Monday, August 28, 2006

More Options for Gifted Kids

Somebody must be listening about the lack of schooling options for many gifted kids... Now Stanford University has announced that it will create a full-time online high school as an extension of its EPGY program. You can read about the article here, in the San Jose Mercury News.

Online high schools have gotten a bit of a bad rep in recent years, as a number have sprung up to cater to athletes who need certain grades to play in college. Having the Stanford brand name attached to one will certainly do a lot to make this variety of school seem more legitimate.

There will be some in-person interaction; Stanford recommends that students visit campus in summer to take their lab courses and meet with professors.

Online learning is certainly not for everyone. Kids need to be very motivated (it's easier to get away with zoning out than in a traditional classroom!). Some people find it easier to drop out of courses when they don't have a personal connection to the teacher or the other classmates. I've taken a few online writing classes, and inevitably we lose about half of the students by the end.

On the other hand, many parents of highly gifted kids wind up homeschooling at some point. These parents often complain about the lack of advanced curricula (or secular curricula in general) available for highly gifted homeschooled kids. For these families, Stanford's high school can't start soon enough.


Tony Plank said...


Time to implement key word security on your website. These automated blog posters will drive you crazy.

I'm very encouraged by the Stanford program. I hope some other universities will follow suit. My youngster is not ready for this just yet, but will clearly be ready for college material long before he is ready for a college classroom.

What would be a real blessing is if the state schools could take up the cause so that some of us can eventually afford the offering.

Anonymous said...

According to my "severely profoundly gifted(3 stdv above the norm)" young adult, the class room interaction is part of the college course level experience. The back and forth that goes on in the setting, face to face with a human person in the flesh I think she is referring to. This is not possible on line. She never took to on line courses as much as she was bored with the courses in school.

Anonymous said...

What about the gifted learning disabled? The A++s in some areas and Dss in others. How can we help them I wonder?

mqdean said...

I agree with comment #2 ... I live near Stanford and have known about the EPGY programs for years ... and have known many kids who took advantage of the programs. I think you need to be careful with regard to the isolation of a child's learning by computer. Many gifted kids also have social issues so take caution. A smart kid who can not get along or communicate could find the world a difficult and depressing place. Also take care as to how their program integrates/translates into other curriculum. EPGY all started with the wonderous start of the Internet ... several years later is it really the right solution or a well known professors pet project?? I opted not to do it when my child was very young.

The Princess Mom said...

My HG son took all his courses online last year as a 9th grader. Doing so taught him all kinds of lessons about time management, the need for structure and to ask for help when you need it, in addition to the academic stuff. We went out of our way to make sure he saw his friends. He missed being able to hang out at lunch for academically he was much happier than he had been in the public schools.

EPGY is the premier online program for gifted kids. I have heard nothing but good things about it from the parents I know who have used it for their kids. My middle son will be taking English through EPGY this year. The English classes meet online one hour a week, so they do have real-time interaction with other students as well as the teacher.

We have considered applying to the EPGY OHS. Got so far as downloading the application--all 14 pages of it! The price tag is what eventually dissuaded us from applying, although we're keeping the application in case ds15 changes his mind.

Online classes aren't for everyone, but for the gifted child crying out for rigor, they're an excellent option.

Keren said...

I will be brief ...

My son gas been in a gifted program for 5 years. One year in Texas and the other 4 in PA.

He has been identified as having an IQ of 130 using the WISC IV and a 134 using the Stanford Binet.

We move to Illinois and he is no longer identified as gifted using a CoGat test.


How does that work?

Please advise


Anonymous said...

My boys have been doing EPGY for almost 3 years. They grade skipped into 3rd grade one Christmas, then were enrolled into EPGY. They did 3,4,5 and part of 6 grade that first year. The second they did 3/4 of 6th and 3/4 of 7th. The third year, this year, they finished 7th and will be close to completely 8th (Algebra).

My kids don't learn well from the computer. Being 9 years old (10 later this month), they don't learn as well from words. The schools are not set up to allow phone calls in the middle of their session for help, the tutors are not always going to be available when needed anyway, and they don't respond to emails for a day or two.

So if a kid has trouble, are they supposed to do two more days of work built on a lack of understanding on a foundational element two days ago? It feels like if you let your kids go and do nothing, it is crash bash forward, crash bash backwards.

EPGY does not guarantee the student is learning how to do it the way it is taught. My kids find a lot of creative ways around learning new concepts by applying old ones or doing it a different way, not always rightly either.

And if the kids do get stumped, the resources for them to look up stuff themselves is scant. In the 3-7 grades they had some help index, but it had significant gaps. And in the 8th grade, you have a math textbook, so that's not so bad.

So here is what I have found.

Some kids are bright and highly able to do advanced math. But they learn best in a structured "teacher-led" setting. EPGY can be used, but only if a parent who knows the math they are learning is there to help them like a home tutor. I am not talking about the profoundly gifted who are also completely self-motivated and also happen to work well in isolation from a computer. This is an opportunity for them to be sure. But EPGY is not just for the gifted per se, but for the gifted for whom this learning paradigm (alone, and just the computer) works for them.

Also, I think my kids are a little like me. Being good at math maybe means they get done earlier and the subject is less of a hassle, and so it is a bonus. UNLESS you put them into a higher math course.

EPGY says that 8th graders are expected to complete the course in 6 months at 1.5 to 2 hrs per day. What 9 year old gets that much math at the regular school? So we spend 13 hrs a week or more sometimes trying to keep that pace.

Recently I asked for and received permission to slow the math down to what is age appropriate. They may not finish a year in a year. In the earlier days, 25 minutes a day, 5 days a week was terrif. It has grown steadily.

And each course, each grade, it seems to have its quirks in the software so it is hard to come up with a model of helping them that stays. Always changing.

I have wondered what would happen if I just quit watching out over them. What would EPGY do for them. But at a two day delay for anything they don't understand, how can it be good.

And etc.

So at this point, if I had to do it over again, I would not have grade skipped them (they were bored in their grade because they learned a lot of math from me their dad already before they got into school).

Yes, they tested out and were 2 or 3 levels above 100 IQ. Yes, they took the WISC and Weschler and were off the charts in our district. Yes they tested at Johns Hopkins and one of them was nearly the top of the percentile when compared to gifted children even two grade levels above him.

But you know, math is a crazy thing to be gifted in when you are young. If it was football, you go outside and play all you want (and get good exercise!). If it was piano, or art, or something that fascinates kids, it would be PC to come home and do more of it. But math? Math is so un-PC. What does a kid do with it when he gets home. Unless he is an extremely rare breed who is not just gifted at math but crazed with it day and night, math can end up being a chore. It is really a means to an end for most kids. Reminds me of a mom making her kid practice the piano, wondering if she is doing right or not.

But if I had to do it over, I would not grade skip them (though they are tall, their motor skills put them at a disadvantage and for the rest of their life in sports, and in playground bullying). I would probably home tutor them myself because I already have to do that and I think it would be FASTER to do so. Not THINK, I KNOW. But I try to support the EPGY program for when they get into math I don't know that I can't help them with (above trig).

So, if I let them go and they flounder will they do less than a year in a year, be kicked out, or the school district no longer support it. Will they then be stuck in a math class with their grade peers, learning old stuff at a slower pace? Or will they be asked as preadolescents to go to highschool, no way!!! So then what?

I'm kind of stuck. Math takes up too much of our day.

I was looking for advice from other EPGY'ers as to how they have dealt with the "how much support and bracketing do you give kids". I'm curious about all this.

Has anyone experienced any of this before.

Call me Bill N.

Laura Vanderkam said...

Hi Bill N. - thanks for joining us here. I sympathize with your kids. I did an independent study in math in seventh grade, and it was pretty much a wash for me. I needed to learn the topic in a structured environment (other subjects I did ok on my own, but math has always been best as a "class"). The next year I wound up going to the high school for math, and that worked much better. I don't know if it's a possibility to just do subject matter acceleration, or if you've already tried that, but if EPGY isn't working for you, spend the spring researching other options and try something different next year. Math is too fun to have your kids learn to hate it!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for some feedback on the math thing. I agree with you: if they are good at math, why should they do it in a way that they end up hating it.

Thanks, Bill N.

Anonymous said...

My kid is in the epgy program in math and she loves it. I have to help her some times, but the text book is wonderful at explaining things when she needs the help. I would recommend the epgy program for gifted people, most definatly.

Anonymous said...

My 9th grade son applied to, and was not offered a position at, EPGY OHS. That's fine, but when queried about the justification -- for purposes of providing feedback for future improvement -- they were not willing to share any information about their decision-making process. Stating that it is "school policy" to not share information with applicants.

This is unfortunate -- young impressionable children deserve constructive criticism especially during their formative years, before applying to colleges.

I am disappointed in Stanford - I would think that such a prestigious program would appreciate the benefit of providing feedback to their applicants.