Homeschooling gifted learners can be a challenge! Sometimes they’ll surprise you with how quickly they move through grade level lessons. Other times, gifted learners might simply refuse to complete assignments they have become bored with.
Navigating the homeschooling journey with a gifted learner means you need to think creatively and keep their lessons challenging to get their best work. Challenging your gifted kids isn’t always easy, but I’ve got some ideas to get you started. Keep reading to discover how I add elements of challenge to our homeschool days and test some of my favorite ideas for challenging gifted learners too.
Gifted Learners Need To Be Challenged
Intellectually gifted learners can become bored easily when curriculum or lesson plans aren’t challenging for them. Finding ways to challenge your gifted learners will bring out the best in them.
Gifted kids have curious brains that need to be challenged in new ways every day. Challenging your gifted child doesn’t just mean giving them more work, it means helping them to think about things in new ways. It means encouraging them to think critically and creatively about a variety of obstacles and topics.
Challenging gifted learners in this way enables them to use previous knowledge and skills to solve problems. Gifted learners thrive when they are pushed to think outside the box and find new and creative solutions.
How To Add An Element Of Challenge To Your Homeschool
So how can you go about adding these new challenges to homeschool lessons for gifted learners? As I plan challenges for my gifted learner, I try to keep 3 things in mind:
Planning activities and lessons to challenge your gifted learners ahead of time will make it a lot easier on yourself. Think about the concepts and topics you plan to teach and your child’s interests. Then, find ways to encourage curiosity, creativity, and a little extra challenge to the standard lesson.
For example, while studying chickens, take a trip to a local farm. Check out the chicken coop, feeders, nesting boxes, and watering stations. Your gifted learners will be able to ask lots of questions, sparking their curiosity along the way.
Then, think of a project. Perhaps you’ll want to design your own chicken coop, make a nesting box from recycled materials, or add science experiments with eggs to your lessons for the week. All of these activities will challenge your gifted learners to think outside the box and add extra fun to your homeschool lessons.
The goal is not to just create more work for gifted learners. You don’t want them to get bored practicing a concept they have mastered again and again. More multiplication problems won’t challenge a gifted child who loves math.
Instead, you’ll need to be intentional about how you challenge your gifted kids. Speak to their interests and passions to really encourage them to go the extra mile.
Be OK with Letting Go
If something isn’t working, it’s ok to let it go. You have my permission to scrap tasks and activities that just aren’t cutting it with your gifted learner.
Every child is unique and it may take some trial and error before you discover the best ways to challenge your kids. If you find that what you’ve been doing isn’t working, let it go and try something new.
My Best Ideas For Challenging Your Gifted Learner
Planning new ways to challenge your gifted learner can be a bit, well, “challenging” too. Check out some of my very best ideas to get you started. These ideas have worked well for us.
Games are a great way to take a break from book work while challenging gifted kids to think creatively and strategically too. Just remember, gifted kids might not match up with the suggested ages on the box.
For example, my gifted elementary age learner has come to love Prime Club math game. It’s recommended for teens, but it’s a family favorite at my house. Choose games that match your child’s interests and strengths and don’t worry about the “recommended age” too much.
Strewing is hands down one of my favorite ways to add extra challenges and fun to our homeschool days with a gifted learner. The whole purpose of strewing is to place carefully chosen items and materials in your child’s path for them to explore and learn from independently.
I love strewing because it’s a way that I can build in extra learning challenges, set the tone for our homeschool day, and give myself a bit of a break from providing instruction and assistance. With strewing, kids discover and explore all on their own. Check out my free strewing guide for practical tips on getting started.
Challenging Your Gifted Learner With Interest-led Deep Dives
Another one of my favorite ways to challenge gifted learners is to lean into their passions and interests. For example, if you’re studying Ancient Rome and you notice your kids are fascinated by a lesson about chariot races, take it a step further. Use their interests to really dive in deep and explore topics you’re learning about in your homeschool.
My daughter is fascinated by outer space, so we have created all kinds of interesting lessons and activities to really challenge her related to astronomy, the planets, and space travel. I don’t worry that a topic might be over her head, we dive in as far as her interests lead us and when her curiosity is satisfied, we stop.
Don’t Worry About Grade-level
Finally, I want to encourage you not to worry about grade level with your homeschooler. With all homeschoolers, but especially with gifted learners, you can let go of fears about staying on grade level. Let your kids soar ahead and dive in deep with topics they are interested in and areas where they excel.
If you need to pull it back, you can always slow down and spend more time on a challenging topic or difficult concept. Don’t let fears about adhering to a prescribed level stifle your gifted learner’s creativity or curiosity.
How have you approached homeschooling a gifted learner? What tips and methods have you discovered for challenging your gifted learners? Share your favorite ideas for challenging gifted kids in the comments.
Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. At The Waldock Way Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime. She inspires families to engage in homeschooling as a lifestyle where relationships come first and interest-led learning prevails. Jessica also has a fabulous collection of unit studies on her website and shares generously on her YouTube channel.