One of the primary reasons for homeschooling is to help your children reach their full potential. One word of caution on this matter is that you need them to reach their full potential, not vicariously living your failed dreams through them. In a public school setting this is not very likely to happen (unless of course you have seen video of fathers fighting with coaches and other fathers during hockey or football games). But I am a mom and write this blog mostly for other moms. Dads, please don’t take offense!
If you have come to the conclusion that you have a talented child, whether it is in music or math or mechanical engineering, homeschooling may be the ideal situation for them. You can devote as much personal time as you want motivating them and directing their talents to achieve greatness.
One of the most difficult tasks in homeschooling a talented or gifted child is being able to create an environment where they are challenged to reach the next level. You must learn to strike a balance between what you see they are capable of, what they want to do, and what they have to do in order to reach their maximum potential. The biggest obstacle you will face is realizing that they will likely be around you 24/7. And if familiarity breeds contempt, contempt will unravel all your efforts.
On the other side of the equation is smart children who remain unchallenged will get bored and begin to act out their frustrations. This is a problem parents face when sending their children to public schools with their “all children are equal in our eyes” approach. As far as I am concerned, let other parents’ children be equal. I want mine to shine above the rest! But criticizing the system while not being able to find a solution with your own children seems more than a bit hypocritical to me.
You should know some of the signs of unchallenged children acting out: they are slow or resistant to get out of bed in the morning, their social skills regress leading to isolating behavior, apathy, a loss of interest or desire to learn. There are others but these are the most obvious signs. Personally, apathy is the real concern because if a child stops caring about what he likes to do, then where do you go from there?
So how do you keep your children sharp and motivated? One of the best ways is to let them apply what they have learned. The Internet is a great resource for discovering web sites that have interactive media that will challenge and test your child’s mettle.
Another tip – keep pushing their interest level by making them aware of what they don’t know. A little humility is always good. But notice I did not say push them. That is a common mistake that leads to children who are perfectionists, yet never believe that their level of achievement will ever satisfy their parents. Pushing their interest level means it is likely you will have some homework of your own to do.