10 Ways to Challenge and Engage Academically-Gifted Kids at Home

Whether it’s Summer vacation or a pandemic, keeping any child engaged at home for long periods of time can be tough. It’s that much more challenging when you have an academically-advanced child.

While Sheldon Cooper was a beloved genius on The Big Bang Theory, no parent wants their child to be like him. His challenges and social ineptitude are exaggerated, but they’re based in reality. Academic intelligence is a gift that can become a burden if a child isn’t nurtured, educated and guided in other ways.

Think of home time as an opportunity to stretch their brain beyond standard academics. It’s your chance to provide a more well-rounded type of education, that will take them further in life and equip them with the tools they need to be happy. It will also reveal anything they may be struggling with, allowing you to focus more on that part of their development.

How to Challenge & Engage Gifted Kids at Home

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence focuses on emotional literacy & navigation, empathy and intrinsic motivation. Since EQ has been identified, it has become a critical part of evaluating the potential of students, job seekers and leaders. In today’s world, it’s often valued more highly than IQ because it’s a key indicator of success.

Highly intelligent people often struggle with emotional intelligence, unless a consistent effort to develop it is started in childhood. The analytical, logical mind has to be tempered by emotions, and vice versa.

“As a kid grows into a teen and then an adult, EQ becomes tied to internal motivation and self-regulation,” writes Lisa Kadane for Today’s Parent. “It governs how she makes decisions or harnesses her thoughts and feelings to cope with stress, solve problems and pursue goals.”

Emotional intelligence can be taught and nurtured by example, and is reinforced with conversations, games, books, and entertainment. There are plenty of free games and videos available online.

Life Skills

Daily chores can be boring for most of us, but life skills must be learned as your child matures. You can make it more interesting for a highly-intelligent child by emphasizing the problem-solving aspect that’s often present in responsibility.

Beyond that, each skill can have intellectual angles that many overlook. Recipes are formulations designed to taste good. Why are some cookies crunchy while others are soft? Fabrics require different care. Why does some clothing require dry cleaning? Just what is dry cleaning anyway?


Everyone needs some things that they do for the sheer joy of it. Having a sense of accomplishment by doing something we enjoy is the reason any of us have hobbies. Hobbies can also be educational, but their real value is the combination of creativity and the fulfillment that comes with it. Additionally, there are communities built around most hobbies. Involvement in these communities provides socialization in an environment that makes it easy, because everyone has something in common that they’re passionate about.

Engaging Education

There’s a big difference between a presentation and a lecture, and engagement plays a big part in that difference. The more engaging a learning experience is, the more your child will get from it.

Brain Power is Canada’s award-winning provider of enriched learning. They offer a wide range of engaging online courses for kids in grades 1-12 who have demonstrated high academic potential. The staff are comprised of highly-qualified educators who are dynamic, passionate and trained in stand-up comedy!

Toys & Games

Most parents know toys and games are effective tools for learning, but it can be tough for them select the most engaging options for their advanced child. There’s so much more than Chess & puzzles! The National Association for Gifted Children has a fantastic list of toys and games that have been approved by kids of all ages who are advanced academically.

Imagination = Innovation

Explode the potential of gifted kids by complimenting their academic learning with their imagination. Whether it’s a scientific discovery, invention or envisioning possibilities, imagination backed by intelligence is a powerful combination. Find activities that inspire imagination, while specifically complimenting the skills that your child excels at.

Business Skills

The business skills you equip them with today will benefit your child no matter what career path he or she chooses, but they’ll be especially important if they decide to enter the entrepreneur or leadership worlds. They can learn about everything from finance to failure. Advanced kids will learn how their knowledge can apply to, and impact the real world and the world as they know it.


When we think of gifted children playing music we often think of the violin or classical piano. Music doesn’t have to be yet another thing to study. Let them choose the instrument or whatever way they want to enjoy music. It stimulates the brain in a variety of different ways and improves memory.

Charity Starts at Home

Charity work nurtures emotional intelligence through empathy. Helping others makes kids feel good about themselves and gets them out of their own head for awhile. They can even use their intellect to help, if they want to. Many charities would be happy to have a volunteer who can help with tech, for example.

Mental Health

Gifted kids are usually under an enormous amount of pressure from themselves, their family, teachers and peers. It’s critical that they learn healthy coping mechanisms to automatically tap into when they need them. These habits will serve them well as adults too.

As mental health awareness increases, so too does the number of resources available to nurture it. You’ll find many of them through parenting groups and associations. Take matters into your own hands with kids’ books designed to teach children how to take care of their mental health and deal with emotions.

Let Them Be Bored

Believe it or not, many good things can come from being bored.

“Boredom is healthy and a natural transitional phase that everybody needs to experience,” writes Nermeen Dashoush, Ph.D., a Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Boston University. “It’s a reality check that life will not be full of playdates and one scheduled event after another. However, if you allow these moments to play out, children will eventually look for things to do and their imaginations will ignite. Early childhood experts agree that allowing for these unscheduled and unstructured periods of time promotes creativity, imagination and independence.”

??? How do you keep your academically-advanced child engaged at home? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.


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B Cranston

I usually let my son lead the way because he knows what he wants to learn, but he’s needing some extra motivation after being at home for so long. Thank you!!


Thanks for these excellent suggestions. I have two gifted students at home right now and they’re favourite thing to do is enjoying nature like hiking or camping. You should hear the things they discuss out there! I don’t understand half of it but I know when they come home they’re happier teens.