Radical Acceleration for the Win

This Fall, Madison started her first semester with a full course load. I was worried it would be too much for her since she is only 12. I worried about how the other kids would treat her. I worried about how the professors would treat her. I also worried about her taking Biology for Science Majors since she hadn’t had any chemistry and wasn’t interested in science up to this point.

One by one, each of my worries faded. I need to learn to stop worrying. Ha! The coursework wasn’t too much, and she loves immersing herself in it. Regarding how the students and teachers would react, I soon found out that they all thought she was in high school since she is a dual credit student. Madison does look older for her age, which is great and not so great at the same time. To be on the safe side, Madison does tell those around her how old she is, especially boys. 🙂 She does not offer up her age to her professors, however. She has come to find out they have a harder time digesting that’s information.

I did think the Biology for Science Majors course might be too hard. At first, there was a learning curve, especially with the labs and the lab test. But then Madison had another educational jump. She is getting 100% (they have extra credit) and is taking the class as an honors class. She loves Biology and talks about it all the time. I would have never guessed in a million years that Madison would get a higher grade in Biology than US History, let alone love it.

She had a bit of a hiccup with Spanish since it is online. She had signed up for a hybrid class, but it was canceled. She sought out help and is now tutoring with the full time local Spanish teacher who is fantastic and is signed up for her class next semester for Spanish II.

I always question are we doing the right thing for Madison? And as of right now, I can confidently say yes, we are. She is so happy. She can’t wait to go to class every day and enjoys the coursework, lectures, projects, studying with other students, etc. she is genuinely happy, and that’s all that matters to me.

She has other activities she attends weekly with kids her age and enjoys playing the piano and taking lessons. There is more to her than just school, but it’s the majority of her happiness. She truly loves learning. There’s a downside to that as well, which will be a different post. Sometimes Madison has me pulling my hair out. Ha!

Overall this semester has broadened her horizons not only on an educational level, but on an ethical level as well. She can be who she is, believe in what she believes in, succeed and most importantly enjoy every minute of it. All at the same time. And that is SO important. ❤️❤️❤️

 

The Past Six Months – A Quick Update and Advice Needed

The past six months have been a complete whirlwind. Over the summer we traveled to Hawaii, Kansas City, Southern Texas, and Orlando. We knew there would not be a chance to travel for over at least a year, so we packed it in. More posts to come on those adventures.

After completing a career research paper during the class Madison took in the Spring, she decided she wanted to major in Biology. So we had to switch up her schedule for the Fall. She is now taking US History I, Spanish I, Art Appreciation, and Biology I for Science Majors. This is a big deal, because Madison is really good English/History/Art and is not as advanced in Math and Science. She hasn’t had any Chemistry and we probably didn’t realize the amount of back knowledge that was needed for Biology. She caught up very quickly and also passed the Math TSI so she could take College Algebra in the Spring.

We are on week five and so far she has all A’s, but she has many more tests coming so we will see if she can maintain them. I hope that she will, I’m just trying to be realistic as always.😂 She’s determined, that is for sure.

I plan on writing some posts about how we are trying to navigate dual credit and graduating from high school and community college at the same time in two years. I have no idea of it will actually happen and I’m kind of going into it a little blind.

I do know she will need to apply to Universities next year. I keep telling her we could/should maybe slow down (because I’m overwhelmed) and she wants nothing to do with that. 😂

And lastly, I need some advice on how to handle medical professionals that ask why my 12 year old is in community college and share their opinion on it. (Not her Pediatrician who is wonderful.) I was caught off guard and I should have said, because she wants to, but I wasn’t quick enough. I just brushed it off and ignored the judgement. Needless to say, we won’t be going back to that doctor, but how does one respond to that question on the fly? I’d love to hear suggestions so that not only I can be prepared, but Madison can as well.

Radical Acceleration: A Successful Transition to College

Madison has wrapped up her Spring semester of classes for the 2018-2019 school year. Her transition to college this year has been a very positive one. Madison earned 100% in her First college course this semester and she was proud to accomplish this goal. She was sad that the class ended.

It’s funny, once you know a gifted kid, you know a gifted kid. They are all so different. And what works for one doesn’t work for another. There is no guidebook. There are great resources available now, but there isn’t a definite path that is laid out for radical acceleration. We are grateful for the resources we have been provided and connections we have made through the Davidson Young Scholar Program.

I’ve learned a lot along the way, but the main thing I have learned throughout is to trust my gut. Up until this point I have moved forward, but have self doubted myself. I worried endlessly (and have wrinkles to prove it, lol) if I was doing what was best for Madison. I worried what would happen if she didn’t reach her goals that she had set for herself and had worked so hard for 5 years for. My gut told me at the beginning of the year she needed to be back in a classroom by mid year. I am so glad I listened and was confident in this decision.

I know one thing is for certain, if I had held her back with her grade age peers by the time she hit college she would have been over it. Every ounce of the love for learning would be gone. I am SO blessed to see her excited to go to class and to take it seriously. I am glad I trusted that she knew what she needed academically, emotionally, and socially and listened to her every step of the way, even when it was hard.

Madison hasn’t really ever ‘hit the wall.’ By that I mean she doesn’t really know how to study. She got an idea with this class, but by making 102% on a test versus 95% by studying. She was adamant about taking 15 credit hours next semester. Four of those will be Spanish. That class moves fairly quickly. I cannot wait for her to be challenged and I am looking forward to it. 🙂 She needs to know what that feels like and how to overcome it. Time will tell, but in the meantime I am going to enjoy a nice and relaxing summer while Madison has fun at various summer camps. 🙂 I’m looking forward to that as well.

When I Was Seven….

A blog post from Madison regarding radical acceleration in her own words:

When I was seven years old, I made two very important decisions about my education and my future career. The first decision was regarding how I wanted to learn. My mother, who had pulled me out of school that year to homeschool me per my request, let me choose the path I wanted to take for my education: I could stay at grade-level or pursue a radically accelerated education and try to attend college early.  I chose to become a radically accelerated student, making the goal to become a full-time dual credit student by the age of twelve. I made this decision because I love to learn; it is the soul of my being and I crave it. The second decision was regarding what career I wanted to pursue. I decided, at that age, that I wanted to become a doctor. At first, I was convinced that I would be a veterinarian. My family fostered many dogs over the years, and one of them, a little puppy, died of kidney failure. I found the experience difficult, and wished I could save him. Later, however, I understood that taking care of animals wasn’t the right path for me. I aspired to help people with their illnesses and injuries, specifically children. So, I decided I wanted to become a pediatrician. I have been working towards accomplishing those two goals, to go to college early and become a pediatrician, ever since.

 

I’m eleven now, and a part-time dual credit student. In the fall, I will be a twelve-year-old dual credit student attending college full time. I plan to earn my associate’s degree and then go to the University of Texas in Arlington and earn my bachelor’s degree. After that, I want to attend a medical school, enter a residency program, and become a pediatrician, most likely working at a medical clinic. I love children of all ages and would enjoy caring for them. After I become a pediatrician, I would also like to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in English, and a Ph. D in psychology.

I love learning, so I’m starting early so I can get the education I want. I have maintained a 4.0 in my high school transcript with perseverance, and am determined to graduate college with honors. I continue to enjoy learning a plethora of information through my classes. My education will continue to be my top priority throughout my life, and I will always receive pleasure by learning something new every day.

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

While we were at Physics Fest in College Station, Texas we took the opportunity to visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

We decided to start at the current rotating exhibit called Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America.

It was created by the International Spy Museum located in Washington D.C. and we really enjoyed it. This is the best way to learn about our history.

I didn’t realize Madison didn’t know about the Oklahoma bombing. So this summer when we go to Kansas City we will stop and complete a junior ranger badge for the memorial. The junior ranger badges are an excellent way to learn.

We spent so much time in the rotating exhibit we kind of flew through the rest of the museum. We will definitely will go back next year and spend more time and enjoy it.

We watched a short movie on the Gulf war.

The Gate of Kuwait.

Madison also got to see a piece of the Berlin Wall.

This museum was fantastic and I highly recommend going if you are in the area. We look forward to going again and spending more time learning.

Physics Fest 2019

Earlier in April we traveled down to College Station, TX for Physics Fest at A&M. When we went last year we found out that Madison isn’t really into physics. 😂 But…she really likes the group we hang out with and socializing so we decided to go again this year.

On our way there we stopped in Waco. Last year we went to Magnolia Market and the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This year we stopped in Waco again and went to the Cameron Park Zoo.

It was a neat little zoo.

When we arrived at a College Station we went to dinner at Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, TX. We went there last year and loved it and it was just as wonderful this year too. Someday we are going to go stay at the resort there as well.

We attended a special lunch lecture on the Planet 9 at Physics Fest the next day. Madison loved that lecture. For kids who are physics oriented I highly recommend this event. Mark your calendars for April 4, 2020.

While we were at College Station, we went to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It was so cool. I took a lot pictures and it deserves it’s own post.

Even though this year Physics Fest was our main event, the other places we visited were great and the opportunity for Madison to socialize was well worth the trip. We also had a blast catching up with friends over pizza.

The most memorable event that took the cake was hearing a speaker on radical acceleration.

Information and research on radical acceleration is worth more than it’s weight in gold. More than gold, it’s life changing. We are so grateful and blessed for it.

With that said, we need to ensure that physics fest is an event that is funded for generations to come. Any communications to A&M on the importance of this festival is welcomed. It is priceless.

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!

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