Book Review: Educating Your Gifted Child

I never thought I’d consider homeschooling until I began to experience firsthand the inadequacies of schools in dealing with gifted children. The past year the thought that homeschooling may be a viable option has been looming ever larger in my mind.

Reading Celi Trépanier’s new book, Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling, was almost enough to convince me to give it a go. Almost. Perhaps I should say – not yet – because I can see a possible future for my child that may include homeschooling.

Educating Your Gifted Child

Educating Your Gifted Child by Celi Trépanier

Celi’s book is refreshing but not in the traditional way of learning about something brand new, but in the way that you’ve finally found someone who so thoroughly ‘gets’ what you’ve been going through. Someone who’s been there, done that. Because she has. She has felt my pain and probably yours.

Too often when parents talk about their gifted children they get labeled as ‘that parent’ who thinks they know better than all the professional educators. And if ‘that parent’ chooses to homeschool because the traditional schools can’t challenge their kids – let the eye-rolling begin.

That label certainly doesn’t apply to Celi as her background IS education. She has a B.S. from Loyola University and a M.Ed. from the University of Louisiana. She has taught in Louisiana, Ontario, and Alabama, in public schools, private schools, and homeschool co-ops.

She’s not just some mom who thought she could do better than traditional schools. She had an insider’s perspective and was a believer in the system and eventually came to realize the system was failing her child.

In her book, Celi details her journey from trusting the traditional school setting, to advocating (unsuccessfully) for appropriate accommodations, to finally taking personal control over her child’s education on a fundamental level.

Don’t worry, she makes clear that having an educational background is NOT a pre-requisite for homeschooling.

This isn’t a how-to-homeschool book. This is a why-you-should-consider-homeschool book.

Celi reminds us that we must question, that we have a right and an obligation to question, if our children are being permitted and encouraged to learn every school day. She reminds us that it’s okay to seek and create the learning environment that is best for our own child.

No single school can meet the educational needs of every gifted child within it’s walls, so choosing the best school for your child is a personal undertaking, as the one-size-fits-all approach does not work for gifted students. ~ Celi Trépanier

Raising a gifted child is a lonely road. Family and friends don’t understand the challenges you face and the pressure you feel. So you look to the educators and trust that they understand but too often they simply don’t.

I’d venture to say that most parents of gifted children have had fantasies of liberating their child from the drudgery of the traditional classroom. I know I’ve had them. Celi lets us know that those daydreams can become a reality and the reality of homeschooling sounds pretty darn good.

You can learn more about Celi and her advocacy for gifted education by reading her book, which I highly recommend, and on her fabulous blog Crushing Tall Poppies. She’s also on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I know she’d like to here from you.

Are you a homeschooler? How did you come to the decision that it was right for your family?

3 Responses

  1. Thank you for reviewing my book, and I am so happy that you loved it!

  2. I just discovered your blog and so much of what I’ve read resonates with me. I choose to homeschool my son for kindergarten, he turned five in September so he would have been four starting the year and it just did not feel right. Here was a four year old doing multiplication and division and conversions, whose pillow talk at night involved math, who also still was in diapers at night, taking naps, sucking his fingers and having major tantrums. Sending him to kindergarten all day just felt wrong in my gut – I’m a stay at home mom and I really felt that in the social/emotional aspect he would do well with another year with me. Academically kindergarten would not have challenged him. He craved academic type learning – asked to learn about things like the number “i” and “e” and “pi”, asked scientific questions, wanted to read books, wanted to do worksheets. So I wanted to see him get the challenge his intellect craved. And at the same time I didn’t want him to spend eight hours at school every day. I wanted him spending more time playing and socializing and growing in other ways and getting the intellectual challenge in a short amount of time better suited for a young child. I thought it was a great experience and totally right for us. That is not to say it was always easy though! This year, he just turned six in September and started first grade at the elementary school. So far it seems that academically, he is doing things he already mastered two years ago. But, the independence and sense of community he is gaining are great and he is enjoying himself. He still loves math in his class anyway, because he thinks it is fun on any level. However, now I have the fun task of advocating for him to be challenged academically, but so far it has gone nowhere and that is hard for me to swallow – especially because he seems to have a lovely teacher whom I like – yet that does not equate to getting him the right level of academic challenge if he is too far ahead for grade-level enrichment to make a difference. I am really grateful to have a year of homeschooling in my pocket because I feel like I am not totally trapped if my efforts at advocacy in public school go nowhere and it ever doesn’t feel right again. However, it is hard to replicate the community and activities that you automatically get at school. There are great things to homeschooling, but it is obviously a lot of work on the side of the parents it is to be done right. A lot of driving to different activities and constantly orchestrating your child’s life. It was a relief to just let go of that when he went to school this year. And at the same time, I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I feel it necessary. It was pretty low pressure to do it for kindergarten – he made impressive gains with probably only 30 minutes a day formally (yet so much more gained with all the informal playing and such that is ever more important at that age!) – yet it got my toes wet so I will be a million times more comfortable with homeschooling in the future if it feels necessary.

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