroom environment to make things work.

  5. Pingback: Discovering the Depth and Breadth of Giftedness GHF

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