Gifted Children and Non-Traditional Educational Choices

It’s not easy growing up gifted, especially when so few get that your not-quite-the-norm behaviors are inherent with your giftedness and are really not a problem or an issue to be diagnosed and then fixed. No place else does this misunderstanding seem more apparent than in the traditional school setting—a place where gifted children can easily lose their curiosity, motivation to dig deeper, and their love for learning.

Have you ever had to deal with your or your child’s giftedness and its disconnect in the traditional classroom? Have you had to work with your child’s school, sometimes in vain, to get them to adjust to your child’s educational needs as a gifted learner? If you have come to the conclusion that the typical classroom model for learning may never meet your child’s educational needs and you are seeking an alternative educational setting where your child can be excited about his education again, where he can learn at his own pace, and feel free to search for the information he seeks—an educational setting where your gifted child is happy, engaged and fulfilling his natural desire to learn.

Is there such an educational setting, an unconventional education for your gifted child? Actually, there are quite a few, and they each have various ways to design the best educational roadmap for your child.



Homeschooling is sometimes the default educational approach families of gifted children take when they feel a traditional school setting is not a good fit for their gifted child. Yet, homeschooling has many options and choices available to tailor it for your gifted child and best meet his needs.

Unschooling, homeschooling co-ops, online classes, classical homeschooling, and dual-enrollment in traditional schools are all such options which can further meet the needs of your gifted child. Homeschooling does not at all relegate you and your child to the kitchen table to plow through textbooks and workbooks!

Look into homeschooling co-ops in your area. Join up with other homeschooling families to share in the learning. Your area may even have homeschooling centers where your gifted child can choose classes he wants to take. Some school systems, public and private, allow homeschoolers to take classes or be part of extra-curricular activities offered at the school. And don’t forget to look into online classes—group or individual—if you decide to homeschool your gifted child.

A great place to find the resources you need for homeschooling your gifted child is Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, and my book, Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling provides information, strategies, and tips from a former public school teacher on the do’s and don’ts of homeschooling. Just remember, homeschooling is an excellent educational setting, and sometimes a superior option to traditional schools.

So, what other educational options are there besides traditional schools and homeschooling?

I’m glad you asked!



In the world of educational alternatives for gifted children, micro-schools is an innovative and exceptional educational setting. And I’ll be quite honest here—I wish I had known about  micro-schooling when I chose to homeschool my own gifted children.

Not sure what a micro-school is? Think somewhere between public schools, private schools and homeschooling, or think of all three, or maybe none of these. It just depends on the approach any particular micro-school chooses to take.

I learned about micro-schooling through my colleague, Jade Rivera, who founded her own successful micro-school for gifted learners. Jade has written a comprehensive book on the what’s, why’s, when’s, where’s and how’s of micro-schooling. Her incredible book, Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget by GHF Press is a detailed blueprint how to start your own micro-school.

Jade shares her knowledge and hard-earned experience with the organization, day-to-day operations and legalities of running your own micro-school. In Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget , you will also learn all you need to know about this progressive, alternative approach to educating gifted children, and how to be a facilitator in a child’s education, not simply a director. Jade gives readers the information needed for setting up a micro-school which provides a place where education is tailored to fit a gifted child’s needs. She imparts her philosophies, her experiences and her expertise with providing an education which fully engages gifted children in the learning process and helps them to become active participants in their education. Micro-schooling is an exceptional educational approach and Jade’s book is an exceptional book.


We are all very much familiar with the organization of traditional schools and how classrooms are set up to disseminate information to a large group efficiently and effectively. Yet we also know the typical classroom doesn’t always work efficiently nor effectively for many children such as gifted children. When the traditional system doesn’t fit a child’s learning needs, then an alternative educational approach is in order. Homeschooling and Micro-schooling are effective, efficient and yes, exceptional.


Think outside of a book and learn outside of the box.




Where to buy Jade’s book: Amazon

Where to buy Celi’s book: Amazon

Learn more about homeschooling gifted children: Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Read more about an unconventional education: An Unconventional Education—There are many ways to get there from here.

Read more about educational choices: Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child by Corin Barsily Goodwin and Mika Gustavson, MFT

A great place for online classes for gifted students: Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse



21 Comments on “Gifted Children and Non-Traditional Educational Choices

  1. Let’s call a spade a spade, and say Prussian school instead of conventional school. After all, modern military-industrial factory schools are Prussian in origin. As for a “traditional” school, I would love to have been home tutored Renaissance or Classical style.

    • Great point! My use of the term traditional school is just to make clear the difference between most brick-and-mortar schools and homeschooling. In professional educational media, industrial is often used to further describe our current school systems.

  2. Okay, done some research. Montessori seems nice enough for most people but I think I remember a quote from a gifted student saying “Why won’t they teach me anything? They keep making me play!” And you can just hear the tone of voice that would be said in.

    Turns out I am familiar with microschools but I knew them as minischools and flexischools. Have you heard of Roland Meighan? He was like the clearinghouse for weird education in Britain *pours out a little liquor for fallen comrades*. I think Jerry Mintz plays a similar role in the US.

    I’m ready to give up on ‘conventional’ education for gifted children. I read Finnish Lessons which describes about the best that regular schools can be and it doesn’t mention gifted once. I found a report online that says Finnish education is very poor for gifted children (Jante Law etc) and because independent schools and homeschooling are pretty much banned, there is no escape. That was what it was like when I grew up too – gifted education doesn’t exist in Britain and there were no practical alternatives (although I suppose if there is no gifted program you avoid the stress of trying to get into it).

    • And it should not be stressful, nor should one have to “try” to get into a gifted program, if there is one. The vast majority of schools get gifted education wrong which leads to the misunderstanding of gifted children. I get so frustrated with this!

      Common sense should tell anyone that all 6-year olds will fall into different levels of cognitive development–some below-average, some average, and some above-average. Schools help those who are below average, but mostly ignore those who are very much above-average.

      If every child was taught at the level where he is, and his educational needs were met, we wouldn’t see so many gifted kids falling through the cracks, turning into underachievers, or dropping out of school.

      Thanks again!

      • The authorities will always hate the gifted. They don’t even want two of them in the same room together. They remember what happened when Lenin met Trotsky.

        • Lenin is a good object lesson in what can happen when a young gifted child is not given what he needs. His nouveau-riche father, Ilya Ulyanov, was more interested in his career, money, and social status than the needs of his children. That led to a life of embitterment for young Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov (later Lenin). His revolutionary older brother dying in a failed bomb plot did not endear 16-year-old Vlad any more to Tsarism. Thus, he later overthrew the old White Tsar only to become the new Red Tsar.


  3. Do gifted children do well in democratic schools like Summerhill and Sudbury Valley? There is a post on 29 Letters suggesting they would, but I couldn’t find anything else on the subject.

      • I was surprised nobody is writing about this. I first found out gifted education and democratic education existed when I was about 14 (when I realised what had been denied me I learned a new kind of rage). I hoped democratic schools would allow all children to become everything they could be and thus make separate gifted schools unnecessary. But now I’m wondering if being outnumbered by neurotypicals with a lot more official power and fewer sympathetic teachers to hide behind would be a good thing.

        A democratic school for the gifted would be amazing, but I keep thinking with the way gifted children demand knowledge, some kind of ‘human optimisation institute’ where teachers drive them to do more than even they think is possible would be superior. A multiplex or school-within-school could do both and give them the choice. Yeah, let’s go with that.

        • Have you thought about starting your own school? One of my colleagues, Jade Rivera, started her micro school and wrote a book about it.

          The closest educational philosophy we have now to an appropriate education for all is the true Montessori approach with multi-age classrooms and the children all work at their own pace and interest level. Teachers are required to have individualized lesson plans for EACH student. Unfortunately, nearly all Montessori schools are private and usually only for the lower grade levels.

          • I won’t be starting my own school but I do need to look into Montessori and microschools some more. When I said gifted children demand knowledge I should have also said they oscillate between this and a level of lethargy that can best be described as kausidya, a Buddhist Sanskrit word for somebody who is too lazy even to meditate.

          • That lethargy is often thought to be brought on by school being too easy for gifted students.

            Thanks again and I look forward to more of your insightful and witty comments!

    • I wouldn’t recommend a democratic school unless it was specifically designed for Gifted students, and populated by Gifted students only.

      Democracy can also mean mob rule and tyranny of the majority.

      There is a reason I like the old “aristocratic” America. It was the land of Ford, Edison, Tesla, and Einstein. Yes, it had its faults. But too much democracy can also be bad.

  4. I think this educational alternative is something that the vast majority of children could benefit from, if it could be an idea incorporated into schools. Instead of the child being pushed into rigid conformity inside the school. The school would be flexible around the child.

    It would no doubt lead to reduced stress and much More creativity In regards to subject choices and freedom to learn to their own specification… And obviously standardized tests would be marked by professionals without mark schemes! Or preferably, abolished altogether in a sort of “henry the eighth, tudor” fashion!

    although, the higher and lower ability students may still not benefit from such a place and these ideas you propose sound wonderful as an alternative!

    Have a great christmas holiday although. I have NO SCHOOL! And thanks for the early christmas present (though i know what all mine are anyway – i am crafty with scissors and tape and a pinch of fabricated truth!) Teenagers nowadays! BEWARE.

    • Hi Richard!

      Yes, EVERY child could benefit from an education tailored to meet their learning needs! Freedom to choose subjects, moving at your own pace and totally engaging in their education can only benefit all students. And I’m all for doing away with standardized tests!!!

      Merry Christmas to you, Richard! Thanks for leaving your thoughts here!

  5. Celi. You and Jade are such great resources for parents looking for schooling alternatives. I am referring clients to your blog and book! (Jade’s, too) Thank you for all that you do for gifted chidden and their families.

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