Homeschooling Gifted Students: Considerations for Research and Practice

Homeschooling Gifted Students: Considerations for Research and Practice

Stacy Kula (Azusa Pacific University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3041-1.ch007
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The homeschooling movement has grown consistently over the past 50 years and is now a viable option for gifted children as well, particularly when traditional schools fail to meet their unique needs. As the educational option offering the greatest flexibility, homeschooling can hold great promise to assist the optimal development of both gifted and twice exceptional children. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight major trends in homeschooling practice for families with gifted children, as well as to focus attention on the need for further research into the topic of homeschooling and giftedness. Ways in which homeschooling can provide a fit for gifted and twice exceptional children, resources utilized by parents in meeting their children's needs, and challenges parents face as they direct their children's education are considered. The importance of flexibility in approach and curriculum, as well as utilizing outside resources, is emphasized.
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It is important to note that research on the homeschooling community is sparse. The population is difficult so study, being both dispersed and, in many cases, suspicious of and resistant to oversight (Collom, 2005). Moreover, much of what exists can be deemed untrustworthy or unreliable due to methodological concerns as well as author bias. For example, much of the statistical research on homeschooling outcomes has been funded by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and conducted through the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI); these organizations have access to a broad range of homeschooling families nationwide, and have used that access to produce quantitative research on homeschoolers with large sample sizes. Their studies show consistently higher outcomes in terms of grades, standardized test scores, civic engagement, and participation in leadership into college and adulthood for all classes of children, including the gifted (Ray, 2004, 2011, 2015). However, these organizations solicit self-reported data of homeschooling parents with the stated purpose of promoting this educational option (Kunzman & Gaither, 2013; Lubienski, Puckett, & Brewer, 2013). The results of such research, therefore, must be viewed with caution, as they reflect author biases, rely on convenience over random sampling of the homeschooling population, employ recruitment practices that might discourage participation by parents whose children do not excel, and fail to match students with demographically similar populations for comparative purposes (Kunzman & Gaither, 2013; Lubienski et al., 2013). Some independent studies with higher validity confirm positive outcomes for homeschooled children, including a closure of achievement gaps between children from working-class and affluent families (e.g., Collom, 2005). However, more independent quantitative research needs to be conducted to corroborate and generalize studies on homeschooling outcomes.

If the empirical research on homeschooling is sparse, the paucity of research on gifted education within the homeschooling community is even greater. A review of the literature on homeschooling the gifted reveals a body of work that is largely anecdotal; empirical work on the subject is virtually nonexistent (Kunzman & Gaither, 2013; Winstanley, 2009). As such, this chapter will reflect the scholarly works available, and add information gathered from internet sources commonly used by the homeschooling community, to develop a picture of the practices that parents of gifted children utilize to encourage their development. Throughout the chapter, the necessity for robust empirical research into homeschooling for children identified as gifted will be repeated.

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