Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To one's full potential

One of the hardest concepts for a parent of a gifted child to contend with is "full potential". People love to talk about allowing children to work to "their full potential" until they encounter a gifted child - especially a profoundly gifted child. We found this out with my eldest. He had been grade skipped into Kindergarten, was reading a a First grade level, but something just wasn't "right". So, we took him to a psychologist who specializes in working with gifted children (and who is amazing by the way!!) and our suspicion was confirm - he was dyslexic. As we searched deeper into his issue with reading we also found he had severe vision issues.
Now, fixing the "reading problems" of a child reading two grade levels above where he should be age wise becomes a challenge. Not to us, but to the traditional world of education, which we found we just couldn't bear to navigate. "Problem, what problem? He is the best reader in the class!" Okay. That might be true, but that wasn't his full potential and that wasn't okay with us and it shouldn't be okay with anyone.
I found people are very comfortable encouraging a child to work to their potential when you are talking about a child below the norm. Of course we want every child to be all they can be! Really? I had hoped this would be the case. Unfortunately, I began to feel the push to isolate and conceal. Conceal the fact that our three year old twins would be doing First grade math in the fall. When a gifted child begins to work to their full potential, it can become very uncomfortable for those around the child. It seems unnatural - does this little kid really like math that much? Yes.
I believe one of the hardest things people must fight against is comparison. My children working at advanced levels in academic subjects in no slight against any other child on the planet. My husband and I don't think our children better than any other children, we don't look down on anyone and don't consider other children "behind". Honestly, we are so busy trying to hang on for dear life as our children learn and grow we don't have time to think, let alone think ourselves "lucky" or "above". How can I think of myself as above, I need to wear a life preserver to keep for sinking under the weight of the challenge and responsibility of educating these three children that refuse to fit into a box called "age appropriate".
That is really what this blog is about. Wanting to finally give a voice to all those parents like us, hanging on for the ride. To show the people there is no formula for a gifted child, if they learn to read at 3 or 5 or 7, it really isn't the work of brilliant parents - these kids are just made in a unique way. Having at least one "twice exceptional" child (a gifted child with a learning disability) is an even bigger challenge. Have you ever seen someone park in a handicapped parking space - only to get out of the car looking perfectly healthy? This is the plight of the twice exceptional child - no one can "see" the disability - so they believe you are a fake and a phony trying to get some unfair advantage. So, here we are - dealing with the jeers and the sneers as we struggle with challenges people can't see with the naked eye. Its okay though - my child is worth the the struggle of giving him the opportunity to work to his "full potential". I'll admit, its amazing to watch.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Your kids are doing what?

Have you ever had "this" conversation? If you are the parent of a gifted child, the answer is probably yes. If you are the parent of a homeschooler, the answer is more often than not yes. If you are the parent of a gifted homeschooled child - the answer is definitely "YES"! It is often hard for many people to come to terms with what it is like to homeschool a gifted child. The is particularly true for young gifted children. Due to asynchronous development, it is not uncommon for gifted young children to have a curriculum plan that looks like Frankenstein went and got a PhD in Education. When I talk of our children doing both phonics and physics, people look at me like I have 2 heads, and only because the third just fell off and dropped onto the floor!
But, it is our life, so I thought I would write about. This isn't so much for others, but just to help me organize our lives. And yes, it is June and I am preparing for Fall. It will honestly take me that long to get everything organized. Mainly because with gifted young children - you are constantly balancing developmentally appropriate with age appropriate. Writing is limited by fine motor skills. Reading is limited by vision development and font size. Diving into an online "live" course is limited by nap time! And no matter how open minded another robot "geek" is, it just isn't cool to say your best buddy and collaboration partner when it comes to robot design is five years old - especially when you are 12! So, we are always walking a tightrope, finding resources that will work with our lives. Deciding just how "deep" we can go with certain issues. This is why we have chosen to stay clear of history for a bit. Not because I deem history unimportant, but because I know the types of questions my three year old daughter asks, and she isn't emotionally prepared to handle the "why" of slavery or war or human sacrifice or many of the other issues that would take place when we studied anything from American history to Egyptian history.
So, what are we doing?
This fall we will be doing the following subjects:
Intensive Phonics
Nature Science
Music Appreciation
Each child will also continue in their musical instruments (one on drums, one on violin, one on piano)
We will be doing one weekly coop (we think) and one occasional coop for field trips and special events.
We will also be doing some "specials"
Bible/Ethics/Moral Development

The kids also get to do some clubs at a private school that are available to us through their afterschool program:
Mandarin Club
Dance Club
Art Club
Science Club

My eldest will also be trying out  a Science Club through a local organization.

Here's to preparing for a great Fall!