The conformity of traditional high schools isn’t right for everyone, but it can be especially challenging for gifted children. Often more intelligent, able, and curious than their peers, gifted children can actually lose out, act out, and fall behind when they’re not sufficiently stimulated at school. If your child no longer seems excited by learning or lacks a creative outlet in school, it may be time to consider the benefits of a nontraditional high school. As you start to explore this alternative approach, look for a school with passionate instructors, innovative teaching methods, and sufficient course variety for your child’s young and blossoming brain.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a high school for your gifted student:
A Curriculum That Motivates the Gifted Student
A rich and rigorous curriculum is often the key to unlocking the motivation, drive, and interest of a gifted child. When evaluating possible high schools for your gifted child, look at course catalogs and the overall academic journey. Target programs with a broad range of courses—traditional subjects plus many other options. Look for an approach that allows your student to be fully immersed in the content of a course. And ask if there will be opportunities for your child to pursue their passion and delve deeply into topics they really care about.
A High School that Considers the Whole Self
Gifted students observe, think, and question the world around them. Traditional high schools often look for easy answers that fit into neat boxes. That’s why you’ll want to set your sights on a school that helps your student develop academically, socially, and emotionally. Students should be encouraged to ask the big questions and explore who they are, where they fit into the bigger picture, and who they want to become. Schools that consider character formation help students build a sound moral compass even as they respectfully question the world around them.
Flexibility that Encourages Exploration
While structure and consistency may work well for the gifted student, rigidity doesn’t. School programs should grow and evolve as your student does. Freshman year shouldn’t look like junior year, neither in its composition nor its content. And when opportunities arise for travel, enrichment, and cultural exposure, your student’s school should work with you, not against you. One avenue to consider is the online high school.
Online high schools have been around for a while but have grown in popularity in recent years. COVID-19 taught us that remote learning is an option and intentionally planned remote environments can help students thrive. You and your child may have already found the need to seek out different learning and creative outlets outside of school. Imagine if your child could attend a school that suited their needs without abandoning the enrichment programs you’ve discovered. Visit museums, travel, pursue elite sports and advanced hobbies—without missing school. These complementary experiences challenge your student to think differently about their life and future. And it can lead them to dig more deeply into the aspects of their life and world that are most interesting and important to them. Online schools afford this flexibility so that your child can get what they need out of the classroom while also getting more of what they need out of the greater world at large.
Does Their Current School Serve Your Gifted Student’s Needs?
It can be counterintuitive to think that a gifted child would do poorly in school, but that is often the case. What’s more, the signs may be contrary to what you might expect. Poor grades are an easy identifier that something’s wrong, but there will be other signs, as well. Those unfinished assignments could be a sign the material is too easy and boring. Likewise, acting out may mean that what’s happening in class just cannot hold the attention of someone as intellectually gifted as your child. Underachievement among gifted students is a sad and all too common phenomenon. And the transition from elementary to secondary education can exacerbate an already difficult situation. If you have a gifted child not living up to their potential, it’s time to move on.
Gravitas is an online college preparatory school and an extension of The Stony Brook School in New York. Built on more than 100 years of prep school excellence, Gravitas was created to bring the rigor and legacy of prep school into the ever-changing landscape of the 21st century. We offer gifted students a more flexible school experience that’s equal parts challenge, rigor, and autonomy. It’s a resource-rich environment that gives your child what they need out of school, along with the extra time to get what they also need outside of it. Contact us today to learn more about Gravitas and our promise to nurture intellect and character.