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, August 29, 2011

It's the First Day of School

I got an email from my sister-in-law, asking about the kidlet's new school year. It was the typical questions, "Why did you decide to home school?" and "What grade is he in?" Couple that with the martial arts instructor, who said to me, "Are you teaching him at home? Are you some kind of genius, too?" and you end up with trying to answer unanswerable questions.

The simple answer to "Why did you decide to home school," is this - we had no other choice. The child needs to be intellectually challenged, but also needs to be a kid. You can't put a child like this in a typical classroom and expect that it will all go smoothly - he takes to boredom like I take to grass pollen (it makes bad things happen in our bodies). We've tried it. It wasn't successful and led to even higher anxiety, lower self-esteem, and a more frustrated everyone. We tried a school that did all one-on-one instruction, but ended up paying for extremely expensive child care, since they didn't understand giftedness and the needs of gifted students. One teacher told me she was afraid to frustrate him... um, resilience anyone? 

My answer to the martial arts master was this, "I'm not a genius like HE is, but he's still a child and it is my job to teach him." Much of learning is figuring out how to learn - questions to ask, problem solving, critical thinking. Also, because of the kidlet's asynchrony, there are areas in which he is not as advanced; although his ability to think about those areas is quite advanced - math, for example - you can't just skip over the "easy stuff" because he can think in complex mathematical ways... he still needs to learn all the building blocks so he can do the complex stuff correctly.  

Now the toughie - which grade is he in? No idea. I can tell you for sure that he is NOT in 6th grade -which would be his chronological grade. He had easily passed all the 8th grade requirements by the end of last year, so we're calling this 9th grade. But even that is a misnomer - since the work he is doing is equally from college texts as from high school. We picked 9th because that seems like the lowest common denominator for him. We expect him to complete 9th grade work by the end of Autumn and start into 10th - IF things go as quickly as we think they can. But the beauty of home schooling is that we can go at whatever pace works best - some subjects might go more quickly (I have him going through a full college text on Marine Biology in one month, as we prepare for a group trip through Johns Hopkins CTY to the aquarium at Newport, Oregon for a weekend class - but don't let that fool you, he's been "studying" marine biology on his own for years). 

Another nice thing about home schooling is that you can really tailor learning without being stuck on someone else's idea of flow. This year, I decided to mold everything to World History (that being a key element in 9th grade). So, we are taking things era by era, and most of his assignments will be linked to whichever era we are studying. For example, we start off with the earliest beginnings of the world - he will read from two different history texts about pre-history and ancient cultures, will study the geography of the middle-east then and now, is reading some ancient myths about creation and flood - as well as a book on the Big Bang theory, learning about scientific advancements in the ancient world (hello Aristotle!). For those subjects that don't fit into the plan - we'll work our way through anyway. It's not a perfect system, but I think it will work well to put everything in perspective - since no learning is in isolation, may as well make as much as possible work together. 

Who knows what this year will bring... but at least I can be sure that my child will continue to learn, will have opportunities to explore his world, and can find that spark within himself again. It has been so hard seeing his interest in learning fade - that excitement about school turned inside out into angst, boredom, and frustration. I don't know if we can turn that around in one year, but I'm going to try.

Learning is fun! School is fun! I think we'll go to the fair later this week to celebrate. :) 


  1. Yay! The start of homeschooling year! Those questions are hard, but I think they come from a place of trying to understand. We understand! We've been there/going through this too! We are working on Yr 11/12 science for my Yr 5/6 kids. But we still struggle with writing (sooo much going on in those brains!).

    Oooh - just spotted my blog over there on the side bar :-) Ta very muchly!

  2. Keep up the good work! Homeschooling isn't always easy but it is always worth it.

  3. I am utterly confident that you will do a good job, and that kidlet is in much safer hands in homeschooling environment.. your journey will be a fantastic adventure..

  4. I can so relate. We, too, started homeschool for the same reasons. Now I love it for many other reasons, like the closeness it has fostered in our family.

    (You might check out Khan Academy online for your son. You can find it on YouTube. It's free and not some program to follow, but short video snippets to help with all concepts math in a very non-judgmental way. He might like them.)

    Thanks for taking the time to do what's best for your child. There will be one more happy boy in the world!