With the closure of schools for the foreseeable future, many parents and caregivers find themselves struggling to balance the demands of working and maintaining a household with teaching their children. These demands may seem even more daunting for parents and caregivers who have high-ability students at home.
According to Carla Brigandi, an assistant professor of gifted education at the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services, most high-ability students who have take-home assignments from their schools will finish those quickly, with lots of time to spare for other activities.
Brigandi, who studies educational enrichment opportunities for high-ability students, suggests that meeting high-ability students’ academic needs while they’re out of the classroom is pretty simple.
“Whereas I embrace the idea of structure and normalcy, I also recognize that traditional school does not necessarily meet the social, emotional and intellectual learning needs of many children,” Brigandi said. “Instead of recreating a traditional school system at home, use this time to allow your children to focus on their strengths and find out what they’re good at, interested in and love to do.”
To meet the intellectual needs of high-ability students at home, Brigandi recommends that parents and caregivers provide children with a range of options to explore and allow children to choose their activities. These activities can be as basic as writing three new jokes or as complex as a research project on a child’s favorite animal.
Brigandi suggests that once a system for self-directed learning is in place, children will learn to work on their own, leaving parents and caregivers the time to focus on other responsibilities.
“Children are naturally curious and when we tap into that curiosity, we establish a foundation of autonomous learning that can span a lifetime,” Brigandi said. “Once you set up guidelines to allow your children to explore their interests, they’ll pursue their interests with little or no prompting from you.”
For teachers who want to make enrichment activities available to students at home during the pandemic, Brigandi recommends Renzulli Learning, which is currently providing free usage for teachers.