High school is a life-changing time for more reasons than one. It is where a child grows into a young adult, true friendships are forged, passions are discovered, hearts are broken, and the course of your life is determined. There’s nothing else quite like it. However, everybody’s experience is different.
Gifted children have unique educational needs and require a school that can challenge and stimulate them academically. The high school experience is a crucial and defining period for gifted children as it’s the first proper step on their career pathway. As bright children’s parents, you must consider which high school they should attend because the right place will help them hone their skills and personality.
If you’re lucky to have a gifted child in your family, here are some things you should consider to ensure you choose the best high school:
Eight Factors to Consider Before Choosing a High School for a Gifted Child
- Support for Gifted Students
Gifted students have unique educational needs that require specialized support. Look for schools that have programs and resources specifically designed for talented students. These programs may include advanced placement courses, accelerated coursework, mentorship programs, and specialized counseling and support services. Additionally, look for schools with teachers and administrators who are trained and experienced in working with gifted students and who understand their unique needs and challenges.
Hence, being a parent of a gifted child, you must also ensure that the high school staff is qualified and competent. Ensure the people in administrative leadership roles, student services, and advising hold at least a master of arts in higher education or similar qualifications.
A high school with experienced and qualified professionals at all levels will ensure that your child gains proper guidance and support. And that they will have the experience to remember in the long run.
- Class Size and Teacher Experience
Class size and teacher experience are also essential factors when choosing a high school for your gifted child. Smaller class sizes allow for more individual attention and personalized instruction, which can be particularly beneficial for gifted students who may need more challenging and stimulating coursework. Additionally, look for schools with experienced and well-qualified teachers with a track record of working with gifted students.
The best way is to research the faculty online and find out their qualifications. Make sure the teachers should have a post-graduate degree in education or their specific field. Additionally, you should plan a visit to the high school to meet with the teachers. It will give you a fair idea of what your child will experience once enrolled.
- Culture and Environment
The culture and environment of a high school can also play a significant role in your child’s education and overall well-being. Look for schools that have a positive and supportive culture and that foster a sense of community and belonging. Additionally, consider factors such as the school’s location, safety, and diversity. It’s essential for your child to feel comfortable and safe in their school environment in order to thrive academically and socially.
Moreover, you must consider whether hard work and intelligence are rewarded or ridiculed. Further, if your child has had a negative experience at school before, meet with the student affairs head at the high school to discuss their policies on bullying and harassment.
- Tailored Curriculum
The most common problem that high-achieving students have at regular high schools is limited options for in-depth learning, and the standard curriculum fails to challenge them intellectually. Therefore, it only makes sense to determine whether the high school you’re considering has a tailored curriculum.
A tailored curriculum has two facets. First, it must include several study options to meet your child’s intellectual capacity. It may consist of Advanced Placement (AP), Honors, or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The second facet is flexible and elective learning. Students can choose from various courses and are offered formal and informal mentorship opportunities. Additionally, look for schools that offer specialized programs in areas that your child is particularly interested in, such as STEM, the arts, or foreign languages.
If the high school has a tailored curriculum encompassing the above facets, chances are your gifted child will be more than happy there.
- Placement Record
High school is a crucial time for college preparation, and choosing a school that can adequately prepare your gifted child for college-level studies is essential. Look for high schools that have a strong track record of sending students to top colleges and universities. Additionally, look for schools that offer college counseling services, standardized test preparation, and college-level coursework such as AP and IB courses.
- Extra-Curricular Activities
In addition to academics, extra-curricular activities can play a significant role in your child’s development and can provide a way for them to pursue their interests and passions outside of the classroom. Look for schools that offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports teams, and community service opportunities. These activities can help your child develop important skills such as teamwork, leadership, and time management.
- Technology and Resources
In today’s digital age, it’s essential for high schools to have up-to-date technology and resources to support student learning. Look for schools that offer state-of-the-art technology and resources, such as computer labs, digital textbooks, and online learning platforms. Additionally, consider whether the school has a proper library, research resources, and access to experts in various fields.
- High School that Considers the Whole Self
Students with exceptional abilities tend to scrutinize, ponder, and challenge their surroundings. Unfortunately, conventional high schools favor uncomplicated solutions that conform to rigid standards. Therefore, choosing a school that fosters your child’s academic, social, and emotional growth is crucial. A school that inspires students to inquire about significant matters and understand their identity, purpose, and role in society is ideal. Additionally, schools prioritizing character development enable students to cultivate strong ethical principles while respectfully exploring the world.
Choosing the right high school for your gifted child requires careful consideration and research. Look for schools that offer challenging academic programs, a wide range of extra-curricular activities, experienced and well-qualified teachers, specialized support for gifted students, strong college preparation programs, and a positive and supportive school culture and environment. By considering these factors, you can help ensure that your gifted child receives the education and support they need to thrive academically and personally.