Options — Change to an Individual Plan

Individualized plans all fall under the homeschool umbrella, where your child is no longer registered in an accredited K-12 school. Most of the choices require significantly increased parental involvement in the education. There is a lot of overlap between these choices, as many parents who use home schooling for their gifted child avail themselves of internet and college classes for part or even all of the curriculum. Note that the early college listed here is not a program for a group of young teens with support and counseling, this is instead sending your child to college classes alone.

Individual plans obviously allow for complete customization of your child's education, which can also be a daunting challenge. The positive aspects of this choice for parents is that there is no worry about applications or timetables or waitlists, the pace of education is guaranteed to match your child, and a 2004 study of 66 highly-gifted children stated "overwhelmingly positive" comments about this choice, which can be ideal for many gifted children. The special challenge for parents who choose this option for their child is to make sure the child's emotional and social needs are met as well as their intellectual ones. Parents can join homeschool groups or homeschool co-operatives, as well as finding online support groups. Children can also pursue socialization through local special-interest groups/clubs of non-academic interests and can also find support groups online. The Davidson Young Scholars Program is a great resource for many parents of gifted children.

Change to an individual plan that has accelerated education, but no physical peer group
• Home school, including tutoring
• Internet/Online school
• Early College non-program

Home School. About 2 million children in America are homeschooled, 17% of the parents citing dissatisfaction with academic instruction and 7% wanting a non-traditional approach to education. Note that this does not have to be a full-time option; there can be partnerships with private or public schools for part-time traditional study in conjunction with part-time home schooling. In fact, some states require the public schools to give homeschooled students access to district resources. Parents may find considerable help with advocacy organizations and homeschooling conventions. (see Wikipedia).
• Resource: Hoagies page on Home Schooling Gifted Children
• Resource: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum — to support gifted homeschoolers with resources, networking, advocacy. online community for support and advice, sponsorship of events with nationally known speakers, and a schedule of conferences, lectures and other opportunities.
• Resource: Homeschooling Highly Gifted Children by Kathi Kearney, 1992

Curriculum help. Besides partnerships with local public and private schools, parents can find a variety of curriculum help. Courses may be purchased (e.g., The Great Courses of The Teaching Company, Prufrock Press). Tutoring is also an option (friends, family, paid individuals, paid companies). Individual courses or full academic years are available online (below). Individual courses or full academic years are available at a local college (below).

Davidson Young Scholars Program provides free services: consulting, online community, annual get-togethers, Ambassador Program, Summer STARS, and more.

Internet/Online schools. This option can be added as a part-time enrichment for traditional school students, part-time curriculum for homeschooled students, or be the complete academic choice. For parents of gifted students the wealth of online courses is a boon, and many are free. While Stanford University has been the leader of online classes historically, there are many other alternatives, and the choices are growing exponentially daily. The Stanford University Online High School (grades 10-12) is a fully-accredited, diploma-granting, online, independent high school — LA Times article "A high school with more clicks than cliques."
• Resource: "Complete Guide to Online High Schools: Distance Learning Options for Teens & Adults," by Thomas Nixon: how to pick a school and what to look for. 2007 book. Available at Amazon.
• Resource: Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies (SPCS) — http://spcs.stanford.edu/ — Online High School, residential summer programs, EPGY, Open Enrollment Program
• Resource: Connections Academy K-12 virtual charter school; other online charter school available by state (e.g., Florida Virtual School FLVS)
• Resource: Halstron Academy customized one-on-one online school and tutoring.

Early College. The early college option here is not one of the two-dozen or so early college programs; this option is simply to enroll your child in a local college part-time or full-time. Usually there are no other children your child's age in any of the classes. The 2004 study mentioned above states that "twelve years old is the average age that children in this survey started taking college classes." While usually this option is part of a home-school option, it can also be the full-time option. There actually is no requirement of a high school degree for entering college. and generally no means for children under age 17 to obtain one (GED testing starts at age 17; few states have an alternative, and the test is not available online). Many states will issue a high school diploma upon successful completiton of the freshman year. The colleges will likely require testing using a college-entrance exam. When children score above the 75% level on these college-level tests, college courses should be considered; college readiness is exactly what these tests measure. So how are kids this young ready for college? There are several factors. Most college courses have no real prerequisites — obviously none for social sciences, but even introductory physical sciences do not require anything beyond what an intellectually curious child will have already picked up. What sets college apart is the speed and depth — college calculus may start at the same place as a high school course, but will cover 50-100% more material in a year. And the emphasis in college is on critical thinking — learning and debating ideas rather than facts.
• Resource: "Early Entrance to College: A Guide to Success" by Michelle C. Muratori, Ph.D. (Review by the Davidson Institute.) Available at Amazon.
• Resource: Hoagies Early College Planning page, with a link to College Summer Research Programs.
• Resource: Davidson Institute's "Considering the Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Early College Entrance" (Parent version and Student version)

Personal Stories:

From parents who chose these options will be added in as available.
More stories available:
• Forging Paths: Beyond Traditional Schooling — stories of 9 students who took non-traditional paths. Available on Amazon.
• Hoagie's Early College success stories
• Comments from a 2004 study — 66 parents who chose homeschool