Would an independent-study high school be a good idea for my quite intellectually gifted daughter? -- Need to Make a Decision


First of all, is your daughter interested in participating in an independent-study program? Her opinion is important. Second, does she have the commitment and motivation to learn outside the environment of a daily class? This is what makes independent study successful. Just being gifted is not enough.

Independent study is definitely not for all students. It is most often used by gifted students who aren't challenged in the regular classroom, students with health issues, students who have fallen behind in their studies for some reason, and by those who are in danger of dropping out. Independent study can be used on a full-time basis or in conjunction with classes taken in a classroom setting. In addition, students may participate in it on a short-term or long-term basis.

You definitely need to understand that independent-study programs vary from school to school and district to district. Typically, high-school students meet with their teacher one-on-one (usually weekly) to turn in and discuss work, introduce new work and receive the next week's assignments. In some programs, students meet more frequently with teachers and in small groups, and in others even daily for one or more classes. There are also the options of virtual schools, alternative schools, in-school programs and charter schools for independent study. It is important that you and your daughter explore these options to find the program that is right for her. If she elects the virtual-school option, it must be one in which her course work will be accepted by the local high school as well as colleges that she might attend.