Homeschooling the Gifted/Talented Child, Pt. 5

Just How Fast Should He Go?

One of the beauties of homeschooling is that a child can go as fast, or as slow, as needed in order to learn the needed material. With some gifted/talented (G/T) kids, going slow is not the problem. I know some kids who will whip through a year’s worth of math or science in just a couple of months, especially if you are using a curriculum where it is focused on reading and answering questions, followed by testing. Many G/T kids are left-brain learners, and this type of schooling is very easy for them. They can read the material, answer questions, test, and move on to the next topic.

Should they be allowed to? I mean, you’ve seen those TEDx Talks where there are 14-year-olds in college. You’ve heard of kids graduating college at 16. Is this best for the child?

On the other hand, if the child is learning easily, is it right to hold him back so he will be at a level for his same-aged peers? Does this lead to boredom? Acting out? Quitting school?

To be honest, in a public school setting, the second scenario is more than likely to be true. You are more apt to find G/T kids who are held back due to age, who get bored and begin to act out. It is not unusual for them to drop out as soon as they are old enough. I’ve seen it numerous times.

In fact, I believe that many of our behavior issues in schools today, outside of not eating real food, can be traced to boredom due to material being too easy or not being taught in their learning style.

So what does a parent do when their Johnny is speeding through their curriculum so fast he will be done in half the school year? I’m going to share some suggestions.

  1. Make sure that you are using a curriculum that is not just read and fill-in-the-blanks. There are so many choices available today that I would try to provide a learning program that provides a good deal of hands-on projects. Hands-on learning provides all types of opportunities for deeper learning, making mistakes, and making discoveries outside the pages of a textbook.
  2. For subjects of deeper interests, explore library books, documentaries, museums, businesses on the topic, etc. Allow the student to dig deeper, while at the same time making sure that they are not focusing only on the subject of interest. It is not unusual for a child to become so fascinated with a topic they can become walking encyclopedias on that particular topic. Our children need to be well-rounded learners.
  3. When they have taken the normal subjects pretty deep, be sure they have the opportunity for other learning such as music, art, photography, and sports. Each of these can allow the child to continue to learn while broadening their horizons. In today’s technical world, a child can be exposed to all types of museums online.
  4. If they are still speeding through these various topics, then it is time to turn their attention to the world and being of service. I love the Moore Formula in that students are encouraged to study, work, and be of service as part of their education. I used this template with my children. It helps give them a broader view of life. If you have problems finding places to volunteer, check out the United Way.
  5. The last option follows along with Moore’s Formula also. This is allowing them to develop a home business or help a parent in a home business (depending on age). Moore has some wonderful advice in his homeschooling books on the positive learning a child has by developing their own business.

When I was just beginning to homeschool, I met a family who had a 16-year-old son who started a computer consulting business at 14 and was in such demand that the parents had to limit his work hours due to taxes. This so impressed me that I adopted that mindset to help other young people develop ideas for their own self-employment.

When considering how deep to allow to go, it depends on the child’s age and maturity. There is nothing inherently wrong with graduating early and going to college as a pre-teen. Just remember that cognitive development is often not at the same level as emotional development in the G/T child. This is where the advanced graduation can cause some problems.

A child who is 14 and entering college will not be emotionally ready to socially interact with young adults who are experiencing living on their own for the first time and learning to set their own boundaries. Sometimes, even in our Christian schools, the older students are not as accepting of a child who has graduated years early. Life is hard enough to have to wade through teen years and early adult years without adding additional stressors.

I was given an option of placing my daughter several grades ahead. I turned it down. I had too many negative memories of being teased for being the youngest in honor classes and making the highest grades. From this homeschooler’s viewpoint, I chose to branch out to explore the wide variety of topics available rather than going so far ahead. There’s an unending amount of knowledge to learn. By going broad, rather than deep, a child can slow down enough to allow other parts of their development to catch up.

The Two-Sided Coin of Giftedness

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“The root of excellence is perfectionism. It is the driving force in the personality that propels the individual toward higher and higher goals. There is a strong correlation between perfectionism and giftedness. I have yet to meet a gifted person who wasn’t perfectionistic in some way,” Linda Kreger Silverman, Perfectionism.

Today, I want to discuss the pros/cons of one of the most common characteristic of a gifted (G/T) child. That characteristic is perfectionism. As I look back at my own childhood, I know this striving for perfection led to a lot of anxiety and depression. Part of my efforts at perfectionism were rooted in the unrealistic expectations of a parent. However, it was also paired with my own expectations. It took a lot of life-learning to reach the point where I had a healthier and balanced form of striving to do my best.

Being a mother and grammy to a pair of females who also strive for perfectionism, I see both sides of the coin from a more objective viewpoint. It is not a bad goal to want to always move forward in improving oneself. It is good to try to work on bad habits to move toward becoming more of what God wants us to be. It is good to have high standards for yourself so you do the best you can at everything you do. The Bible even talks about doing all we do as to the Lord.

The problem comes from not accepting that, no matter how hard we try, we still make mistakes. Accepting that is very important in removing the negative aspects of this two-sided coin. Those who do not accept this often will experience anxiety or depression, and can even be stuck in procrastination. It is not uncommon for those G/T children to be stuck in a project by a fear of failure. They get overwhelmed with the possibility of not being able to get everything correct, so they do not even get started.

Some children will often refuse to try to do something if they feel they cannot master the skill immediately. It is simply “too hard” and not to be attempted. This is very common among the G/T.

Other aspects of the negative side of the perfectionism include never feeling as if your work is good enough. No matter the hours of research and the number of rewrites on a paper, it is still not good enough. This constant feeling of not being good enough can also lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Sometimes, a child can begin to feel physical symptoms due to this anxiety.

Sometimes the perfectionist will be unable to relax and enjoy just being. They feel they must be continually be working on something. Some G/Ts feel that they have no real value outside of their ability to produce.

This has some deeper spiritual aspects since we all need to learn that no one is perfect outside of God, and that our work, no matter how good, is never enough to earn our salvation. It is the dependence on God that actually will help the G/T child learn to accept their innate value, and to try their best and allow God to take care of the rest.

Ways to Help:

To help the G/T child who is experiencing the negative side of the perfectionism coin, a parent can begin by making sure you are modeling acceptance of your own mistakes, even while you always try to do your best. Also, sometimes children do not perceive your mistakes. Be open about them. It is also a good practice to have your child hear you asking God for forgiveness and even help in doing better.

Work with the child to set SMART goals, while emphasizing that it is the process of learning that is important. Never allow the child to feel that your love of them is based on how well they do on a project.

Sometimes G/T kids are so scared of failure that they refuse to take risks. I’m not talking of unhealthy risky behavior, but just trying new things, whether that is trying out for a sport or entering a contest or learning how to dive. It is good for a child to learn something that will take practice to master. This will enlarge on their view of accepting themselves for not being perfect.

Striving for perfection is not a bad thing. We all should strive to move to be more Christ-like in all things. It’s when we cannot accept our best efforts that this characteristic can become a liability. As you work with your G/T child, help them to know that they are loved at all stages of learning, even when they are unable to immediately master a skill, and that God is there to help us in our walk to be the best we can be.

http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources-parents/social-emotional-issues/perfectionism
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/perfectionhg.htm

Homeschooling the Gifted/Talented Child, Pt. 1: The Other Special Needs Child

Little girl writing on blackboard - Learning and knowledge concept

Over the past few years, I have written extensively about how to homeschool “children with challenges” for this blog. When people hear that phrase or “special needs child,” they are thinking of a child who has learning challenges. In the past I only lightly touched the topic of homeschooling a child on the other end of the spectrum. This year one of the topics I will be addressing is how to meet the needs of the child who is gifted/talented (G/T).

Why listen to me about this topic? I grew up at the end of a magical time in the public schools. I attended schools that utilized ability grouping. I know these are talked down about these days, but in my time they were wonderful. Children were allowed to be with other children who had like educational abilities. No child had to sit and be bored while fellow classmates who needed more time to complete their work continued working. Those who needed extra attention and time had it — without being made to feel they were stupid or unusual, because the whole class went at the slower pace.

By the time I hit junior high, honor classes were introduced. We were placed in classes where the requirements were harder. I thrived in such an environment. The classes tended to have the same group of kids, so you were able to develop deeper friendships with kids who did not think you were odd. You were not made fun of if you dug in a little deeper on a special topic. High school found me continuing on the honor classes track.

Fast forward a few years to when I found myself with a child who was learning faster than I could keep up. In the early ’80s, there was very little support. There was certainly no internet to look up ideas. If you spoke with other moms, you were looked upon as if you were bragging. I found a few odd books at the library. When my daughter hit 4th grade, I found myself talking to teachers who only wanted her to sit with her head on the desk when she was finished with her work. She went from attending G/T classes once a week and being allowed to do special projects…to no support or extra help. Within six weeks I was desperate. A friend suggested I homeschool. That begun my journey of more than 20 years.

Many times, G/T kids are expected to “just deal with it” if they finish work early. They are not considered to be special needs children. Their creative thinking and out-of-the-box solutions are often suppressed and criticized. Their tendency to jump from one topic to another will get them punished or disciplined. Some G/T kids are very social and love to talk. Since they finish their work early, they simply do not understand why they can’t visit with their schoolmates in their extra time. This doesn’t work very well in the current school system.

In order to save their “special children,” thousands of parents are now opting to homeschool their G/T child. Today’s gifted child will often have additional challenges that make homeschooling a better option. These children are usually called “twice-exceptional (2e).” These are the ones that might be a bit hyper. They may be very sensitive to stimulation of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch. They might be the picky eaters because they can only tolerate certain textures in their food. They may be on the autistic spectrum. They may have a different learning style from our left-brain school system. These 2e children learn fast, but they often have other challenges that make simply teaching them in the public school system a disaster.

By bringing them home, the parent can create a wholesome learning environment where the child can learn in their special learning style. They can avoid the extra stimulation of other kids, sounds, lights, etc., that may set off melt-downs because the child simply does not understand how to handle the overload on their brains. Homeschooling allows the child to explore topics of interest to a deeper level. G/T kids will often start their own businesses while still working on high school. They also tend to be active in volunteer work in the community as they learn to take an active part in our society.

Homeschooling G/T kids can be a challenge, but also a joy as you observe them learning without all the restrictions of public schools. Those who are 2e end up thriving, because they are not hampered by labels and professionals who tell them what they cannot do. Over the coming months, I will be sharing many ideas on how to help your G/T child become the person God intended them to be.

Moore Formula Targets High Achievers

 

Ellen Dana is our guest blog author today.

Since 1983 we have been often asked “shall I hold my child back from learning?” because this child did not adhere to the picture given of a pushed and frustrated 6- or 7-year-old, clearly not able to sit down with books to struggle doing a task his brain could not encompass. Besides, he was not ready to give up his self-imposed Lego building projects. Is the Moore Formula only for the strugglers? It is for all learners! Remember, it is individualized, geared to each kind of learner.

First we must look at academic learning—all those subjects that school educators insist must be taught. We can divide them into two groups: skill subject are mainly reading, writing, math or the “three R’s”. Everything else does not demand acquiring learning skills at many levels for the student to advance to the next level. Nature study, or “science,” for example, can be emphasized and enjoyed by a 3 or 4-year-old, and may begin simply and without stress to 3 or 4-year-olds, swinging in a hammock in his own back yard! Social studies may begin with cultural studies spurred with mission stories at Sabbath School, or the continued story of Kado (used copies available on Amazon) (a great cultural story from India, or Sharna of Rocky Bay who lived a very different cultural lifestle in a fishing village. Both stories possess the added value of questions answered about the mysteries of living for Jesus.)

Moore Formula Learning at the primary level is a developmental journey where the student is not expected to have the 3 R’s pushed on him. The preparation for these subjects may go on all the time even while someone reads aloud to the student. An occasional recorded story can help when parents need a reprieve or an older sibling needs to read easy material with a reason for doing so. If you will think about the various things a true story is teaching and learn to categorize these overall learning values, it will help you view reading aloud to the little child eager to hear one more story, with a more positive attitude. Keep a chart if you must for awhile and practice checking off the various subjects that were taught that day. You might find your children may have learned reading skills (unconsciously? By all those special emphasis words you said with greater force and power) social studies, history, and Bible all in that one book.

Perhaps you and your husband took your children on a special “field trip” on Sunday to a nature preserve—today with the children, you will categorize or sequence the photos taken the day before. This is a great review and recognition of God’s organizing plan, and “test” of the names of the birds or animals seen. To the child it is simply great together time with mom and they are usually enthralled to recognize certain “critters,” again. They might even make a little book of those critters complete with copies of the photos in the right places.

So much for the majority of children who easily fall in the “late blooming” category. Now, What about that little “early reader”, eager beaver child who begins to read despite your desire to teach the Moore Formula way? Let me ask you a question; because he can read, does that mean he should read, and even encouraged to do so as long each day as possible?

Think for a minute; surely you have seen a few eager-beavers scholars in your day complete with their sturdy little glasses! Are the glasses for effect? –to announce that this is the world’s next genius? The Optometric world would have you know that the incidents of near sightedness in young children increased as school-entrance age was lowered–significantly! Why? Because these still-developing youngsters were not limited in using near-vision. Developing eyes need lots of distance vision, one reason active outdoor play is so important for growing bodies.

Let me say it again, education the Moore Formula way is simply common sense and heavenly-inspired learning. All the little children should spend lots of time working closely with mom learning to cooperate in caring for the home, letting him know how important he is as you rely on him to carry out certain tasks, and helping dad with the more manly upkeep of the home.

I know you want him to be a good student; but remember this saying, When you want to teach your child to be a diligent student, teach him to do physical work with all diligence!

Keep reading aloud—to your visually driven child, for even your eager beaver still needs to continue strengthening his auditory learning development, noticing your expression, how you read with commas, questions and period evident, plus hearing the pathos in your voice over touching scenes portrayed. Besides reading of places, other historical times, cultures, people who stood for Jesus and acted on Christian principles, the student who reads well or not at all, will both alike love arts and crafts. Keep that part of your school alive to develop fine motor skills, love of beauty, color and personal expression. Recognize those values and to log them so you really see how you have been having “school.” And know that a good art project is really a “written report,” with as much value as the 250 or 500 word, researched product. If you help them follow the theme of the stories read, so much the better, like building a wigwam when studying Indians, either outdoors or at the table with picked-up sticks, or even the same arrangement to provide a trellis for the climbing beans just planted. Include learning Bible verses, and of hymns. Faithfully lead him to Jesus when the trials overcome this inexperienced, not yet baptized young student. You will help him form habits of thought and feelings, preparing him to live happily within his future earthly home and ultimately heaven’s mansions.

Ellen Dana the Educational Director at Moore Academy. She enjoys helping families around the world to successfully homeschool their children. She strives to carefully and responsibly continue promoting a balanced educational effort with individualized curriculum planning and surveillance of enrolled families’ practice in using the Moore Formula type of education avidly taught by the Moores.