Home schooled children experienced 2.2 of these activities while other children experienced 1.6 enrichment activities.
Home-based education is especially effective for those at either end of the spectrum of ability. Children who are troubled by past indiscretions related to the challenges of the socialization in public schools are finding home-schooling a viable option for their success. Away from the distractions and pressures of the social environment in school and with needed attention of parents many of these students not only pass they begin to excel, and find that their past failures were more a product of the environment than themselves. Though the literature on this is minimal those children who experience excessive bullying in the public school might find home-schooling wherever possible to be a much better alternative than school-based education. There is really no other place in a person's life where bullying behavior is accepted than in school. Avoiding such challenges to self-esteem might allow those children a much better opportunity to thrive than they would if continually beaten down by bullying and social stigmas.
The literature associated with home-schooling gifted children is more plentiful and is associated with a belief that children with great abilities are challenged by the strict and often noncreative curriculum of the public school. It has been found repeatedly that children who are not challenged will reach a state of boredom that causes grades and self-esteem to falter.
Home schooling a gifted child is much like the design of Tristram's novel, a series of seemingly unrelated digressions combined with planned learning that continually move the whole life-long educational enterprise forward with a pace and momentum unique to the individual learner.
Children given the opportunity to challenge their own learning through their own creativity and learning style is an integral part of the reality of home-schooling gifted children.
A significant percentage of the estimated 500,000 to 1.2 million home-schooled children are gifted (Ensign, 1998). Parents cite several reasons for home schooling their gifted children. Sometimes schools are unable or unwilling to meet the intellectual needs of highly able or asynchronous learners. Some children require a smaller and more comfortable environment in which to develop social and emotional skills. Some parents choose home schooling because home-based education can address the needs of the whole child and integrate the child's individual learning styles, pace, and rhythm into the curriculum. For other families of gifted children, in particular families of highly gifted, exceptionally gifted, and profoundly gifted children, home schooling is a last resort after families' other available schooling options have been exhausted without success (Rivero, 2002).
Within the now vast collections of resources for home-schooling parents are many programs and guides tailored to the special needs of gifted and talented children. The needs of such children must be met in such a way that they are engaged and learning at their pace and within their learning styles and many of these programs are a much needed alternative to public school programs. In some cases the same students identified by schools as needing special education for learning disabilities have been found to be profoundly intelligent and simply in need of appropriate stimulus, for some only received at home. ("Innovative Programs and Home Schooling to Meet the Needs of Gifted and Talented Students" 184)
Despite the repeated proof of the effectiveness of home schooling there is still considerable opposition to it, and many parents do not understand the possibilities they might have for home schooling.
We've seen the potential of home-schooling on display again. In the past, we've noticed how creative some folks can be in trying to explain away the success of home-schooling (and home-schoolers) and we've been reminded that some in the news media seem to think the only time home-schoolers come out of the house is for bees.
If you missed it, 12 of 55 national finalists in this year's National Geographic Bee were home-schoolers, with four making the top 10 and three in the top four. The winner was 10-year-old Calvin McCarter, the youngest competitor in the contest, a home-schooler from Grand Rapids, Mich.
("Home-Schooling Spells Success in" B04)
Though for the most part home schooled children are taught by one or both of their parent's in the home environment there are new and exciting opportunities for home schooling, such as home-schooling co-ops where several or more home schooled families link together to benefit from the differing abilities and the increased flexibility of such a system. Though home schooling is clearly a choice not to be made lightly, as the demands are great, more children, where available, should be offered the opportunity of home schooling. There is no doubt that if given all the information and the available resources many more parents would at the least think of home schooling as a much more viable option than they previously did. The community must once again embrace children into it as they begin to learn and grow in ways that they and their parent's determine.
Children are thriving in the home school situation and as more and more people begin to look for alternatives to the strict and often unforgiving social and psychological as well as intellectual offerings of public schools this movement will continue to grow in popularity and numbers.
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