Distance Learning for Smarties
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Maybe your toddler is reading Yeats. Perhaps your second grader just beat her grandfather in their third straight game of chess (and he didn't let her win, either). It could be that the same little tyke you scold on a daily basis for never remembering to put down the toilet seat also happens to paint vibrant, picture-perfect landscapes that take your breath away. For whatever reason, you have a sneaking suspicion your child is gifted... and you're looking for something to put a little oomph in his educational experience.
Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth (CTY) has been serving gifted children from 2nd to 10th grade since 1979. The program offers students summer enrichment curricula, online classes, and conferences for gifted children and their families. CTY also publishes Imagine, a magazine geared toward middle and high school students interested in enriching their academic experience and pursuing intellectual excellence. Admission requirements (including information on CTY's annual Talent Search) and financial aid information can be found at the program's website: http://cty.jhu.edu.
Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) focuses solely on computer-based distance learning. EPGY aims to provide high-achieving students challenging, advanced courses without requiring them to leave their normal district schools. This specific type of learning model also allows a student to progress at his or her own pace. Admission is based on intellectual ability, with applicants generally submitting the results of a standardized test (e.g. the SAT) for consideration. Tuition fees vary by course, and financial aid is available. For more information on EPGY visit: http://epgy.stanford.edu.
If your budding Galileo isn't quite ready for a university program, www.mysummercamps.com is a fantastic resource for hot-weather experiences for gifted children. This site boasts more than 15,000 programs to choose from, located all over the United States and Canada. The National Association for Gifted Children (www.nagc.org) is another excellent place to look for supplemental and extracurricular programs for high-achieving children.
For many parents, money is most definitely an object. If the types of programs listed above don't fall within the family budget, consider connecting with other parents of gifted children in your area to learn more about what you can do to enrich the educational experience of your child. To find a parent group (or to start one of your own), try contacting your state's association for gifted education – a comprehensive list is provided here: http://giftedkids.about.com/od/wheretofindhelp/a/state.htm.
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