Everyone thinks having a gifted child sounds so great. They take care of their own learning! Really know what they’re doing! Don’t have any issues figuring things out, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining things to them!
What they don’t understand are the difficulties. The battles over completing assignments—even simple assignments. Actually, especially simple assignments, because those are the ones that bore them the most. The trouble keeping up with them on your best days, because if they do the work, you have to plan it, teach it, and grade it. The days when you really, really want to just throw up your hands in frustration and say, “You know what? Just don’t do anything, then!”
They don’t understand the attitude, or the chip on your child’s shoulder, or the feeling that you’re drowning. They don’t understand those rare moments when your child doesn’t grasp something on the first try, but you have to spend twice as long explaining to them why you need to explain it as you do actually going over the concept. They don’t understand the near-constant worry that you’re not stimulating them enough, that you might be pushing them too hard, that something just isn’t right about this path that you’re on.
There are days when you aren’t sure you want to homeschool anymore. Days when you wonder if your child is actually learning anything, or just skimming across the top of your selected curriculum and pretending that they’re doing something in order to make you happy. Days when you wonder if you’re ever going to get this right, or if they’re going to spend all of their early school years learning exactly nothing.
So how much do they really need to accomplish, anyway?
Gifted children should have the freedom to learn. They should be presented with books, and magazines, and articles. Every once in a while, give them a research topic, turn them loose on the internet (with Safe Search turned firmly on and your attention on their screen periodically), and see what they can come up with. It might amaze both of you!
Gifted children should be able to accurately and proficiently complete grade level work. They should never fall behind, because there is little reason for them to—unless they are focusing on one subject and ignoring the others for the moment, in which case, they should never fall so far behind that they can not catch up within a few weeks, and they should be expected to catch up by the end of the school year.
Gifted children should be given opportunities to expand their learning. They shouldn’t be held too strictly to the textbooks and materials that come with their curriculum; instead, they should be allowed to explore beyond it when their interest is caught. In this way, they will likely learn much more.
As long as they are learning, you are being successful. It is only when the learning stops that you need to worry—and even then, be sure to evaluate why it appears to have stopped. See how long it takes for progress to resume. And remember: gifted children often learn best with very broad guidelines. If nothing else, that should give you the ability to breathe a little bit more freely.