Homeschooling the G/T Child, Pt. 3, Finding Support

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Parenting is never an easy task. When you add some type of special challenge to the mix, whatever side of the spectrum, it adds to the challenge. In today’s world, there are many free resources for children with challenges who may fall on the lower side of the spectrum. These children may be labeled “learning disabled” or “special needs.” There are countless organizations that will help you learn how to advocate for your child, how to find special resources to meet their needs, and provide plenty of support in respite care and parent meetings.

However, when the child is on the other end of the spectrum, the support dries up. I’ve experienced it myself and seen this with my daughter dealing with her own gifted/talented (G/T) child. If you talk about your five-year-old child reading at seventh-grade level, people will look at you like you’re bragging. If you mention your child learning how to do some physical feat months ahead of time, then you get that glare, like how dare you. Somehow over time being G/T has become a dirty word.

All children need to be celebrated at whatever level they are performing at, whether they meet developmental milestones a year behind what is considered normal, or advance in grade level faster than the typical child. Yet, many people today do not wish to hear of the accomplishments of the G/T child. They don’t want to hear Johnny in third grade is tutoring some high school students in calculus, because somehow it will diminish what their child is doing.

I want to validate the parents out there who get frustrated from being unable to share the various accomplishments of their G/T child because of people thinking you are bragging. It’s good to share a child’s accomplishments.

I would like to provide some resources on where you can find other parents who may be experiencing the same thing. The first place I would check would be your local community. If you live in a city of any size, there may be some parent support groups. The school would be a good place to find out about support groups for parents of G/T kids. Unfortunately, there are not that many out there in our communities. However, the internet abounds with various online groups. Below are two links that will give you a place to start.

http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/50-resources-for-the-parents-and-teachers-of-gifted-and-talented-students/

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/parents.htm [Wonderful source of daily articles concerning G/T kids, especially those who are “2e.”]

With homeschooling, there are various Facebook pages that will offer support for parents no matter what their child’s issues are. One example is the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Another is the Gifted Homeschool Forum.

Whatever group you find, do not be ashamed to share about your child’s accomplishments. You are not bragging as much as celebrating a new milestone, no matter the age it was accomplished at.

Remember when you hear of another parent sharing their child’s accomplishments, be sure to give your own support. It’s the only way to change the way society thinks regarding giftedness as a dirty word.

What Does a Real Homeschooler Look Like Anyway?

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Musings of a Retired Home School Mom

In my little rural corner of the world in the mid to late 1980s homeschoolers were few and far between. They were actually so few and far between that I didn’t know of one single person in my whole county that was doing it. The homeschooling magazine that I subscribed was my only connection to the world of homeschooling. It always featured a photo on their cover of a homeschooling family, along with an article inside describing the family and their homeschool.

The families were always large, sometimes quite large. (Was having 6, 8, or even 10 kids a prerequisite for homeschooling?) The women in the families always wore their hair long, wore dresses, and all of their dresses usually matched. (Interestingly, when I was getting ready to write this blog I did an internet search to see if the magazine was still in existence. Believe it or not, the cover family on the current issue looks exactly the same as those from back in the day.)  The description of their families and their homeschools seemed very patriarchal; not at all like the more relaxed, cooperative relationship that my husband I had with one another, or the descriptions of homeschooling that I had read about in Dr. Moore’s books. Was this what homeschoolers all looked like? I didn’t know, because I had never met one before.

It wasn’t long before I had the chance. At the time we lived in a small, rural town with a population of 238. I heard through the grapevine that a homeschooling family had moved to a rental house just a couple of miles out of town. I decided to pay them a visit, introduce myself and see what I could learn from a real, live homeschooler. When I got there, the family was exactly like all of the ones I had read about. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I asked her to show me how they did homeschool.

She got out some workbooks that were just printed in black and white. There were no colored pictures at all. She showed me some charts that they used to check off when they had finished a lesson or project and that was it. I felt kind of let down. This wasn’t at all what I thought homeschooling would be like. How was I ever going to know how to do this?

The family soon moved away, and we began homeschooling and forged our own way. We didn’t look or act like the families on the glossy cover of the homeschooling magazine. We fumbled a few times, but recovered and carried on. And surprisingly over the next few years I would hear about one homeschooling family, and then another, and another. After several years there were enough of us to get together and meet as a group.  None of us looked alike. There were large families and small families. There were women that only wore dresses, and women that never wore a dress. There were families that were borderline unschoolers and families that mostly did “school at home.” There were Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, a Seventh-day Adventist, and more. We all got along and respected our differences. Our common ground was homeschooling.

During this same time I was active in moderating an e-mail list for Seventh-day Adventists.  I went into the job thinking that all  Adventists dressed, worshiped, thought and acted the same way. When I stepped down from that position over a decade later, I realized that there was just as much diversity among Adventists as there was in our local group. The biggest difference between the two groups was the diversity among the Adventist group caused controversy and conflict. For some reason we couldn’t seem to accept our differences and support anyone that didn’t fit into our picture of we thought  an Adventist should look like.

I am thankful for that experience. It opened my eyes and helped me to become a more balanced and accepting person. I realized that even though you and I might not agree on what version of the Bible to use, whether it’s okay to wear jewelry or not, whether we should only wear dresses, eat meat or be vegan, attend a celebration church with a praise band or only sing hymns, we all are homeschooling because we want to do the very best for our children. That’s the bottom line! I pray that someday we will all be able to get together for a big Adventist homeschoolers’ reunion under the Tree of Life, no matter what our differences here on earth might have been; and that all of our children will be there with us because we did the very best that we could for them while we were here on earth.