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 a 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. 🙌

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 then 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!

“How?”

One question Madison and I get asked a lot in regard to her radical acceleration is “how?” And it’s not an easy question to answer.

When she was younger and she would talk like an adult with an expansive vocabulary it was easier to explain by simply saying, “She thinks differently and reads a lot.”

The question has come up a lot more recently. When she was accepted to TCU we knew we were going to have to move to be closer. So all of our neighbors or anyone for that matter would ask us why we moved from a very nice suburb to Fort Worth. It didn’t make sense. So I would have to explain that we needed to move closer because I had to drive Madison to school since she’s not of driving age. Or when the Optometrist asks what grade are you in?

The reactions are usually the same. First confusion, then disbelief, then the question “How?”

We usually start off by explaining that she was homeschooled. But that doesn’t really explain it in itself. It allowed her to move at the pace she did. And yes, a lot of homeschoolers graduate with an Associate’s Degree along with their High School Diploma and some with a 4.0 and two levels of Honors, just not at the age of 13.

So then we get to the difficult/uncomfortable part. Then comes the Doogie Howser and Sheldon references. Depending on who it is I’m talking to and the amount of time I have I’ll sometimes just laugh and say yeah and move on. Madison doesn’t get those references when telling peers, they just flat out don’t believe her. When she’s either had someone vouch for her or she’s shown them her state ID the reference of genius comes up. As it does for me after the references to TV show characters.

This makes both of us uncomfortable. I’ve always made it a point to tell her she’s not a genius. We can joke about that. To me you are only a genius if you do something phenomenal that goes down in history. Someone isn’t just a genius. It has to be earned.

This is when I have to explain that she loves to learn. She engulfs learning like a sham wow absorbs water. lol

She also can master concepts and remember information after hearing or reading it once whereas it usually takes others on average 2-3 times. And she retains it forever. So I explain she has a great memory as well.

We usually try to keep her age to ourselves. She looks older than she is so it makes it easier for her. The only time I will outright say anything is if I hear someone bragging about their IQ. This is usually online. Nothing bothers me more. It’a just a number. Madison will never know what her IQ is unless she tests herself as an adult and that’s her choice. It’s also my choice not to tell her. Her psychologist that tested her made it very clear that it would be detrimental for her know and I agree 100%. I’ve always told Madison a number doesn’t mean anything, it’s what you do in life that does.

Madison is self-driven. She always has and always will be. She has made the decision in each step of her academic career.

So I hope this explains a little bit about the “How.” The next question I get is “Why.” But I’ll save that for another blog post. 🙂

Maui Day 3 – May 2019

On our 3rd day in Maui we went on a tour of the Road to Hanna. I decided that it would be best if we went with a tour for a couple of reasons. One being that the road is very narrow and twisty and I have an ADHD husband that would want to be looking out the window more than looking straight ahead and you can’t take rental car on the back road part. The tour solved both of these issues.

The tour was amazing and we made several stops.

One of the stops was at Haleakala National Park. I did some research ahead of time and found out they had a Junior Ranger Program. So Madison was able to swear in and receive her badge. The Junior Ranger programs are one the best ways to learn hands on in my opinion.

It was a long day, but a gorgeous tour and we learned a lot along the way!

Maui Day 1 & 2 – May 2019

Hawaii has always been on Jeff’s bucket list, so when Southwest Airlines announced it would be flying to Maui and American Airlines matched the incredible, once in a lifetime airfares, Jeff booked the tickets immediately.

We landed in Maui on the 20th and headed straight for our hotel. It had been a VERY long direct flight.

We stayed at a condominium complex called Mahina Surf in Lahaina. It was a beautiful place and we enjoyed the view from our condo. Unfortunately it did not have air conditioning, so it was pretty hot and stuffy. Especially in the upper loft.

View from our condo
First sunset

On Day 2 we enjoyed snorkeling, seeing the Bayan tree and eating at Kimo’s.

We started out the day snorkling just off Kaanapali Beach at Black Rock, Maui.

We enjoyed seeing the fish and even swimming with the sea turtles!

Then we went to see the Banyan tree.

“The banyan tree in Lahaina, in Maui, Hawaii, United States, was planted on April 24, 1873, in Lahaina to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of first American Protestant mission. The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) known in Hawaiian as paniana, located in the Courthouse Square, which was renamed Banyan Tree Park covering 1.94 acres, is not only the largest in the state but also in the United States. The tree was a gift from missionaries in India. A mere 8 feet (2.4 m) when planted, it has grown to a height of about 60 feet (18 m) and has rooted into 16 major trunks, apart from the main trunk, with the canopy spread over an area of about 0.66 acres (0.27 ha),” according to Wikipedia.

We also enjoyed Hula Pie at Kimo’s for dessert. You can’t skip it; it’s pretty darn special. To learn more about it click HERE.

It was fun to watch the sea turtles on the beach at the condo and another sunset.

Going back to 2019

I am going to start a series of blog posts where I left off in 2019. Madison had just finished up her Learning Framework course, and I knew that she was planning on taking a full load of courses for each semester going forward and so if we were going to travel, now would be the time. I always included learning in our travels as I believe learning hands-on is Madison’s best kind of learning.

So we’ll start out going back to May 2019 when we traveled to Maui and Kauai. Stay tuned.

The Next Chapter

Madison was accepted to TCU and the John V. Roach Honors College. She obtained a four year scholarship. She is double majoring in Writing and Psychology. Go Frogs!

Graduation

Last May, at the age of 13, Madison graduated with Summa Cum Laude, Phi Theta Kappa, and Honors Program achievements. Along with her Associate of Arts Degree. Then we graduated her from High School. ❤️💕

The Past Year and a Half

I haven’t written many blogs posts in the past year and half. 2020 was hard as it was so many and so I didn’t want to write posts that I would reflect on later as being negative. I needed to ride it out and take some time to reflect.

Now that I have done that I see we actually had a pretty good year despite what happened. And that was due to us traveling and creating those memories.

Madison is doing great and I am excited she is on the path she had paved.

More blog posts will come to pick up where I left off and to bring us up date. I feel there’s a lot of information on how she got to where she is now that is important to share and document.

We haven’t bailed since she reached the goal she initially set. There’s still a lot more to come.

Fruition

When one starts out with a plan you always pray it will come to fruition. You pray to God and you act upon faith. And let me tell you faith can be tested on so many levels. But if you embrace faith you get rewarded. There are so many times of doubt but they strengthen faith with each one. And then you just learn to trust.

Each step of Madison’s homeschooling journey has been based upon faith from my standpoint. It took me a long time to realize this. It couldn’t be based on logic at any point along the way.

I chose the picture above for a reason. The lightbulb has been over our heads the entire time and we never saw it. We had to think and act upon faith to light it.

Madison has overcome the detrimental obstacles of Covid-19 this past year. And she couldn’t have without the most awesome Professors at her college. With that said, we trusted in faith and the path it led us down initially which resulted in her being accepted to Texas Christian University with a Dean’s scholarship. We couldn’t be more proud. Her dream was to attend TCU and it wouldn’t; have even been a possibility without obtaining a scholarship.

She has had so many wonderful and memorable experiences at North Central Texas College and we will be forever grateful for each one. Especially every Professor that left a lifelong impression.

I believe she will be the youngest student to graduate from NCTC since she will graduate at the age of 13. But at the end of the day she realizes that isn’t what is important. The experiences she gained and the growth she made during her time there is what mattered.

I am blessed and humbled that the plan Madison set into place at the age of 7 has come to fruition. A parent couldn’t ask for any more. To say it’s hard to trust a young child with their vision of their future is an understatement.

But I can say 100% confidence now that I’m glad I did. And the only reason I could was because I had faith.

We cannot wait to see what her future holds. All I hope for is that she is happy and enjoys every single minute of it.

On Course

Madison is currently on course to graduate in May with her high school diploma and her Associates of Arts degree at the age of 13. We couldn’t be more proud.

I won’t say Covid hasn’t taken its toll. But with all the amazing Professors she has had, Madison’s goals will become a reality. We are eternally grateful.

We’re Still Here

It’s been awhile since I have posted. We are still here and are doing well.

Madison’s Spring semester was a whirlwind. I was driving her between two community college campuses and she was giving 150% to her classes, volunteering, and honors and leadership programs. And then everything changed in March and a new kind of whirlwind came.

I dedicated my time to supporting her and she ended up maintaining her 4.0 and learned how to enjoy her studies in a new way despite the hurdles.

She’s taking summer courses and we think we have a plan for Fall, I just hope it continues to work out. I am SO grateful for all the awesome Professors that truly care and dedicate their time. I cannot emphasize that enough.

I will write more blogs posts soon, but I am grateful for the interaction via technology from her professors and friends right now. That means the world to us.

We lived in an online learning environment for a year and it was nothing compared to this. She still had outside social activities to balance and honestly the online wasn’t enough. So to go back to that without the balance has been hard.

More to come….

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