There are definitely stereotypes when it comes to gifted kids. For instance, people might picture an awkward child with glasses who plays chess and cello and snorts when laughing.
Parts of that may be true for some gifted kids, but they’re often not at all like people expect. Some have glasses and some play instruments. Others are more interested in video games than chess.
These kids are wonderfully unique and sometimes frustratingly difficult, but always engaging. Gifted brains work differently. The ability to process information quickly means education best serves them when tweaked and fine-tuned to meet these very real needs.
Gifted Kids Often Need A Tailored Education
One thing that’s super important when tweaking education is to set aside stereotypes and expectations about what gifted kids “should” be doing and learning. Giftedness is way more than simply excelling at book learning. In fact, some gifted kids won’t even begin to excel in book learning. Instead, they may have an unbelievable natural drive and talent for dance, art, music, technology, or even nature study.
When parents are sensitive to gifted passions and watch carefully for frustrations, the education can be perfectly tailored.
Let’s see how a subject can be stereotyped just as much as a child can. For instance, some people think nature study isn’t a worthwhile subject. The belief is that it isn’t rigorous enough, structured enough, or scholarly enough to be considered real science. These beliefs couldn’t be further from the truth.
Nature Study Offers Hands-On Learning
While each gifted kid is different, as a group they benefit greatly from hands-on learning. Without the need for much repetition or review, these kids are ready to move on quickly and learn as much as they can.
A hallmark of giftedness is the ability to form connections and draw conclusions easily, so the opportunity to experience learning is ideal. Rather than being bound by whatever is printed in a textbook, nature study allows for wide-open minds to learn in wide-open environments. It never reaches a limit to what can be studied.
Experiential Learning Encourages Higher-Order Thinking Skills
The hands-on experiences enjoyed through nature study provide for layered learning. It’s easy to take what has been read to what is felt, seen, heard, and smelled. For example, handling caterpillars that were previously only read about promises to form a connection that is real. Or, by walking among the trees described in a book, the gifted child experiences what is learned, rather than memorizing it.
With the ability to form connections between what is read in a book and what is real, the next leap forward is higher-order thinking skills. Nature study is perfect for gifted kids, providing 3-D learning that encourages connections, creativity, and idea development. For brains that need to move quickly and absorb more, what could be more fitting than a limitless supply of subjects and experience?
Nature Study Provides Plenty of Room for Exploration
Parents of gifted kids will likely nod their heads and chuckle in understanding when to hear how obsessive gifted kids can be. Interest-led learning is a fantastic model for these kiddos, and they thrive while doing unit studies. No one can embrace a rabbit trail like a gifted child, with their studies – or obsessions – sometimes lasting for years. Nature study is ideal, offering a limitless supply of information, possibility, experience, and curiosity.
By embracing nature study in the homeschool, gifted kids can follow every rabbit trail they happen upon, both metaphorically and literally. There will never be too few animals to observe or not enough plants to study. What begins as a leisurely walk can turn into a year-long journey. The deeper that study becomes, the more branches pop up, promising further study, more to learn, more to research, and more to look for. It’s the one small step that leads to a giant leap in understanding their environment.
Gifted kids can choose to focus and submerge themselves in a topic they find fascinating. But it’s also easy to move on to another species, variety, or occurrence that holds more interest. There is no end to options and no limitation to the learning opportunities.
Nature Study is Calming
While again recognizing that every gifted child is unique, there are still trademarks, quirks, or experiences that are shared by a large portion of the gifted community. One of the most profound and misunderstood traits is the intensity with which gifted children experience emotions and the world around them. Often plagued by perfectionism or anxiety, they can have feelings that are bigger than themselves. They also find themselves in need of mindfulness techniques, calming tools, and plans in place to help them de-escalate or breathe deeply.
Fortunately, nature study has been proven to be incredibly beneficial for mental and emotional health. It combines learning with the calming powers of fresh air and the regenerative effects of the sun. Additionally, children are able to work their minds while relaxing their bodies.
There are no answers to get right and no chapters hanging incomplete over their heads, but just pure exploration. Curiosity is fed rather than fear. Instead of worrying about what might go wrong, children are allowed to wonder what lies beyond. Beyond the tree line, beyond the bee hive. They are free to explore and learn in an environment that nourishes as much as it teaches.
Nature study can be as structured or as relaxed as your child needs, providing either a safety net or an open door. Simply put, nature study offers something that cannot be quantified to children who often cannot be measured themselves.
Creative Curriculum Makes Nature Study Easy
As a mom of gifted kids and a former public school teacher, I understand the daily challenges of gifted kids. It’s one reason I’ve always written curricula to include lots of creative learning ideas. The creativity can spark the interests of gifted kids and not-so-gifted (or even remotely interested) kids alike. There’s wiggle room (and even prompts) for investigations, nature journaling, research, hands-on activities, reading, and more. The learning can take a student further during a nature walk or later at home.
With more than 30 curriculum topics and a handful of learning style options, help your nature lover to “dig deeper”. Or, expose a kiddo who doesn’t know they love nature yet to the incredible world of science waiting for them.
Where to start with so many curriculum options? Read through the descriptions below to see which style is most likely to interest your child and start there.
- Does your child want to dig deep into nature study topics with creative nature walks, hands-on activities, kid-friendly research projects, literature, poetry, artist & composer study, and printable notebooking pages? You’re looking for the NaturExplorers series! (Christian)
- Do you want a grab-n-go curriculum guide that simply gives you quick, easy, and meaningful nature walk ideas that get you out the door without much effort – yet still pack a lot of punch? You’ll probably be most interested in 100+ Creative Nature Walks! (neutral)
- Do you want print-n-go curriculum that includes everything you need on simple, yet powerful nature notebooking pages? You should check out 40 Nature Walks: Science Labs On-the-Go! (neutral)
- Do you prefer to take a non-traditional approach to nature study and learn around the kitchen table with your entire family using exciting multimedia? Then No Sweat Nature Study DIGITAL curriculum is probably your style! (neutral)
- Would you rather someone (ME) teach science through nature study to your children for you? Then No Sweat Nature Study LIVE is your go-to choice! (neutral)
Nature Study is a Truly Magical Way to Learn
Combining the wonder of the unknown with the knowledge achieved by study makes for remarkable experiences that go far beyond naming plants. Nature study is flexible enough to be made as rigorous as needed, vast enough to allow for limitless small interests, and healing enough to provide more than knowledge.
Gifted kids who are fortunate enough to participate in nature study find themselves in the perfect place, between knowing and experiencing, unexplored and documented. With the intensity of both feeling and curiosity, nature study is the perfect way for gifted kids to learn.
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