Online School for Gifted Students: Why It Works

There’s a difference between being “good at school” and being gifted. Kids who are “good at school” often thrive with structure and rules, are motivated by grades and scores, and do what’s expected of them, even if they don’t go above and beyond.

On the other hand, gifted and talented learners, or students who have advanced intellectual ability (often measured through IQ tests and other assessments), often struggle in traditional school. They resist structure, question rules, and are more motivated by curiosity than grades. They’ll go above and beyond when interested in the material, and slide by on their natural gifts when they’re not.

Although some private and public schools offer gifted programs, these programs aren’t the only—or necessarily the best—option. An increasing number of parents are exploring flexible online education options for their gifted children, from homeschooling to online schools, to better meet their learner’s unique needs.

“Cooper has struggled in traditional school environments as a gifted learner. Between boredom, a lack of autonomy, and the constant rigid transitions from topic to topic, he was MISERABLE in brick and mortar school. He is absolutely happy and thriving at Prisma, and I’ve seen so much personal and academic growth in him this year!” -Kym J., Parent of a gifted student

Benefits of Online Learning for Gifted Students

There are many forms of online education. Homeschooling has long been popular for gifted children because it allows learners to fly ahead in their best subjects, spend more time on their passions, and avoid the bullying and social challenges common for gifted kids in traditional schools.

The difference between homeschooling and online school is fuzzier than ever, as many families incorporate online learning into homeschooling in various ways: from self-paced online courses on Khan Academy or EdX, to part-time online classes on platforms like Outschool or Kubrio.

Other families choose enrollment in a full-time online school like Prisma for an all-in-one curriculum approach, access to consistent teachers and community, and desire for an accredited transcript and diploma.

Gifted learners have different education needs than their peers. Online schools offer gifted students the personalization, flexibility, and special opportunities decades of gifted education research has shown they need.

  1. Personalization: Gifted learners need a custom learning path to match their unique needs. Even in-person gifted programs are limited by having to teach 20+ kids at once. Online, each learner can move at their own pace, working way above grade level in some subjects and at grade level in others.
  2. Flexible schedule: Gifted learners need ample time and freedom to pursue passion projects, daydream, and go down rabbit holes. Many online programs offer more space in the day than the typical in-person school’s busywork-packed schedule.
  3. Avoid overstimulation: Gifted learners are hypersensitive in a variety of ways. At Prisma, many parents tell us their learner was overwhelmed by the chaos, distractions, and frequent conflicts of the traditional classroom.
  4. Access to peers and experts: Especially in small areas, many gifted learners feel lonely or hungry to connect with others who “get” them. Although not all online schools offer live peer interaction, some, like Prisma, offer gifted learners a network of like-minded peers, and access to experts in cool subjects from all over the world.

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