Looking for interesting programs to challenge your gifted child? Perhaps you have looked into tutoring centres, vacation camps or private tutoring, but have you considered online learning? With the rise of technological innovation in recent years, online learning programs have revolutionized education for both University students and industry professionals, with countless Universities worldwide creating online learning courses, alongside traditional face-to-face learning. Without a doubt, online learning opens great opportunities for students, both old and young, to challenge themselves and expand their horizons. But, how about online learning for elementary students? Does it work? Let’s examine five key benefits of online learning for gifted and talented elementary students.
1. Self-paced learning
Gifted students are empowered with the ability to learn faster than the prescribed pace of learning in the elementary school syllabus. A lack of engaging and challenging content is a major reason why students seek external programs in gifted education. Traditional classroom environments require teachers to accommodate educational content to a diverse mix of students, with varying levels of ability. Therefore, the pace of learning within conventional classroom environments is expected to be slow.
How about tutoring classes then? Many after-school tutoring services aim to pitch at a higher difficulty level than the elementary school syllabus, however, these classes, similar to school classrooms, are often facilitated in group learning environments. In such group environments, the pace of learning is constrained by the skill level of students within each particular class and not catered to each individual. Additionally, tutoring classes are often structured with rigid lesson plans and hence there is no guarantee that the difficulty level and pace of learning, set by these pre-determined standards, is suitable for your child.
Online programs, on the other hand, are a unique, individualised learning experience and empower students and parents to set their own flexible pace of learning. With the freedom to access learning material at your convenience, set your own unique pace of learning and freely review topics, online learning programs enable you to shape your child’s unique learning experience.
2. Flexibility and convenience
Enrolling children in external programs requires students and parents to make regular time commitments. Combined with trips to swimming classes, dance recitals, music lessons and athletics events, there is little room left for tutoring. In fact, often for parents who work full time, sending children to after-school tutoring is simply out of the question.
Unlike, tutoring classes, the time commitment made to online learning programs is flexible. This enables parents the flexibility to plan their children’s study time around other commitments. Perhaps an hour of study time after dinner? Or an hour on a Sunday afternoon? Online course materials are accessible online anytime, anywhere and do not require arduous car trips during peak hour traffic.
3. Opportunity to learn with your child
I have met many parents over the past few years. Whilst some are happy to leave the responsibility upon teachers to educate their children, many express an interest in being part of their children’s learning journey. In my experience, I have found that parents are eager to be involved in the learning experiences of their children. But, afraid that their teaching methods may be inconsistent with those taught in elementary school and hence lead to confusion for their children, parents are often reluctant to interact in their children’s education.
Online programs provide an opportunity for parents to learn alongside their children and be directly involved in their learning journey. These online learning tools enable parents to review lessons with their children and track their progress in real time. Alternatively, students can also track their learning and review their progress independently. Providing transparency and flexibility in learning, online platforms allow parents the freedom to choose the level of involvement they prefer.
4. Accessibility to authors
You have bought a textbook for your child from a school bookshop, tutoring centre or bookstore. You want to ask questions about the textbook – what exercises are targeted at what skills? What difficulty level does the content cater to? When you ask such questions to teachers, tutors or sales staff, they will often not have sufficient information to address your queries. Such questions can only be answered by textbook authors, who are often impossible to contact. The reason for this is that, traditionally, authors are responsible solely for writing content and once this content is finished, the remainder of the publishing process is handled by sales and publishing staff. In fact, even if you speak to teachers or professors, they will tell you that when deciding which textbook to use, they interact solely with sales representatives and publishers, rather than authors.
Online programs, on the other hand, allow students avenues to directly contact authors of educational material. Free from the involvement of traditional publishers, authors of online programs independently “publish” their content via various online platforms. Moreover, many online content creators also manage the marketing of their own educational programs, which provides an avenue for students and parents to interact with these creators prior to enrolling in their programs. Social media platforms and forums, which directly connect authors to users, facilitate open conversation and empower users to have their questions clarified.
5. Lower costs
Last but not least, online programs are significantly inexpensive, when compared to traditional face-to-face programs. Teaching fees, course booklet costs and rental costs, are some of the myriad costs associated with face-to-face programs. In these programs, fees are calculated based upon the amount of time that your child spends in the classroom. In contrast, online programs usually only require a nominal one-off fee, with unlimited access to course materials over a period of time. This unlimited use feature of online programs proves useful especially for subjects that involve technical knowledge and thinking, such as Math and Science. Revision and clarification of understanding is integral to effectively learn such subjects. The open and flexible structure of instructional videos, free to be viewed multiple times, and interactive exercises on an online platform are perfect for this. In this manner, online programs are not only cheaper than face-to-face programs, but also provide a better learning experience.
Gifted students are independent learners, curious and eager to acquire new knowledge. The availability of high quality online learning platforms, external to the school system, facilitate the transfer of knowledge between students and educators. Flexible and interactive online programs can empower gifted students to reach their full potential.
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Esther Cheung is Co-founder of 3C Learning and the author of numerous online educational programs for gifted elementary students. Passionate about empowering gifted children and growing their unique learning abilities, Esther is dedicated to creating educational resources to develop skills that are not addressed by the conventional school syllabus. Revolutionising gifted education, Esther developed 3C learning to support and empower gifted students to reach their academic potential. Join her Facebook Group for gifted education tips, techniques, ideas, and resources.