I wasn’t sure what to write for the blog-hop on ‘homeschooling gifted/2e kids into their teens’. I mean, C is almost 7, J is 2.5. They’re not exactly galloping towards teenager-hood at this time. But then I asked for some advice, and had a good think, and realised – I do have something to say. Because I have thought about some of the problems we’re sure to encounter.
You see, when I started homeschooling C, it felt like a huge forever – 13 years of schooling, no need to plan on how I was going to teach grade 12 when I was starting grade 1…and yet. It hasn’t quite panned out that way. Late at night I find myself lying awake thinking ‘What the heck am I going to do with this kid?’ It’s not like his advancement is across the board, it comes in fits and starts – doing late high school work one week, not caring the next and just wanting to play computer games and imagine car races around the house. He’s very definitely 6 going on 7 and J is definitely 2 with all the headstrong stubbornness an independent toddler can muster. But as I learn more about my kids – and kids like them, the more I realise I have some serious planning ahead of me. Because whether I like it or not, C, and probably J are not going to have a ‘normal’ transit through adolescence. And by the time they’re hitting the teenage years, I’ll be having to plan exactly how I’m going to facilitate learning when (by very conservative estimates), they’ll be well beyond K-12 curriculum.
So this post is going be about marshalling resources for atypical teenagers – where I should be aiming, and what are the possibilities?
The first obvious answer is MOOCs like Coursera, FutureLearn, Udacity, and the countless others; check them out at this MOOC aggregator site. We’re already using these to a lesser extent, but as the kids get older and their interests intensify, these become a nice free alternative to university-level work. Some universities (even good ones) are also starting to offer certification for a small fee. Of course, many of these also have an unenforced minimum age requirement.
Another option in Australia is Open Universities Australia (OUA)– which has a minimum age of 11, but has been used by some homeschoolers as a means of early entry to university – not all universities accept OUA, but a few of the big, prestigious universities have done so in the past (which is just as well, as they run them). They aren’t free, or cheap, but they are certified.
Out of the online realm, there is a real possibility of setting up a mentor-type relationship in C’s areas of interest – at present science and mathematics, but that might change. Most Australian universities have experience with early entry students – particularly in their Math departments – though it’s always at the discretion of the head of school or Dean as to whether a young teen can get early entry before 16 years. If the learning continues (and it is NOT slowing down at all…), it’s an option I’ll have to investigate sooner rather than later.
Of course there’s always full or part-time early entry into university – but that then brings up the headaches of supervision – can I take C to high-level maths and science lectures with J in tow? What about lab-work? How else do we handle it? How would the university? Even as a young teen, he’ll still be too young to be left without direct supervision on a large campus.
So far when C has gone to university public lectures or Engineering Australia talks, it’s been with DH, and that’s usually worked well. (And they were usually in the early evening). Though the louder and noisier they are, the more like a distracted 6 year old C becomes – he doesn’t cope well in noisy crowds.
Of course, they might both decide university isn’t for them – and then there are the TAFE options. There are minimum age requirements for TAFE, which vary by state, but in NSW are 15 years, and 16 years in most other states. And some TAFE’s are already offering courses tailored for homeschoolers in Australia.
Or they might decide to go straight into some kind of self-created business, as a number of homeschool students have done. And then we run into all the fun of trying to figure out how to set that up if the kids are under the minimum working age – which depends on the field. I don’t know – it’s not really on my radar at present. But I’m sure I’ll spend a few sleepless nights worrying about it nonetheless at some stage in the future.
Though the future is really unknowable and unpredictable, looking back at that list, all I can really say is that trying to navigate around minimum age requirements seems to be in my future…
This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop: Homeschooling (and Parenting) Gifted / 2E kids into their Teens and Beyond … Check out the other blogs in the hop!.
Update: The Victorian Government in Australia recently changed the rules making it a little bit more difficult for homeschooling gifted and 2e kids. They have changed the eligibility criteria for entrance to TAFE courses, and you can no longer enroll if you are under 15 and a full-time homeschooler. It is now recommended that a student enroll in a bricks-and-mortar school part-time as well for the duration of their courses.
There are also changes to the Family Tax Benefit so that, as it appears under the wording of the changes, a student aged 16-19 must be undertaking full-time study towards a VCE (Year 12 certificate) or equivalent to qualify. This will adversely effect low-income homeschooling families – particularly those with advanced students.
I have written to my MP and I urge anyone affected by the changes to do likewise.