College versus Kindergarten and Radical Acceleration

When Madison started community college I had a fear she wouldn’t like it. I knew it was the right choice, but I was still concerned. She hated Kindergarten and First grade. When she started homeschooling in Second grade we did a lot of hands on learning through field trips and travel. Up until two years ago, she really focused on what interested her. We skipped a lot of what she didn’t care about.

So, will a child that had all of that freedom be able to go from a fun and unstructured learning environment be able to go to sitting in a 90 minute lecture setting twice and week? Learning by reading out of a textbook again? (It’s been 5 years since she’s had to do that.) And the hands on learning is now projects that are papers and presentations? Will she be able to handle taking tests? She’s never really had one in an academic setting.

Fortunately the answer is yes. πŸ™Œ

Not only is she getting A’s on her tests and projects, she’s loving the class. And this class is a requirement. It’s not that much fun. It’s basically learning how to be a college student.

So how can she adapt so well? I pondered that very question. Then while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I saw a post about how homework in elementary school should be banned. And it hit me.

In elementary she had homework. She had homework in kindergarten. Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and just write NO on all of those worksheets. Madison hated them. Not only did she not get much time to play in kinder, she couldn’t when she got home because she had worksheets to do. It made both of us want to scream. It was insane. First grade didn’t have as much homework, but the amount of worksheets done in school was insane.

This picture doesn’t even really show the volume very well.

She hated school because of these worksheets. They were boring and mundane. They ripped the love of learning out, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it in the trash can.

Madison loves her college professor. Thank goodness!!! She looks forward to each class. The only homework she has is reading the textbook, 3 projects, and studying for 4 tests. There isn’t any mundane work or fluff. She actually enjoys it because of that.

And the biggest reason she’s thriving in a college setting versus public school at her chronological age?

She’s not being taught to a test.

What she’s learning has meaning.

She doesn’t have to do a bunch of repetitious fluff.

I am glad we took the route we did. If I had to do it all over again the only difference would be not sending her to public school to begin with. Or to pull her when we both had the gut feeling this wasn’t a good thing and not caring what anyone else thought.

Madison has poured hours into her projects. She received a 95% on her first one and learned from that and received 100% on the second. She received a 95% on her first test and we’ll see what she gets on the next one.

If you would have told me that she could be where she is and doing what she’s doing by learning hands on without tests and basically focusing on what she wanted to learn, I would have thought you were crazy.

I thought others that told me this was an actual thing were crazy. LOL

I questioned myself and woke up in hot sweats the first couple of years in total fear I was going to ruin her education.

I spent countless hours trying to mix things up for her so she wouldn’t get bored.

I spent a lot of money on curriculum that she never used because she jumped past it. She already knew it.

I would freak out when she seemed to be at a standstill and wasn’t progressing. I would think OMG we need to work harder and do more. She’d push back. And then bam, she’d make another jump and everything became obsolete.

Homeschooling Madison was actually a surreal experience. I wish I would have recorded her standstill and jumps better. I couldn’t ever really pinpoint them. I just knew when they happened shortly after they did.

We had to push through a lot of anxiety along the way as well. We had to put her out of her comfort zone in regard to time. She doesn’t do anything very quickly and did not work well with deadlines. But she has managed to figure out how to deal with both of those. I think it’s taken a lot of communication to teach her how to prioritize, how to work ahead to ensure she can spend the amount of time she would like on things. This year she’s learning how to push through doing things she isn’t really interested in with some other classes because they are required for her high school transcript.

I am glad I researched, kept an open mind and didn’t look at everything as black and white, trusted God, Madison and myself. And most of all for being flexible. Having to adjust constantly. I am a planner and I think that was the hardest part of this entire journey. Being flexible and readjusting. I look back on my posts and every single one of them was this is what we are doing….and it changed a lot. Sometimes with each post. I tried saying, this is what we are going to be doing…..and it rarely ended up being what I thought it would be. We both grew a lot during this process.

So college has ended up being a much better experience than kindergarten. If we had gone through the public education system at a normal rate it wouldn’t have been. Madison would have been completely burnt out. The love of learning would have been completely sucked out of her.

And she has found friends. They are nowhere near her age, but that doesn’t matter. I am so, so grateful that she has friends in her class that do not judge her and like to talk to her. Her face lights up when she talks about it and when she is talking with them. This makes my mom heart so full.

Kudos to radical acceleration!

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Resources For Gifted Children

Having a gifted child can be overwhelming and exciting at the same. That’s putting it mildly. I have found on our journey that knowledge is not just power, but a matter of survival.

Here are the resources that have helped us the most along the way and continue to now. They are not in any particular order. If anything they are the order in which we discovered them.

Hoagies Gifted is my go to for everything. They have a search button that searches their site. So if you have a question about anything you can just search it. They also have a page with psychologists that are familiar with giftedness that conduct testing. This is where we found the psychologist that tested Madison and I feel it makes a night and day difference. They also have a blog hop that is worth reading. They have new topics each month.

Mensa was another great resource for Madison because our local chapter has an active youth group. I’d suggest inquiring about local Mensa youth groups within the chapter to see if they are active and if they are, then join. Madison has had many unique and special experiences with our group since she was six years old. She has gone to our local planetarium, art museum, hiking, painting pottery, built robots, performed community service, and has gone on two Young Eagle flights where she took the controls for a bit.

Duke Tip has also been a big part of our journey. They have a lot to offer and Madison loves their local Educational programs and online contests. You can also take the PSAT, ACT, and SAT much earlier than you normally would. This has proven to be very beneficial for my oldest and I am sure it will be for Madison as well. The results from Madison taking the ACT is also the only way at this point that I know where she’s at academically. Go to the eligibility section to see the qualified test scores. There is a link for homeschoolers to follow. If your child is in school don’t wait for someone to contact you. You can submit your child’s scores yourself. My oldest was in Duke Tip since she was 12 and my youngest has been in it since she was 7. Being a part of Duke Tip opens educational opportunities and adds to a college resume.

Davidson Young Scholars has been one of the best things Madison has ever been involved in. It has been the Godsend she needed and has really made a difference not only educationally, but socially was well.

The other organization that has made a big impact in Madison’s life is Texas Parents of the Profoundly Gifted.

There were those who had older gifted children that gave me much needed advice. I learned so much from them and they really gave me the confidence I needed during our journey. Here are the ones who have made a major impact on our journey:

Crushing Tall Poppies

Supporting Gifted Learners

Jade Ann Rivera

Gifted Challenges

When we started homeschooling I found Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. They are a MUST to check out even if you don’t homeschool. They cover a wide variety of information for gifted children and 2e (twice exceptional) children.

My other go to and this is especially helpful for teachers and for parents of gifted children in school is #gtchat on Twitter. They have weekly discussions with invaluable information. If you are not familiar with Twitter they also have a blog where they post the chats and links.

A couple of the blogs that also helped me were:

My Little Poppies

and

Raising Lifelong Learners

The other helpful sites to learn more about gifted children are:

The National Association for Gifted Children

SENG

Institute for Educational Advancement

A Childhood of a Profoundly Gifted Child

I have been doing a lot of reflecting. Reflecting on Madison’s childhood. I asked her the other day if her college class was just like she thought it would be or if it disappointed her. She said it was everything she thought it would be. I then asked her if there was anything she wanted to do that she wished she could do. I didn’t want her to feel like she was missing out in any way.

She was surprised at my comment and responded, “I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.”

I do realize that you don’t know what you’ve missed out on if you don’t know what there is to miss out. But what I do know is as Madison has gotten older she knows more of what she does want.

This brings up the hard concept to explain to others when they believe that kids should be kids and they should have a childhood to be happy and healthy. And I 100% believe that too. Unless you have a profoundly gifted child. Their definition of a happy childhood is different. Very different. They love learning. It isn’t a chore, it’s who they are. It’s the root of their being. If they aren’t learning, they are not happy. The definition of what makes one child happy is not the same as what makes a PG child happy. It isn’t taking away their childhood. If you take learning away from them and force them to do meaningless things or have meaningless conversations or do mundane repetitious things, it sucks the life out of them.

Madison needed to move at her pace and when she did that she had extra time to be creative. She loves the outdoors. She loves mud. Especially clay mud that she can mold into different things. She spends hours outside.

I knew very early on that Madison would grow up too quickly. I knew that the ‘magic’ would be shorter for her than other kids. I wanted her to be able to embrace it and remember that forever. So we went to Disney World. A lot.

And she experienced a lot of magic that she will always remember. I do not regret a single trip. I am very grateful we went as many times as we did. Those made up for the things I felt she ‘missed’ along the way. We did incorporate learning when we visited when she was older like reading the Swiss Family Robinson and then going on the Swiss Tree House or reading Huckleberry Finn and going on Tom Sawyer Island.

We also went to Colorado. Here she saw the beauty of the mountains. And was able to ride a horse through the Garden of the Gods and became a Garden if the God’s Junior Park Ranger.

We went to Sanibel Island where she was able to experience the beach. She also learned about oceans and sea life before we went. So much so that she educated those around her on our boat tour of what an estuary was as well as identifying the life that were in the shells that were found on the excision. She really loved talking with the adults on that trip.

She learned about Texas History in Austin and US History in DC.

She has taken the controls of a private airplane for a short period of time twice.

She participated in plays, homeschool classes at museums, and found her tribe at Summit and Stars.

We had many side trips along the way. She loved chess and speech.

I don’t feel like she’s missed out on any way because of the things we did that she loved. They were all magical to her. They made up for experiences she missed out on if she were in school.

One thing that I love is that Madison still loves swinging. She also loves creating with mud in the backyard. Even though she’s at a college level intellectually, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t still enjoy some kids things. There are many kid things she did not enjoy. And that’s ok. Sometimes she didn’t mesh with kids her own age.

It’s funny, the other day I said, Madison why don’t you like ‘x’ activity? One we require her to attend. She said, because of the kids. I said, well you have to learn to get along with others that are not like you. Her response?

I’ll deal with them just fine when they are adults.

πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

She can communicate and gets along with adults much better than children her own age.

If you have a gifted child do your best to make the most of the magic while they still believe.

Enjoy what makes them happy as they grow even if it isn’t the same thing that their peers are doing.

And find what makes them smile.

Madison’s college class is going very well and she loves it. She wants to go full time next year. It’s everything she hoped it would be and wants to join the honors program.

She also loves playing the piano, writing, and creating things from the nature around her.

At the end of the day all that matters is what makes a child happy. What that means for one doesn’t always mean it’s the same for another.

β€οΈπŸ’•β€οΈπŸ’•β€οΈπŸ’•

Reflections of Homeschooling a Profoundly Gifted Child

As we begin a new year, I have reflected over the past four in regards to homeschooling. When we decided homeschooling was Madison’s best option, and by we, I mean Madison, Jeff and I, it was because she was bored to tears in school. I gave her the choice to be in charge of her education. Everyone thought I was crazy. Everyone. Except Jeff, Madison, and Alyssa. πŸ™‚ I was told “How can you teach her when you don’t even have a degree?” I’ll never forget that one. What I knew that no one else realized, was I wasn’t going to teach her. I was going to provide her the tools she needed to learn. And how did I know this? Madison told me. πŸ™‚ It takes a lot of trust in a 7-year-old and God.

I feel like at this point I am near the end of my journey. Madison set goals when she was 7, and this year she has achieved a couple of them, starting college and taking the ACT by the age of 12. She was accepted into community college and will begin her class next week. She is also set to take the ACT in February. Well, she actually obtained those two goals earlier than she thought she would at age 11. I had told Jeff and my father that she was on track to hit those at 12 and I know even though they were very supportive they thought I was a little off. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Until she passed the entrance tests with flying colors and enrolled a year earlier than she expected.

I know her education path has been very different from most. She enjoyed learning at home until we got to the point where she was bored and we knew it was time to take the next step. There have been times where it has been hard for both of us. It wasn’t always a walk in the park but, for the most part, it was fun, and most importantly Madison is happy.

In the beginning of our journey I really cared what others thought. What got me through was telling myself, time will tell. Don’t worry about anyone else, because in the end, time will tell.

Now we are at the point where time has told. What’s funny is, I thought when I got to this point, I would feel like “HA! I told you so.”. Or “See, I’m not crazy!”. But I don’t feel any of those things. I’m just happy, because Madison is happy. I am SO grateful I didn’t listen to the naysayers and I realized how blessed I am to have the support from those who believed in us. Both the ones that got it and the ones who didn’t, but didn’t judge. ❀️❀️❀️

Madison has always had this unwavering sense of confidence when it has come to her education. Maybe it’s the innocence and naiveness of her age, but I am baffled by it and am in awe of it at the same time. It has really inspired me. She doesn’t care what others think. It honestly doesn’t matter to her. And she doesn’t see any obstacles in the path she wants to achieve.

The eye-opening moment to this was when we approached the college counsellors for her to enroll in dual credit. I knew she was at college level without a doubt and I knew she wasn’t about to do high school and then college. She needed to do both at the same time. So, when we met with the counsellors, the first thing we heard at the beginning of the meeting was, “no way, absolutely not”. This was in regard to her enrolling. I remained calm, but was freaking out on the inside. I worked on opening up that this was what she needed and the focus went to her. She was honest, and herself, and that did it. It was obvious to all in that meeting that she was the driving force of her education. I volunteered to have her take the college entrance exams which usually aren’t required for dual credit, but I knew since she hadn’t taken the ACT or SAT yet that they would need some validation that she was college ready. After the meeting I was so happy it ended with the outcome Madison had been working so hard for. I expressed to her how close we were to not having it happen and how worried I was. She responded to me with amazement, “Really? I didn’t catch that at all. Being told no was never even an option for me.” And again, all I could do was smile and shake my head, just as I have done every step of the way through this journey.

So again, as I reflect, I am blown away at how Madison has achieved what she has set out to achieve. I have learned not to care what anyone thinks. Honestly, their opinions or thoughts really don’t matter. And throughout this process we have learned who genuinely cares about Madison and I as people, and who doesn’t. That used to hurt me and make me angry, but now it doesn’t. I’ve accepted it and it’s a much better place to be. Along the way there have been the few who have always been positive and happy for Madison and I have expressed to some, how grateful I am. There are still some I need to thank. These few supporters make such a positive impact that it drowns out the many that have been negative.

I do not know what the future holds for Madison, but as long as she is happy with what she’s doing, I’m happy. β€οΈπŸ’•

And for anyone that asks “Why?”, “Why would she go to college now?”, she responds with, why not? πŸ˜‰

Intrinsic Motivation

I could shout this article to the rooftops. It’s such a great read, I felt the need to share it.

https://freespiritpublishingblog.com/2018/11/12/8-ideas-for-building-intrinsic-motivation-to-learn-in-students/

Our Incredible Journey of Giftedness

One of these days I am going to go back and read all of the posts I’ve written on this blog. I am so grateful I wrote them so Madison and I can go back at any time and read the wonderful times and the challenging times. She often checks the blog to read these posts. I am hoping to have her start writing some posts that will share her perspective. She articulates this journey much better than I do because it is directed by her. I plan to turn this into a book for her as a type of ‘yearbook.’

The point we are at in her journey now is because of where it started. The backstory is important. Madison was frustrated in public school in First Grade. It was more than just frustration, it turned into depression. The slowest student in the class dictated the speed for the entire class. It just happened that this student came to the school in First Grade not even knowing their letter sounds. Madison’s teacher didn’t understand her. Anyway after testing through the school and then by a psychologist and not making any progress advocating, I decided to homeschool Madison the following year with the intention of sending her to a private school when a spot opened. The spot opened during that year for the next year and she made the decision to continue to homeschool instead.

At that point I told her that we could go slow (meaning stay at grade level) and she could have all the time in the world to do whatever she wanted to do or we could go full speed ahead and she could go to college early and choose whatever degrees she wanted. Her choice at 7 years old was to go full speed ahead.

Why did I give her this choice? I did a major amount of research and followed the parents on Facebook who had pulled their gifted children to homeschool as well and shared their journeys. I read articles on what can happen if you try to make a gifted child fit into a box. I read how they are more prone to drugs, suicide, criminal activity, depression….They know they are different and sometimes don’t really fit in and that takes a toll. When Madison was in First Grade two Gifted and Talented high school students commuter suicide. There were a lot of factors that determined our decisions and none of them were for her to be a ‘super star.’ Each gifted child is different and we made our decisions based on what was best for Madison and what she wanted. Becoming educated on gifted children is key when making decisions. This was and still is one of the main blogs I referred to and it helped me in so many, many ways. Crushing Tall Poppies

Was having a child who flew through grade levels fun? Yes, at times it was really cool. Other times I stayed awake freaking out and some nights I woke up in a full sweat worrying if I was doing the right thing. Madison reassured me the entire way. lol. Looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Ok, there is one thing. I wouldn’t have bought curriculum for the future. πŸ™„ We didn’t use a lot of what I bought in comparison to what she used.

So as of right now I am glad we chose to radically accelerate and so is Madison. I had to do an enormous amount of trusting my gut and her when she said she knew something and wasn’t going to do it again. She didn’t want to diagram sentences. She didn’t want to do worksheets of any sort. She wouldn’t use anything that resembled a textbook.

Later. Later is realizing you think the online classes she is taking are great, but not enough anymore. It’s when your gut tells you that she needs to be out of the house and back into a classroom and that 5 years is enough. And you know the only way she’ll be content is at a college taking dual credit courses.

This thought came pretty suddenly about a month ago. So I showed Madison the core classes and asked if this was what she wanted to do. She was kind of shocked because she’s scheduled to take the ACT this upcoming February and her thought was to possibly start college classes the following school year. Her original goal when she was 7 was to take the ACT when she was 12. And we though that was a reach then.

During this journey she has had so many wonderful experiences and each had its ‘season.’

She took the TSI (college placement test for Texas) and ended up being very college ready for Reading and English. She missed being college ready for Math by 3 points. This told me I made the right decision and at the right time. I do not think she would have been ready last year even if she would have passed.

Next week Madison will register for one class for the Spring Semester. She will also continue her current online classes. She is really excited.

Is radical acceleration for everyone? Nope. But if you have a PG child that loves to learn and wants to experience many things then I think it is. She is not trying to fast track to an Ivy League school. Maybe she’d like to go to one down the road, but she’s not leaving until she’s 18 as far as I’m concerned right now. Right now she wants to learn at a higher level in a classroom setting and this is the only way she can. We are taking things one step at a time and figuring them out as we go.

I know many people think radical acceleration is not the way to go for any child. They are also the same people that think kids need to be socialized like dogs. πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Anyway, my next post will be addressing that because we really haven’t.

Madison’s Gifted Educational Jumps

During the time I have homeschooled Madison I have noticed that she makes major educational jumps. They are hard to explain. When she learns things she ‘jumps’ five times ahead of what she’s learned. They aren’t just jumps, they’re big jumps. I’ve had to forgo using a lot of curriculum that I had already bought due to these jumps. She was already past what I had planned.

At the beginning of this October I realized I didn’t have what she needed for next year. I have curriculum and she could have taken more online classes, but it’s not what she needed. She needed to take college courses. She’s already bored this year because she jumped. There were many indicators that helped me realize this. She isn’t scheduled to take the ACT until February, so I needed her to take the TSI (it’s a Texas College placement exam.)

Along this journey, I have learned to listen to my intuition and I’m glad I did and continue to do so. This week Madison took the TSI and my gut was right. She is ready to take college classes. For reading she scored 378. 390 is a perfect score and 350 is needed to pass. She scored the exact same on the multiple choice English test and got a 7 out of 8 on the essay section. You need a score of 4 or 5 to pass. Passing means college ready. She will be taking the Math test tomorrow. We know her score on that won’t even be remotely close to her Reading/English scores, but that’s ok. She’s more than college ready for courses that do not involve Math or Science that requires a certain level of Math.

So I will be writing upcoming posts on dual credit/college enrollment, radical acceleration, and Madison’s new journey. She will be enrolling in one class for this Spring semester along with her current year-long online courses at home and she couldn’t be anymore excited. She’s been looking forward to being back in a classroom and she knew this was the only way she could.

❀️❀️❀️❀️

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