Introducing the Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy

Introducing the Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy
January 13, 2014
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Parents of gifted homeschoolers sometimes struggle to find appropriate ways to create academic challenge for their children. Gifted children can have trouble finding their intellectual peers, connecting with teachers who understand gifted education, and identifying courses and curricula that are a good match for their unique way of learning. Parents of gifted homeschoolers have partnered with Laurel Springs School for more than
20 years to provide their children with the challenges they need. The Gifted & Talented Academy offers an accredited academic program and online social community specific to gifted children.

“I learned how to think about my opinions and express myself, with the strong support of an involved student community.” This reflection, from a graduate of Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy, outlines the key components of a successful approach to gifted homeschooling: projects that accentuate critical thinking, a supportive cohort of fellow students, and the ability for students to stretch their potential. This alumnus is currently in his sophomore year at Stanford University, and says, “I owe a lot to the Academy. It provided a strong foundation for my studies in college.”

Gifted students need specialized support to help develop their intellect, encourage achievement, and nurture academic and personal goals. When you choose to homeschool your gifted child, you might need the help of a community that understands the unique opportunities and challenges of a gifted learner. The Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy encourages students to participate in a more elaborate, in-depth study of major topics, and engage in problem solving that integrates knowledge across systems of thought. In addition, the Laurel Springs teachers encourage students to demonstrate leadership qualities, high-level practical skills, and a capacity for creative thinking.

The Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy is unique in that it allows gifted students to take advantage of all the benefits of homeschooling, while being supported by a high-quality academic program. As a distance learning program, Laurel Springs is able to create an individualized learning plan that is built upon each student’s strengths and needs. This process allows teachers to collaborate with each student to develop a path focusing on his or her areas of interest and future goals.

Another recent alumnus, who is now studying at the University of California at Berkeley, said “The Academy allowed me to take advantage of many Honors and AP course offerings with strong and consistent teacher support. The symposia, online seminars, and forums for Academy students helped me to develop relationships with my peers. I completed in-depth projects in my areas of interest, and my teachers were always available to assist.”

The Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy is designed for students whose learning level corresponds to grades 6-12. Children are given appropriate grade placement by academic ability and achievement, not chronological age. They work independently and with their teachers, and also collaborate with like-minded peers through online discussions, seminars and classes. The Academy offers virtual classroom experiences and the advantage of working in small, intimate groups, so students can get to know each other and feel supported by their peers and teachers.

The Academy faculty is a cohort of teachers with specialized training and experience in gifted education. They are trained to create unique learning paths within their courses, enabling students to pursue greater depth and breadth in the content area, based on individual needs. Academy teachers specialize in the art of differentiated instruction for various types of gifted learners. One-to-one communication is the basis for an educational dialogue that encourages gifted homeschoolers to move beyond what they could achieve in either a traditional school setting or a typical homeschool environment.

Many times, gifted homeschoolers possess the passion for a particular topic, as well as the ability to tackle complex subject matter, but can lack the executive functioning skills needed to see a year-long project through to completion. The Academy Project encourages gifted students to stretch their capabilities of complex analysis, evaluation, in-depth exploration, and critical thinking beyond the confines of traditional teacher-directed coursework. The Academy Project is an opportunity for each student to conduct in-depth research in an area of particular interest. An Academy teacher (who has specialized training in gifted education) acts as the coach and mentor for gifted students, and helps them work through any issues they may have. Teachers meet with their students regularly to discuss their progress, brainstorm solutions for obstacles, and provide advice for how to stay on task.

Gifted homeschoolers define the structure of their Academy Projects with project timelines, calendars, and milestones. Because the students choose not only the topic for the Academy Project, but also the work schedule, they feel a deep sense of ownership of their own learning. In addition, this structure better prepares students for college by helping to develop a higher level of accountability and time management skills. Self-directed learning is at its best for gifted homeschoolers when they have the guidance of education professionals who are readily available to help support their goals. The Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy provides this unique program and guidance to your children.

The Academy’s series of symposia on advanced topics feature guest speakers who are professionals and experts from a variety of disciplines. The symposia speakers have included an astronaut, a film producer, an environmental activist, and an Antarctic explorer. Gifted homeschoolers can work independently and with their teachers, and also collaborate with like-minded peers through online discussions, seminars, and classes.

A dedicated Academy school counselor is assigned to each student. This school counselor helps students create a long-term academic plan that includes coursework to best fit individual needs and abilities. The Academy’s 12-month enrollment period offers increased flexibility. Additionally, students can opt to stagger courses according to their own schedule and preferences.

As you consider the best fit for your gifted homeschooler, evaluate all the benefits of the Laurel Springs Gifted & Talented Academy: a customized academic program with a built-in social community matched to your gifted child. Please contact the Academy admissions office to learn more: 877-925-1451.