This blog post has been written in collaboration with CTC Math, who gave my family free access to their online Maths programme and compensated me for my time. The following may also contain affiliate links (see “Disclaimer”)
Tears. Tantrums. Frustration. For many of our children, Maths can be a struggle; a struggle for chldren to learn and a struggle for homeschooling parents to teach.
When you are homeschooling a gifted child, teaching Maths can be be just as challenging. Gifted children can also end up crying over their Maths, but the reason for their tears is not a lack of ability or understanding, but instead due to frustration, boredom or trying to simply dealing with the intense emotions that gifted children notoriously experience.
Teaching maths to the high-achieving and gifted student can be both immensely rewarding and incredibly frustrating for homeschooling families! Although gifted children are usually quick to understand an apply mathematical concepts, they also bring with them a unique set of challenges that other homeschooling parents may not have to face.
It is worth noting, that there is a difference between “giftedness” and being a high achiever. For more information about the difference, read this simple introduction from Psychology Today.
It’s also important to remember that not all gifted students are “gifted” in Maths. Being intellectually gifted can mean an increased aptitude or talent in any number of academic subjects or creative pursuits. However, for simplicity’s sake, when I talk about “gifted” children in this blog post, please assume I am referring to those who are mathematically gifted.
From my own personal experience, I have compiled my top tips on “How to teach Maths to gifted and high-achieving children”, to help you teach Maths to your own children. This advice is what has worked in my home, and I hope that is will give you some ideas for your children too.
1. Forget the Way You Learnt Maths!
Unless you were fortunate to be homescholed, the likelihood is that the way you learnt maths is not going to work for your gifted children. Conventional all-in-one math curricula do not work well for gifted students.
Many of us are used to the idea that a math concept is taught, examples are given, and then the student practices this principle by completing many practice questions. Gifted students often no not need as much practice as conventional workbooks offer. They are able to fully grasp the concept and move onto its application much quicker than conventional curricula allows for.
This means that if you ask you gifted child to work through a conventional math programme, they will become increasingly bored and frustrated with its slow pace and repetition.
Instead, you need to get creative in the way you teach maths to gifted students! One way of doing this is by providing them with a variety of materials.
2. Use a Variety of Maths Resources
It may surprise you to know, that maths does not need to be taught with a textbook and workbook! In fact, there are many other ways that mathematical principles can be taught. In my experience, these are often more effective and memorable than the traditional maths textbook.
- Living Books – Children can learn maths through stories! Find well-written mathematical stories that ignite your child’s imagination and teach maths at the same time. My children have recently been enjoying The Adventures of Sir Cumference and What’s your angle Pythagoras?
- Problem solving/Critical Thinking – Develop you child’s analytical and problem solving skills with critical thinking books and exercises.
- Computer Programmes – Incorporating computer programmes into your curriculum can be a fantastic motivator for children. Our favourite online Math curriculum is CTC Math (see below)
- Variety of different workbooks – Mix and match different teaching styles and approaches to keep your gifted child interested and engaged in their learning.
3. Chose a Curriculum that allows for Flexibility
The introduction of CTC Math into our homeschool has provided us with both the structure and the flexibility that my children need. Using this online Math curriculum 3-4 times a week, has helped to ensure that my children are not missing any important concepts as they “jump about ” within their other varied maths resources.
It is also gives the student and parents the flexibility that is needed for so many gifted students. You no not “need” to complete previous lessons in order to move onto the next level. You do what YOUR CHILD NEEDS to do…and I love that about CTC Math!
In previous curricula we have tried, my son became infuriated with the unnecessary repetition and practice questions. With CTC Math, if your child understands the concept, you can move on!
It also allows you to enter your child into any grade that you, as the parent, feel is suitable. CTC Math has allowed my 6 year-old son to start 4th Grade maths, and it is wonderful to finally see him challenged by an online Maths programme.
The lesson begins by watching a short 4-9 minute video where a concept is taught by audio and animation. Then the student takes what they have learnt, and applies it to a series of practice questions. Parents are kept informed of their child’s progress with a weekly email showing their marks throughout the week.
The people behind CTC Math are very supportive of homeschooling families and offer 60% OFF the cost of the curriculum + 6 MONTHS FREE to homeschoolers! This massive discount is only available to homeschooling families. If you are interested in finding out more, CLICK HERE.
CTC Math works fantastically for gifted students because of the flexibility it offers. You can go back and repeat lesson, and you can jump as many lessons ahead as your gifted student wants to. In addition to this flexibility, it also gives parents the security of knowing that everything is being covered and there will be no gaps in their child’s knowledge.
CTC are offering a 2 WEEK FREE TRIAL at the moment. If you are interested in trying it out with you children for free, CLICK HERE to sign up for your FREE TRIAL
3. Make Maths Cross-Curricular
If your child has a natural talent for maths, they will enjoy bringing it into their other school subjects.
For example, we have studied maths whilst learning about Leonardo da Vinci and his incredible inventions. My son also learnt the “Pythagoras theorem” during our study of Ancient Greece. Together, we discovered the Fibonnacci sequence when learning about snails and their shells, in nature-study.
If your child is interested, maths can be brought into almost every subject as it is an integral part of our real-lives.
4. Apply Maths to Real-life situations
Life is full of learning opportunities, and maths is no different. In your day-to-day life, you can engage your gifted children with mathematical problems and meaningful learning. Here are just a few examples of how:
- Calculate distances trigonometry or estimate using the time it took to travel
- Help with finances and accounts – if like me, you run a business from home, having a child that loves maths can be very useful at times!
- Calculate probabilities
- Working out quantities needed for cooking or home-improvements
- Converting units
Teaching gifted children maths is challenging, and is certainly not simple! However, with a little creativity, it is very possible and very rewarding.
Gifted children need our attention and guidance, as much as other children do. Without it, they are at risk of become disengaged, uninterested and underachieving.
I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration and ideas of how to teach your gifted or high-achieving children Maths at home.
For further reading on home-educating gifted children, I would recommend “Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners” by Cindy West and “Creative Homeschooling : A Resource Guide for Smart Families” by Lisa Rivero
What have you found to be the most effective way of teaching maths to gifted children?
How do you balance the freedom and flexibility that they crave, with the need to “cover all bases”?
Please share your experiences with us all, in the comments below.
Peace and Love,
nurturingemaan28/11/2017 at 5:09 am (5 years ago)
When I started homeschool with my daughter last year we did a lot of math. She loved sorting things by size, she loved counting and then going a step ahead and putting 1 more or 1 less. I had to have many different activities ready for her each day for math. Now we have bought Fred (life of Fred) into our homeschool and she loves it. thank you for letting us know about CTCmath, I have signed up for the free trial and it looks amazing. I can’t wait for my daughter to try it.
Gemma Somauroo28/11/2017 at 12:45 pm (5 years ago)
Hi, It’s sounds like you’re doing an amazing job! We love Life of Fred too. It’s such a fun way to teach mathematical concepts. I’m thrilled to hear you’ve signed up for CTC Math. I hope your daughter likes it. All the best – Gemma
Saniv Marwaha10/10/2021 at 12:42 pm (1 year ago)
You points are very valid and equally important for any normal child who is doing homeschool. As a matter of fact we have been working on hands-on-mathematics for the last ten years and helped many school maths teacher’s.
Every child is different & has different learning curve, parents of the Gifted or high achieving children need to prepare more and keep the ammunition ready. Another way can be to engage them in with Higher order thinking questions, maths puzzles & games. This would lead of high satisfaction.
It was certainly a good read.