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Too Smart for School?

We pretty much decided before we even had kids that homeschooling was the way to go, but now that Jason and Scott are in our lives, we’re more convinced than ever. The boys are both frighteningly intelligent, and public education is ill-equipped to deal with gifted kids. In fact, as this TIME magazine article details, it’s probably about the worst thing that could happen to them.

Jason at 5 is reading on a third grade level and mastering second grade math, with a relatively recent interest in geography. As his pre-school wraps up this month, we’ve been reminded to sign up now for school, but honestly I can’t see sticking him in an environment geared towards keeping every student in lockstep, regardless of their abilities. That’s fine for those in the middle, and challenging for those who have trouble keeping up, but it’s got to be torture for any kid who’s ready to move ahead, and isn’t allowed to.

I don’t really blame the teachers, some of whom are actually good at what they do. But it’s only logical that in a class of say, 20 kids with one teacher, you can’t implement multiple curricula to cater to all your outliers; it’s just more practical to keep everyone on the same page. But it’s equally obvious this kind of approach isn’t ideal for helping kids live up to their potential. Here in Virginia there isn’t really anything geared toward gifted kids until 3rd grade, by which time they’ve probably had most of their gifts beaten out of them.

Since everyone’s chief objection is “but what about socialization?” I’m heartened to read in the TIME article that gifted kids often do very well when placed with older kids, and not so hot when stuck in with their “peers” (age-wise) if said peers aren’t on their academic level. That almost seems counter-intuitive, and certainly goes against the grain of educators who are more interested in kids assimilating than learning. But considering their efforts at forcing socialization on kids has given us screaming success stories like the Columbine massacre, I won’t put much stock in what professional educators think. (All the emphasis on political correctness and sensitivity to “diversity” has also produced bullies who try to kill their classmates with food allergies, which is another excellent reason to keep our boys as far from public school as possible).

Still, all the logic in the world can’t keep me from second-guessing our game plan, as like any parent I just want what’s best for my kids. Later this summer we’ll attend a conference for home educators to pick out some curriculum materials and get some more advice on what we’re jumping into. Wish us luck.

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