"Independent study can be the ideal process for working with gifted children if it has been well thought out; otherwise, learners can feel ‘stressed and dissatisfied’, with the work produced being below expectations."
Cathcart (2005) identifies the following common reasons for poor results from independent learning:
Teachers need to teach gifted learners the research skills required to complete an independent study and provide them with guidance (Johnson & Goree, 2009), including encouraging them to choose study topics that they enjoy (Davis & Rimm, 2004).
Kuhlthau (as cited in Davis & Rimm, 2004, p. 141) described six steps to independent research, along with the emotion that these steps invoke in the student:
It is important that teachers discuss these emotions with gifted learners so that they are aware that it is natural to be experiencing them.
Employees at Google are allowed to use up to 20% of their workweek to pursue their own interest projects. Therefore, every 1 in 5 workdays, these employees can work on something that is not related directly to their duties. Google maintains that many of their products have come about because of these interest projects.
This idea is easily transferrable to the classroom. Learners could ‘opt out’ of class for a day to work on a ‘passion’. Like any independent learning, guidelines need to be used to ensure that learners know what is expected, in terms of both performance and behaviour.
The New Zealand Gazette, 93 (31 August 2015) outlines the enrolment policy for Te Kura, including the following fully funded options that may apply to gifted learners:
(a) PAT and asTTle or equivalent assessments show that the learner is exceptionally able and in the top 5% of their age group for the subject; and
(b) the registering school substantiates that the dual tuition is essential to the learners’ learning programme; it can appropriately supervise and integrate the tuition; and it is undertaking a programme of development to enhance their ability to provide similar enrichment and extension programmes.