Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Professor X Needed a School for the Gifted

In this month's Gifted Homeschooler's Forum Blog Hop we got an opportunity to talk about why community was important. Going back to my "mutant roots" let's talk about  why Professor X, of the X-Men, needed a school for the gifted - and why us mere humans need such a community as well.

Hope you enjoy!

Remember - Mutant and Proud!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Join me for a webinar on Teaching the Dyslexic Advantages with a STEM Homeschool

While many people know we have a STEM based homeschool, most don't know the driving reason behind that decision was the way STEM lends itself to maximizing the dyslexic advantages. I learned about the advantages of dyslexia through a book by Drs Brock and Fernette Eide, both MDs. Their book, "The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain" described the four common advantages, or strengths, associated with dyslexia. I took each of the found "M.I.N.D." strengths and integrated them as fundamental principles in our homeschool with amazing results. The way I integrated those strengths was through have a STEM based homeschool.
After following this philosophy for going into our fourth year, I see my children not only thrive, but exceed my wildest expectation.
I had a conversation with Dr. Fernette Eide, talking to her about our homeschool and how we used the dyslexic advantages and she asked if I would be willing to share what we do in our homeschool with others. I am so excited about the opportunity to do just that with a webinar taking place this Wednesday, October 8th, at 5:30 PM PST. If you would like to attend, please feel free to register at the link below. I will be explaining in depth how we set up a STEM based homeschool, how we integrated the dyslexic advantages into every aspect of our homeschool, and advice for others who think all or parts of this philosophy will work for them. The webinar is free and should last roughly an hour. Hope to see you there. Click on the link below to register.

Click here:
Dyslexic Advantage Webinar: Teaching the Dyslexic Advantages with a STEM Homeschool

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Superheroes and Created Villains

Identified gifted children can sometimes look like Superman in their intellectual abilities. Seeing their abilities can make having a Superman seem very desirable. However, in an effort to create a Superhero, we can turn a child's experience into that of a created villain. Let's talk about non-identitification and misidentification.

Please check out some of the other amazing blogs for this month at:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Parenting Children That Don't Exist

I decided to a vlog instead of a blog for this month's topic of Gifted Parenting. I wanted to take my time with this subject and share my heart in discussing my experience of parenting what I call minority cubed children (gifted, homeschooled, African American). While the video is a bit on the long side, I hope you grab a cup of tea and view!

Feel free to share your heart and comment.


Dr. J

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If All Kids are Gifted, Why Isn't Mine in First Place?

I decided to throw my hat into the ring in response to the “All Children are Gifted” mantra that has reared its head recently. It came about because some parents were upset because their children weren’t identified as “gifted”. Because their children weren’t identified as “gifted” they began to demand that “all children are gifted”, which really means “no children are gifted”. It is a jealous and ill-informed rant, a fear they are being left out of some exclusive club. I honestly think they picture gifted families sitting around on yachts, drinking fruity drinks in diamond rimmed glasses, and laughing as our kids get showered with money, and flowers, and candy. Guess what? That isn’t what happens in gifted families. Take a short trip in my world and I am sure you would thank your lucky stars your kid isn't "gifted".

Let me address the notion that “all children are intellectually gifted”. No one in their right mind would declare that “all children are athletically gifted”. My three, highly to profoundly intellectually gifted children are not athletically gifted. They are, however, athletes. They run track; they LOVE track. My eldest runs quite often against an athletically gifted child, let’s call him “The Rock”. The Rock is a curly haired, skinny, actually pretty short kid that you wouldn’t suspect of being a rock star on the track. All that changes when you see him run the 800 and the 1600 meter dash. Last year they were in the 8 and under category, and over the winter The Rock and my son moved up to the 9 – 10 category. The Rock runs these two races so fast that he has the fastest time for the next 3- 4 age categories consistently. I was so intrigued by his skill I looked up his times and historically, not only would he have made the Olympics if he were running 30 years ago, he would have likely been on the medal stand.

The cold hard facts are that my kid will never beat The Rock. That has not at all dampened my kid’s love of running. In fact, he enjoys running against The Rock, it encourage him to run faster. He likes to lessen the amount of time by which he is beat! I cheer for my kid as if he came in first place. I cheer not to appease, but because I know he is out there giving it his all and when he gives his all that is good enough for him and for me. We don’t need to collect medals or trophies; I just need my kid to do what he loves to the best of his ability. I also love watching The Rock run. It is a thing of beauty to see that kid in action, what the human body can do when it is doing what that particularly body is designed to do perfectly well – is stunning. My other kids like to cheer for both their brother “Speedster” (who is probably dead last in the race) and The Rock – who is running like the wind. They too can recognize giftedness and realize that Speedster and the Rock are two different types of runners. One is showing what giftedness, given an opportunity to shine, looks like. The other is showing that every race is personal, and having the courage to go, and run, and finish – outside of medal contention, outside of being put on a pedestal with cameras clicking, to only the 4 or 5 voices shouting from the crowd still watching you run – an entire lap behind the rest of the field, it is still worth competing.

At no point have I ever asked the U S A Track and Field Associated to ban The Rock. Never have I asked any sports venue to stop giving out medals. Never have I grabbed the microphone and declare that “all kids are gifted runners” because my kid wasn’t on the medal stand. I feel nothing but joy for The Rock. I am genuinely proud that I get an opportunity to witness this athletically gifted child come into his own as a track star. We often talk about how my Speedster will one day tell a group of friends while they watch The Rock run in the Olympics – yeah, I ran against him when he was 8 years old! My son would lose out on so much if The Rock ever stopped running because people got mad that he wins every, single 800 and 1600 that he enters. Oh wait, that isn’t true. The Rock doesn’t win every one. While he is the fastest in our state, he isn’t the fastest in the country. Sometimes he comes in second, or third, or fifth when he gets an opportunity to compete against his true peers. This year summer my family is looking forward to traveling to a national competition. My 3 kids will be participating in a triathlon and they might even get to compete in the national event (slowly they are getting better; sometimes they don’t come in last place). I am quite sure they won’t win, even if they quality to compete. They know it too, but they will run anyway. They are running for themselves, not chasing medals or rainbows. Just like their athletically gifted counterparts are running for themselves, and getting medals and applause because society enjoys seeing how close the human body can get to perfection.

If everyone is “gifted” in everything, then no one is good at anything. Maybe the issue isn’t whether or not children should be identified as “gifted”, but that parents should stop being happy only if their child is identified as some sort of “elite” in everything that they do. Chances are, your 6 year old will never “catch” my 6 year old daughter in math. She finished Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade math in 4 months’ time – at 5 years old. Just to be “sure” she knew her stuff, I gave her a different Second Grade math book – she finished it in 5 weeks. She was adding with binary numbers, just for fun, at 5 years old as well. She sometimes wanted us to read her math books as her bedtime story.  Does your child do that? If not, they are probably not intellectually gifted. To tell yourself that they are is to create unreasonable expectations for your child. Unless we start to define being “intellectually gifted” as being a typical 5 year old. At that point, it will be clear that my daughter is something “other” than that, and before you know it there will be some other title that you will have to find a way to tear down and destroy because you can’t bear to hear some other child get applause.

It is a scary world where people parent in a way that won’t allow their children to still feel comfortable and confident with themselves  if others are better than them at one thing or another. My kids have tasted last place and it still went down like honey because they were brave enough to try, to get out there and run, to give it their all. Sometimes my daughter meets another 6 year old that can crush her in math – she still loves math. See, it doesn’t hurt my daughter to understand there are people out there in the world that are better than her in some things, in a lot of things. My job as a parent is not to go chop the world down to a size that will make my kids always a winner, my job is to help my children find their passions in life and pursue them with gusto. My job is to help my children fly as high as they can. In some things, like track – they may fly as low as a bumblebee. They will fly low, slow, choppy, and won’t be noticed much at all. Other times they will soar like eagles and people will watch them in amazement. No matter if they are having a bumblebee moment or an eagle moment – they will always have a mother and a father there cheering them on, simply because they are flying. I personally wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror if in their bumblebee moment, I got embarrassed and decided to try and destroy the innocent eagles flying around them.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The musings of Gifted and Sensory Processing Disorder

Sometimes people wonder why I talked about my kids being "gifted" so often. It isn't really about the IQ, but more about wanting to give people a glimpse into the full aspects of the world. One of the more common traits discussed among parents of gifted children is the issue of Sensory Processing Disorder, often referred to as Over Excitability. I am linking a video I did a while ago to show how the issues with Kel El/Clarke Kent in a school room were so similar to what happens with my kids. That is why I liken gifted children to Superman. When you have gifted children, you see one of the biggest things to Kel El struggles with - loneliness. It doesn't matter if he/she is in a public school/private school/ or homeschool, it is rare to find highly to profoundly gifted children with a lot of friends. Most gifted kids struggle with "fitting in" not because they are smart, but because they are different. Not just a little different. It is easy to understand how a child 2 - 3 standard deviations below the "norm" are different, we have so much compassion and empathy - we teach this empathy to our children. We rarely sit back and evaluate that 2 - 3 standard deviations above the norm is just as different and that difference shines through in sensory issues.
The easiest example for me to share is the sensory issue of hearing. We struggle often with my children and their hearing and it isn't because they can't hear - but because they hear too well. My daughter has had her hearing tested so often I am losing track. She failed her first hearing test as a newborn, then she passed the second one - they eventually concluded that maybe the machine was broken. It wasn't. My daughter fights with her hearing and turns it "off" and "on" regularly. Why? Because when her hearing is "on" she tops out every machine tried on her for testing human hearing. Meaning as high as the machine can test - she can hear at that range. Her range of hearing is literally "off the charts", meaning when they go to chart her range of hearing, the marks are above what the chart records - because so few humans can hear that well. While good normal human hearing is great, extreme hearing is debilitating. Imagine sitting in a room and hearing every, single, solitary noise that can be picked up by the human ear. Imagine hearing things other people can't hear. No really - what happens when my daughter is in a group and keeps asking people "did you hear that guy laugh?" No, they didn't hear that guy laugh, because they guy was laughing 3 rooms away with the door closed. No one even sees the guy or knows he is in a room 3 doors away - so she becomes the kid that is "hearing things". Do you want to play with a kid that "hears things"? Things no one else in a room of 20 other people hear? How would you feel if you ALWAYS heard things other people said they couldn't hear? Would you begin to feel a little crazy? In an effort to stop some of the noise, my daughter's body will automatically turn her hearing off when it just gets too much - she goes from hearing too much to not hearing thing she should. So, this little girl that was hearing a guy laugh 3 rooms away now can't hear someone calling her name. Now, take this phenomenon and apply it to all the other senses as well - taste, touch, smell, sight.
See why your kid hitting my kid "for fun" is such a big deal? Because my kid's sense of tough is so heightened that it really did hurt, even if you kids was "just kidding". I don't keep my kids in a bubble - they have to go out in the world and live their life and make friends and all that other good stuff. It's just hard that they are constantly reminded that thing aren't quite made "for them". It really is like being "Superman". Sure they can do math with ease and read even with dyslexia and discuss with great detail some of the finer points of structural engineering. But, at the end of the day - sometimes you just want to hear the birds and the breeze; sometimes you just want to smell the rain, sometimes you just want to touch the soft petals of a rose, sometimes you want to just play a fun game of tag. Being young, with sensory issues - means all of those things take my kids great lengths to experience - because they have to filter out hundreds of other sounds, smells, touches, tastes, etc. You can just eat a piece of cake, they can taste every ingredient in the cake with each bite. This is one of the reasons my kids request one thing to eat every day - rice. Just plain white rice - everything else is just so absolutely complicated. Sure, they like sweets, but those things are tiring for the body and mind because they are processing so much information just eating a cookie. My eldest had an allergic reaction to an ingredient the FDA still declares humans cannot have an allergic reaction to, so it isn't required to be on food labeling. Now, even I love rice.
So, when I say "Gifted" - don't get mad. Other people put all that pressure on "gifted" to mean something it was never intended to mean. Just like Kel El declare on his chest - it wasn't an "S". So even though everyone declared him "Superman" based on the "S" on his shirt - it wasn't even an "S" to begin with. Even though everyone thinks parents are bragging about our kids being "Smart" when we say they are "Gifted"; newsflash - it isn't an "S"