A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's been a weird week (or, Asynchrony, part II: The Summer From... well, you know)

We started homeschooling in May. 2011. Yes, we are newbies. It was a tough decision - mostly because I've always said I couldn't homeschool the kidlet because we would end up killing each other. But clearly school was not working for him. Even the uber-specialized private school he was going to couldn't keep up with him. We visited a lot of other (private) schools. A lot. I think my husband used up all of his vacation time, hour by hour, just doing site visits and parent interviews. But in the end, we decided to homeschool. Because differentiation is where it's at.

Of the myriad of schools we looked at, only two were - rather nervously - willing to attempt to educate a child they both knew would never "fit" with their student body and would outpace their academic programs within his first year. Most of the schools we visited were forthright with us - telling us outright that they couldn't support his intellect. One school said they were looking for "leadership" qualities the kidlet clearly does not have (one has to acknowledge the presence of others in order to lead them - key feature in leadership, I figure, so I couldn't argue with the school's rationale; regardless of whether I think "leadership" is a quality that an 11 year old boy needs).

So we started homeschooling. We took a day at the homeschool store and picked out our books - deciding which subjects to study as we stood there, guessing at which grade level to choose, and dazed at the plethora of options. We brought our books home, and I looked through and made up a list of assignments for the coming week. On Monday - our first day of our new school - the kidlet took out his pen (he won't use a pencil because of the way it sounds and feels as it scratches across paper) and his weekly schedule that I made for him, and he decided how he was going to attack his work. He read, and I (verbally) assessed how well he understood the information. He finished 7th grade life science in one month - and learned nothing. I knew we'd have to up the ante a bit. This is a voracious learner.

After much discussion between our school's lead teacher (me) and our key assessment specialist (daddy), we decided to skip a couple grades. Three, to be exact - we will start 9th grade. For our baseline. However, we know that he will progress through math extremely fast (but we can't skip much because it all builds upon itself - conceptually he is as amazing at math as he is in science, but he needs to cover the building blocks, and he will hate every minute of it), and science will require a higher level - if we can't find a college class to take, we'll do an online course from MIT (did you know they offer free online courses? SWEET!). His writing skills need a lot of work, but today I flipped through the English grammar and composition books, and picked up one for 12th grade - because the others seemed far too simplistic, but I figured we needed something. Even if it takes us two years to get through - he'll still be ahead of the game. I did get 9th grade geography and world history books - figuring we'll do them in concert, and pick up US history, then civics and economics as we finish.

You're probably wondering by now why I titled this, "It's been a weird week." I'm getting there, if somewhat in a roundabout way. We did all this work and it was going great - kidlet was excited, cooperative, and seemed to be maturing right in front of my eyes. Then we stopped for summer. BAD idea. Really, really bad. Summer has not been fun. The camps he's been to have been disappointing - I could see it in his eyes when I picked him up on day one of rocket camp. "What did you learn?" "Nothing. We talked about Newton's Third Law." Sadness. And he almost got kicked out later in the week because, in this little asynchronous child, the disappointment translated to anxiety translated to anger translated to the Terrible Twos. And the disappointment, anxiety, and anger have continued - uncharacteristically, even at home. I got sat down by the kidlet's counselor and told what I already knew - "he's bored - he needs to learn." That's why I was at the homeschool store again this week - picking up books for our summer lessons. Yeah, we're going back to school so we can make it to Back to School.

It's been a weird week. I'm making plans to start him in high school and get a phone call from the weekend sleep-away camp the kidlet is attending, saying he's horribly homesick. He was so sad, he couldn't even eat s'mores. (S'MORES!! Chocolate, graham crackers, and toasted marshmallow! That's where I GO when I'm sad!) We talked with him on the phone and he perked up a bit - and downed two s'mores the last night of camp. But I digress. This is a roller coaster we are on - trying to balance the needs of such an amazing, adult brain, at the same time we're trying to support emotional growth and maturity in a little child. I think I've got whiplash. I can't even imagine how it feels to him.


  1. Interesting that kidlet is sensitive to pencil writing...my DS10 can't stand the feel of erasing with pencil. Just found this out recently after asking why he scratches stuff out and doesn't erase. If it was up to me, I'd have DS go to school all year with just more breaks like they do in the UK/Europe. Summer break is just too long and I can't afford to ship him off to camps which are designed for gifted children. I hope things improve for your family and know that you are not alone in this asynchronous roller coaster.

  2. Wow, so happy to have found your blog! I'm planning to keep my six year old home this year, and I can see a lot of these issues being relevant for us. We're doing algebra right now, but also dealing with the "terrible twos!" That line in your post was brilliant! OMG, and the boredom, oh, goodness, the boredom... it's the absolute worst torture my son (and therefore I) can imagine. Boredom turns him into a two year old instantly. I can't wait to read more!

  3. Oh wow. So know how you feel. We are having winter holidays here and thank goodness for the Wii! But as I sit here, DS11 is giggling away at the Life of Fred book I left "lying around" hoping a kid would pick it up. My DS hates writing too and would be bored by Newton's 3rd law too (even though it leaves most Grade 10 kids perplexed). Nearly all of our school days have some form of tears from one or either child (thankfully usually not at the same time). It's a rollercoaster alright! Glad we are able to share though :-)