I can’t believe we’re still talking about academic acceleration and gifted children.
Quite frankly, it makes me sad… and angry… and then sad once more.
It breaks my heart to think of all those kids who spend countless hours in classrooms all over our country waiting to learn.
Year after year, these children sit and wait to learn something. They remain bored, unchallenged, underserved.
Meanwhile, the concerned parents of these children are told by The Powers That Be that acceleration is not only not an option, but that it would be detrimental.
These young minds who entered kindergarten bursting with ideas and questions lose their love of learning.
We are holding back our country’s brightest students. These are the children who will grow up to invent, to create, to solve problems, and help the world. We need them now, more than ever before, and yet we tell them to wait.
Academic Acceleration and Gifted Children
The infuriating part of this is that we have research – years of research– that indicates academic acceleration is a highly-effective educational intervention that costs next to nothing.
In a previous post, I shared our family’s maddening experience advocating for academic acceleration in the public school system. At that time, I urged readers to read A Nation Deceived and to share it with their school systems. Since that post, the research from A Nation Deceived has been updated and is currently available in A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students. The goal of A Nation Empowered is to “inform educators, parents, and policy-makers of current research on acceleration, how that information has been applied to educational policy throughout the nation, and how educators can use the findings to make decisions for their brightest students.”
A Nation Empowered lists twenty forms of acceleration for gifted youth, including early entry, subject acceleration, grade acceleration, mentoring, distance learning, telescoping, self-paced instruction, extra-curricular courses, and more.
The National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) also has a position statement on acceleration :
Educational acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match high-level student general ability and specific talent with optimal learning opportunities.
Despite this research, our nation’s gifted children continue to be underserved. School officials tell parents that acceleration has negative outcomes. They ignore testing results and recommendations. They cite the child’s behavior, his or her overexcitabilities, as an area of concern moving forward. They talk about social difficulties and the gifted child’s asynchronicity.
Some of us, enraged by the system, opt out altogether.
I never imagined myself homeschooling. My husband and I are both products of public schools and, before having children, I worked as a school psychologist in an urban setting. I was passionate about urban education and had plans to return to my career once my children were school-aged.
But I also never imagined a child could be so misunderstood in kindergarten.
Academic Acceleration and Gifted Children
It seems that many confuse acceleration with pushing. Acceleration is not pushing a child to achieve, but rather it is allowing a child to soar. It is giving the child permission to move forward, to dive deep, to learn.
When I realized that the school was refusing to give my child permission to learn, we walked away.
And, do you know what? Once we removed the public school from the equation, he blossomed. His smile returned. He was our curious and joyful learner once more.
One size does not fit all.
Academic Acceleration and Homeschooling
Our family doesn’t talk much about acceleration these days. There’s no need. Acceleration is a non-issue for our family right now.
I don’t use homeschool curriculum in the traditional sense. I don’t open chapter one and work through the resource until we have reached the end of the book. Instead, we pick and choose based on interest. We skip through entire chapters. We dabble in this and then lose ourselves in that. There’s a lot of diving down rabbit holes and hands-on learning happening over here and much of it is unplanned.
Homeschooling allows us the freedom and flexibility to meet our children where they are at, regardless of grade level. Sometimes, my kids move quickly through the curriculum. At other times, they slow down and move deeply through the content.
My children are happy, and they love learning.
(Now, how amazing would it be if we could take this student-focused education model and apply it to the public education system so that all children can learn?)
Resources for parents
I realize that homeschooling is not an option, or even a desire, for many families. If you are struggling to have your gifted child’s needs met in school, I encourage you to check out the following resources:
- Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children: A Parent’s Complete Guide by Barbara Jackson Gilman
- Acceleration Institute
- Davidson Institute
- Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds by Jan and Bob Davidson
- Gifted Homeschoolers Forum
- Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page
- National Association of Gifted Children
- Raising Poppies
Are you the parent of an asynchronous, twice-exceptional child too?
You are not alone. Here are some related posts:
Do you have an acceleration story? Share here.
This post has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page October 2016 Blog Hop Acceleration: Education at the Speed of Us. Please click the image below to read more articles on this topic.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram