We came across a brief post on a homeschooling blog we visit from time to time, mentioning that Stanford University’s Nick Parlante will offer Computer Science 101 free online starting in February 2012. Two things (okay, three) about this interest us:
1. It reminds us, and we are thus reminding you, that there are incredible, wonderful, free resources in a vast range of subjects available online for anyone interested. This is exactly what high-potential learners need. Have a kid who’s interested in math? Watch Vi Hart videos, or try Khan Academy, or check out livingmath.net. Have a high-level learner? Check out MIT’s OpenCoursware. Want to learn Latin, but have a visual learner? Try Visual Latin (ok, that’s not free to really learn deep, but the first six lessons are free). Gifted Homeschoolers’ Forum has a list of favorite things that covers a great many topics.
Downside: If you don’t have internet access and/or a computer (some sites don’t work on smartphones, for example), you may not be able to access these more than perhaps at a public library. One more vote for broadening access to the Internet for everyone!
2. We love the fact that resources like these make it possible to customize learning to fit your child’s (or your own) needs. Learn better in the evening? Do your work then! Prefer to learn deep, rather than wide? Explore as deep as you like! Have plenty of ideas about how to teach kids math, but don’t know what a sentence diagram is, or why you would possibly want to know or have your kids know? Look it up online!
3. OK, this is maybe just us, but computer science is fascinating. Computers are part of our lives in such integral ways now. Understanding at least the basics about how they work seems valuable.
High-potential learners, particularly very asynchronous children, need to be allowed tackle big concepts before they’ve mastered the small steps along the way. Their brains are thirsty for this depth and complexity. When they’re ready, they’ll circle back and fill in holes. Let them soar!