Starting home education can be quite daunting—doubly so if you are deciding to home educate special needs children, whether they are gifted, disabled, or both (called twice exceptional or 2e). Neurodiverse kids tend not to fit in neat school boxes, and can be a challenge to parent and to home educate.
Though giftedness can be hard to define, there are generally four broad categories:
· Children who are high achieving – this is generally defined as children who achieve in the top 10% of school assessments. Problems in school can occur when there is not enough challenge offered in the school curriculum.
· Children with high scores on IQ tests. They will have an IQ score in the top 2.1% of the population (that’s two standard deviation from the norm or average score). For the WISC, this would be a score of 130+. Children in this group often also have a number of behavioural differences (colloquially called OEs or overexcitabilities). These can manifest as an oversensitivity to their environment or to the people around them and the situations they encounter. They are not necessarily high achieving.
· Children who have both a high IQ and are high-achieving are the third group. This is probably the best studied group of gifted children. See book like Miraca Gross’s “Exceptionally Gifted Children” for more information. They often have problems in school due to a lack of extension and acceleration options.
· The fourth group are gifted children who also have a disability. This is called twice-exceptional, 2e or GLD (Gifted Learning Disabled). For children with a diagnosed disability affecting their communication or motor skills, they will often have some sub-scores on IQ tests in the top 2% and an average score (if it can be calculated) at least one standard deviation above average (for the WISC, this would be 115+). If they do not have the right supports, they will not necessarily be high-achieving, and they often encounter problems when they do not receive support for either their giftedness or their disability.
Each of these different groups have challenges that are not always able to be met in school and can benefit from home education. But because of the different challenges, and the wide variety of different issues, finding and crafting a curriculum for a gifted/2e child can be a challenge.
You are rarely going to find a bought curriculum to use straight-out-of-the-box. It’s also going to take time to figure out the rhythm that works for your family – and that’s OK!
The standard advice is to deschool for one month for every year your children have been in traditional school. Deschooling is like unschooling—no set activities. It’s also called natural learning. (And it can be hard work! Sometimes set activities are easier.) The idea is to give you and your children time to adjust to a new rhythm of not-being-in-school. It doesn’t mean you can’t do lessons or worksheets, but it does mean you try to focus on what your children want to do. This is a kind of decompression, and it can really help if school has been stressful or difficult—it gives a clear break that lets your children know that home education won’t be the same as school.
Take the time to find your rhythm, which will start to develop after a few weeks—whether you have nothing planned, strictly planned, or have a few things that need doing every day. I have included a few selected resources on unschooling, particularly on unschooling gifted children and they can be found in the Unschooling section.
It’s also worth considering whether you need to spend a lot of money on curriculum right away. There are so many options available online for free, including lots of free worksheets from many websites that you can print out, as well as study guides and teacher resources. By taking the time to explore the free options available, you can get a great feel for what type of lessons your children like, and what they dislike. This gives you a much better idea of what curriculum might be worth purchasing. I have included lists of free resources available online in the Curriculum section.
Now don’t worry if you really want to dive in and buy awesome stuff. I felt exactly the same when I started. Some of the stuff we bought worked really well. Some didn’t.
Along the way, I learned that gifted, particularly highly+ gifted kids will probably power through some curriculum at double, triple, quadruple or an even higher speed, while other subjects might be extremely slow, particularly if there is also a learning disability (2e). This is one of the beauties of home education—tailoring lessons to what your children are ready and able to learn. Finding ways to allow them to advance to their interest level while shaping the content to cope and support their disabilities is individual to each child, and that takes time to figure out. And that’s OK.
It is also really worth finding support groups to help you feel less alone. From detailed information on brain wiring, to brainstorming and commiserating with fellow parents, having a support group, either face-to-face or online, can be a life-saver. I’ve included links throughout this resource to many wonderful home educating and gifted organisations in Australia and beyond. These can be found in the Specific to Victoria, Australia-wide and General Resources sections.
If you are one of the many families who are suddenly home educating due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, you will be in a slightly different headspace to people who chose to home educate. But it’s not as different as it looks!
The first thing to remember is: DON’T PANIC.
Your school is probably in the process of figuring out what to do. And in the meantime, some of these resources can tide you over until everything settles down.
If you are a teacher: please feel free to use this booklet as well. Many of these resources already have teacher guides and portals for organising classes online.
Some families may be eligible to enrol in Distance Education Victoria due to health requirements for students or their families. See the Distance Education Victoria website for details:
The VRQA has also made statements online for families considering home education in Victoria due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Check their website for latest details:
The Home Education Network also has information on home education during the Covid-19 Pandemic:
Home Educating Parents have also set up a dedicated group for people to ask questions if they are suddenly home educating:
Home school due to Virus & School Closures In Australia
Also, please feel free to contact me at any time if you have further questions.
HEN Gifted / 2e Contact
Gifted Support Network Contact
See the PDF for lots more details