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Gifted in Math

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: My son is currently in fourth grade, taking algebra with the eighth-graders at our K-8 school. Next year, he would take geometry at the high school, which would involve a disruption to his regular class schedule. My other options are to homeschool him and take him to the high school for math or keep him in his regular school and have him tutored after school in math. My son enjoys being with other kids for math, and he is also an independent learner. Do you have any advice on this issue? Thanks.

A: Your son's love of math is the first consideration. In many ways you're facing a wonderful dilemma. Here are some possibilities that may or may not be available to you: distance learning for his math, either as a correspondence class or through interactive TV; a math mentor to work with him at his home school three days a week with self-directed learning on the other two, and a math club for the social aspects of math; computer-assisted learning with a math club for social interaction; Math Counts competition paired with other options; acceptance in one of the talent search programs (depending on your location) where he could take advanced math classes in an accelerated format - for instance, geometry as a three-week summer class; and/or the options you suggest. Try to think about multiple options that could be blended to meet his, your, and the school's needs, keeping his love of math at the fore of the decision.
Good luck.

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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.


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