Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some Great Curriculum for Gifted Kids

As every homeschooling parent knows, no single curriculum fits every student. This fact is so much more true for gifted children. Just because a curriculum is marketed as being for gifted kids, that doesn't make it right for *your* gifted kid. In fact, at this point in my homeschooling journey, I have two very different, but according to testing, equally gifted children. They don't use a single piece of the same school material, unless it is something we are reviewing or something that the whole family uses as a group subject. For example, they are both doing Algebra: one is using Thinkwell and one is using YourTeacher.com. They just don't learn the same way or respond to the same methods! So the takeaway from this post is, just because it works for my gifted kids, for your friend's gifted kid, or for the curriculum creator's gifted kid does not mean that it will work for yours. Investigate lots of curriculum choices, try them out, and find the one that works best for your own child.

Having said all that, though, here are some things that I have found to be exceptional for gifted kids whose brains really do work differently from other kids'.

Rules of the Game
I don't know how prevalent this program is; I don't personally know anyone else who uses it, but our local Homeschool Store does carry it. That's how I found it. What makes this series of three workbooks different from other approaches to grammar is that it does grammar inductively. That is, whereas other workbooks will say, "This is a fragment ----. Identify which of the following are fragments," Rules of the Game will set forth several examples and then ask students to identify what each of them has in common. In the case of fragments, students observe that each example lacks either a subject or a verb. Students are then told that such word groupings are called fragments. The first approach teaches grammar deductively, the second inductively.

For whatever reason, the second approach works very, very well for my son. He likes to see for himself what is being taught before he is told what is being taught, if that makes sense. He also likes to "do it himself." That shouldn't be news to any parent of a gifted kid. This series of three workbooks is stated to be for kids 5-10 grade. My son started the series when he was 8 and will finish it this year when he is 10. Don't ask me what grade he is in; I have no idea! Kids can do this program completely independently.


TRISMS is something that I looked at for years before I actually bought it. It's not at all cheap, so I was very blessed to find it used at our Homeschool Store. TRISMS is kind of like Rules of the Game in that it is what I think of as a curriculum that works backward. Let me explain: at the end of a year with TRISMS, your student has written a history textbook rather than having read one. If that doesn't light up your gifted child, I don't know what will! (Caveat: it is my daughter who adores TRISMS - this would not appeal to my son at all.)

More than a unit study, but definitely resembling one, TRISMS incorporates almost all subjects into one. It is classical in orientation, but you don't have to be a devotee of classical education to embrace TRISMS. The unique features of TRISMS are summarized here, but suffice it to say that it basically turns school into one big independent study. Everything is integrated, everything is done by your student, and there is no way to begin to explain how much they learn. If your student lives to research (mine is the kid who copied the dictionary and the encyclopedia when she was five - brought back so many memories of when I was a kid!), you must spend some time on this website. I know it's expensive, but you can find this program used occasionally.

Science for High School
This is one of those programs that I never would have found without the Crew. How amazingly lucky am I? What I would have said in my review had I not been afraid of taking any attention away from this wonderful program is that *this* is the science version of TRISMS! I kid you not - it works in much the same way: backward! You don't read a text and answer questions. You are given questions which you then seek to answer from sources of your choosing. It is such a perfect complement to TRISMS that I was blown away. I won't go into how much I love it here, but please go read my review if you haven't. You can find it right here. Don't forget to come back to this post, though ;-)

These are just a few of the things that we have found that we love. Oh, don't get me wrong: there are tons of things we love in our homeschool, but these just seem really geared toward gifted kids. The one thing that they all have in common is that they go about things in a different way. They teach to kids differently. They also teach 100% to kids. For my son, that is really important. Now, he has other issues that I will talk about a little later in the week (the joy of the 2e, or twice exceptional, child), but it is for my daughter in some subjects, too. Ironically, it is my absolute joy in teaching my daughter that makes it essential that she be able to tackle some subjects by herself. I have four children and there is just not enough time in the day! If I could, I would teach her all day, every day. I just love working with her. With gifted kids, as with all kids, though, you have to make choices as to which subjects your presence really enhances. Come back tomorrow for my opinion on that.

Laus Deo,

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