The Gifted Child: Being Taught By Others

I have to admit one of the hardest aspects of parenting a gifted child is finding teachers and coaches that understand my child and lift her up versus squashing her. I have found they are rare and few between. For awhile I felt like I was the only one who understood Madison and was the only one who could teach her anything. The only one she would listen to….until her art teacher came along. Some days, like today, I am still speechless when I pick her up and honestly I am fighting back tears because I am so happy, blessed and grateful that someone else not only ‘gets’ my child, but sees the same things I do in her…and more. And most importantly, gives Madison the opportunity to be herself and makes her feel good about it. Here is the picture Madison created today in art:

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The example for the class was a colorful watercolor picture. Madison went with her tornado vision. She added a creepy smiley face at the end and her teacher laughed, as did I. That’s Madison and being asynchronous and 7 years old. I don’t know what we would do without Ms. Mary at the ArtHouse and I don’t even want to think about it, so I won’t. 🙂 I am just going to count my blessings and enjoy every moment. Madison thrives on being able to do her ‘own thing’ while still embracing the technique being taught and we are grateful Ms. Mary understands that and allows her to do this. She has had prior experiences where she was forced to create an exact replicas of examples and she grew to not like art because of this, and from being reprimanded for being different and ended up wanting to quit. Without the right teacher a love and a skill cannot flourish. That’s why it is so important to have a teacher who understands! It ‘makes’ or ‘breaks’ a gifted child.

I am also grateful for the coaches in her life. Madison takes a Homeschool PE class and a Basketball Skills class from Bowmen Sports at our local Rec Center. The coaches are amazing. They are so positive, fair, fun and encouraging that Madison is all smiles the entire time. Now mind you, we have tried several different sports. Swimming, Gymnastics, Dance, etc. and Madison ‘clicks’ with this one. They encourage her in such a positive way that she always has fun. I enjoy sitting and watching her smile! It is SUCH a good feeling! She’s never complained about anything while there. That to me that = success! And of course it’s not just her, all the kids have a blast there. The coaches’ positive vibe and enthusiasm radiates to all of the kids. It’s awesome!

Here is Madison taking a shot:

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And here is her group cheering when she made the shot!

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It takes a lot of trying many different things and personalities of teachers to find a ‘good fit’ for Madison, but when I do, I am grateful and blessed! And so is she!

Gifted children need a certain amount of support for their ‘quirks’ and they are all different. It takes a very talented teacher/coach to recognize this and to reach each child. I have the highest respect for those that can achieve this successfully, because I know it takes a very special kind of person to be able to do so.

Our Week of Gifted Homeschooling 1/5/15-1/10/15

I was hoping after the trying week we had last week that this week would be better. And thankfully it was. We began our activities and I think that helped a lot. This week was fun for both of us. Madison enjoyed learning and I enjoyed homeschooling. I know we’ll have our good days and our bad days, but I’m glad for the most part that this week went well.

I changed up the schedule this semester so that instead of having an activity everyday, we have 2 days of activities and 3 days of school.

One day a week is ‘specials’ day. We have Theater (1hr), Homeschool P.E. (1 1/2hrs), Art (1hr) and Basketball skills (45min). It is a full day and I was worried about over scheduling since I had booked these in advance, but Madison really enjoyed it. If I see it is becoming too much then we will drop something going forward.

Another day during the week is Lego Robotics class and when it’s warmer Park play date. She was ecstatic about her Lego Robotics class. She cannot wait to go again next week!

We started arcademic skill builders this week. Madison is able to practice Math and spelling as a morning warm up. She is really liking it so far.

I use several different curriculums for all of our subjects. Madison is doing great in Math, but I noticed we couldn’t move forward in Time4Learning until she mastered her multiplication and division facts. She was still working on a better mastery of her subtraction facts and because of this it was taking twice as long as it should for her to do her EPGY Math. So we stopped Time4Learning Math and focused on facts. I knew she could do it if she tried, but I also know Madison and she didn’t see the point. That’s her Giftedness – not wanting to do anything she finds boring. So I explained the big picture and that we were at a standstill until she stepped it up. Sure enough this week she mastered subtraction, gained mastery in many multiplication facts using Timez Attack and EPGY Math is going at the rate it should. The fact she is motivated is a huge feat in itself. She is doing practice work on her own without being asked. Yay! Madison loves EPGY Math because “It understands the way that I think and learn.” I am so blessed to have a math curriculum that is designed to teach her so that she learns quickly and doesn’t get frustrated.

Timez Attack: Grey hasn't been introduced, green is mastered, blue is semi-mastered and yellow is currently learning.
Timez Attack: Grey hasn’t been introduced, green is mastered, blue is semi-mastered and yellow is currently learning.

We started our Who Was Helen Keller? unit from Moving Beyond the Page. Madison loves, loves, loves these. They were designed for gifted students. The standards we will cover in the Who Was Helen Keller unit are:

  • Attend to spelling, mechanics, and format for final products in one’s own writing. (Language Arts)
  • Compare language and oral traditions that reflect different people and customs. (Language Arts)
  • Compose first drafts. (Language Arts)
  • Connect and compare information within and across selections (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama) to experience and knowledge. (Language Arts)
  • Create a readable document. (Language Arts)
  • Describe concepts and information in own words. (Language Arts)
  • Develop and use new vocabulary. (Language Arts)
  • Discuss similarities and differences in events, characters, and concepts within and across texts. (Language Arts)
  • Discuss the effect of an author’s choices for nouns, verbs, modifiers, and specific vocabulary, which help the reader comprehend a narrative or expository text. (Language Arts)
  • Distinguish fiction from nonfiction. (Language Arts)
  • Generate ideas for writing by listing key thoughts. (Language Arts)
  • Increase oral and written vocabulary by listening, discussing, and composing texts when responding to literature that is read and heard. (Language Arts)
  • Interpret information from diagrams, charts, and maps. (Language Arts)
  • Locate and use important areas of the library. (Language Arts)
  • Make predictions about text. (Language Arts)
  • Plan and make judgments about what to include in written and oral products. (Language Arts)
  • Pose possible how, why, and what if questions to understand and interpret text. (Language Arts)
  • Read aloud with fluency and expression any text appropriate for early independent readers. (Language Arts)
  • Read and comprehend text by locating information for specific purposes. (Language Arts)
  • Read classic and contemporary work. (Language Arts)
  • Read expository materials for answers to specific questions. (Language Arts)
  • Recall main ideas, facts, and details from a text. (Language Arts)
  • Reread drafts for meaning and revise. (Language Arts)
  • Respond to stories in ways that reflect understanding through writing, music, drama, and art. (Language Arts)
  • Use capitalization, punctuation, and paragraphs in own writing. (Language Arts)
  • Use editing to check for complete sentences and word order. (Language Arts)
  • Use legible handwriting. (Language Arts)
  • Use media and technology to enhance the presentation of information to an audience for a specific purpose. (Language Arts)
  • Use text for a variety of functions including informational. (Language Arts)
  • Use verbal and nonverbal communication. (Language Arts)
  • Write structured, informative presentations and narratives when given help with organization. (Language Arts)
  • Write to communicate with a variety of audiences. (Language Arts)

The skills in this week’s Language Arts unit were:

*Read and comprehend text by locating information for specific purposes.
*Pose possible how, why, and what if questions to understand and interpret text.
*Interpret information from diagrams, charts, and maps.
*Read classic and contemporary work.
*Distinguish fiction from nonfiction.
*Locate and use important areas of the library.
*Make predictions about text.
*Compare language and oral traditions that reflect different people and customs.
*Use verbal and nonverbal communication.
*Develop and use new vocabulary.
*Respond to stories in ways that reflect understanding through writing, music, drama, and art.
*Write to communicate with a variety of audiences.
*Generate ideas for writing by listing key thoughts.
*Plan and make judgements about what to use in a written product.
*Use editing to check for complete sentences and word order.
*Use text for a variety of functions including informational.
*Read expository materials for answers to specific questions.
*Recall main idea, facts and details from a text.

She loves the Who Was Helen Keller? book for this unit and had lots of fun learning. Her favorite activities out of the lessons this week included learning the difference between a biography and an autobiography, decoding a message with sign language, and drawing and writing about a gift for Helen. She is also marking events in Helen’s life on a timeline as she reads each chapter. We learned about Alexander Graham Bell, his inventions and how he helped Helen Keller. Madison also learned about the the inventions from Thomas Edison, Alexander Fleming, The Wright Brothers, and Johannes Gutenburg.

We are speeding right along in Hand Writing Without Tears 3rd grade and Madison learned enough of the alphabet this week to write her name in cursive. She actually squealed high pitch noises in delight. Being able to do this has been a long time goal for her and she was very, very excited to achieve it. Below is her first attempt at the bottom of her handwriting book.

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We completed Lesson 3 in Wordly Wise vocabulary. She didn’t know all of the multiple definitions for the words this time, so that made it fun. Her words this week were: ambition, auction, coast, current, frail, intelligent, novel, resident, starve, and volunteer.

Madison worked on the shades of meaning, point of view, and context clues. She applied these skills when reading authentic nonfiction texts “Homesick” and “Wall of Wonder” in Time4Learning this week.

She worked on sentence structure, sentence composition, narrative paragraphs and parts of speech in EPGY English. It moves at a good pace and she likes that. It really nails down the fundamentals which is very important.

We decided to start keeping a book list this week. (Novel idea huh? ;)) She just finished up a junior novel of Anne of Green Gables and didn’t write it on the list yet and she started How to Train Your Dragon. Our goal is to start reading a lot more.

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I am reading The One and Only Ivan to her and it is a great book. Madison giggles and laughs a lot and we enjoy it. I also read Gloria and Mr. Buckle and One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. Jeff reads The Story of the World Volume One to Madison every night per her request. Then we place timeline cards on her wall. Our goal is to spend a lot more time reading to her as well.

In Science we started the Moving Beyond the Page Sound unit that coincides with the Who Was Helen Keller? Language Art unit.

The standards will we cover in this unit are:

  • Compare results of investigations with what students know about the world. (Science)
  • Construct reasonable explanations and draw conclusions. (Science)
  • Demonstrate how sound is produced by vibrating objects and vibrating columns of air. (Science)
  • Describe how sounds travel through different materials. (Science)
  • Identify, predict, replicate, and create patterns. (Science)
  • Observe and describe how sounds are made by using a variety of instruments and other sound-makers, including human vocal cords. (Science)
  • Observe and record functions of animal parts. (Science)
  • Plan and conduct simple investigations. (Science)
  • Sequence organisms, objects, and events. (Science)
  • Show how altering the size and shape of a variety of instruments can change frequency. (Science)
  • Show how frequency can be changed by altering the rate of the vibration. (Science)
  • Show how the human ear detects sound with a membrane that vibrates when sound reaches it. (Science)

The skills in the Science unit this week were:
*Demonstrate how sound is produced by vibrating objects and vibrating columns of air.
*Show how frequency can be changed by altering the rate of vibration.
*Observe and describe how sounds are made by using a variety of instruments and other sound-makers, including human vocal cords.
*Show how the human ear detects sound with a membrane that vibrates when sound reaches it.
*Observe and record functions of animal parts.
*Identify, predict, replicate, and create patterns.
*Sequence organisms, objects, and events.
*Describe how sounds travel through different materials.
*Compare results of investigations with what students know about the world.
*Plan and conduct simple investigations.
*Construct reasonable explanations and draw conclusions.

I decided to challenge Madison with this unit. I gave her a 4D human ear model that was 22 pieces, a picture on the box, the instructions, and asked her to put it together by herself and walked away. To my surprise she put the whole thing together without any assistance in 45 minutes. Usually Madison gets frustrated and quits. She was SO proud of herself and I was so proud of her too. She says she didn’t use the instructions because using the picture on the box was much easier. Go figure. We also made a homemade ear drum, learned how the sound goes through the ear with a homemade activity and she also filled out a diagram of the parts of the ear. We did activities on matter and molecules, traveling sound, sound and surface, a states of matter and sound demonstration, a sound and materials experiment, and learned sound vocabulary. Science is her favorite subject by far!

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Figuring out how to put the Human Ear Model together
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Completed it all by herself!
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Having fun testing her homemade ear drum!
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Filling out her ear diagram.

Madison practiced key boarding with Dance Mat typing at the beginning of the week, but then I purchased the Handwriting Without Tears keyboarding program because the goats in the Dance Mat Typing drive her nuts. She finds the goats extremely annoying. She loved the HWT keyboard program and I am glad I decided to try it. She did a lesson in Spanish with Rosetta Stone homeschool Spanish. We learned about different ‘wonders’ each day on Wonderopolis. Madison willingly takes the quiz at the end. She cracks me up. We had ‘real world’ learning when we went to the mall so she could use her gift card for Bath and Body Works she received in her stocking from Santa. They had a 75% sale so I showed her how to figure out the price of each item and she made sure she didn’t use the entire amount and saved part of it to go back when they have a summer sale on summer scents. 🙂

Madison is a hoot. Either she really, really likes something or she really doesn’t like something at all. Well, for music I had bought a Music Theory book, but it’s still on the list to do, so in the meantime I checked out videos from the series Meet The Musicians. They are an hour long and not really super entertaining in my opinion, but Madison LOVES them. She begs to watch them. She tells me about how the actor that does the series is SO talented. LOL. Whatever works. Now she can tell you anything about 4 different composers. This week was Gershwin. I need to see if the library has Joplin. He’s the only one left in the series that we haven’t seen.

Madison enjoyed creating and playing in her forts this week. She made one for herself and one for the cat/American girl dolls. She also enjoyed playing Minecraft. She had taken a break from it, but this week expressed interest in playing it again. One of her friends from her Lego robotics class plays it, so I think that sparked her interest since they were discussing it before class. 🙂 This weekend Madison’s religion class resumes and we are looking forward to her First Communion this April. She also loves playing board games so we played plenty of those this week!

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Jeff and Madison went to the Perot Science Museum and met Sean Casey! They enjoyed watching his movie Tornado Alley 3D and Madison even got to sit in the TIV. She had a blast doing all the fun hands on experiments they have during their Discovery Day.

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Meeting Sean Casey!
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Sitting in the TIV! So cool!
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Getting ready to watch the premiere of Tornado Alley 3D!
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Making a tornado!
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An experiment on acid rain.
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More Discovery Days fun!
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Robots!!

Trying to figure out what works best for Madison is a challenge and one that is always changing. I am getting much better at listening to her when she expresses what she needs or wants. This week she told me she wanted to go to the mall and she wanted time to daydream while listening to music. I am very happy that she is learning to become in tune with what she wants and needs and can tell me. After this week I truly feel like we are a team and can accomplish anything. I want to give a huge shout out and kudos to those that homeschool with more than one child. I think it is a ton of work and quite an investment financially with one….I couldn’t imagine more than one!

My Real Gift

This is an amazing post that all parents should read!

EcoScienceGirl: The Blog

Technically speaking, I am profoundly gifted. My IQ is several standard deviations, not just above the norm, but beyond the “gifted” cut-off as well. I am also autistic, falling under the category of high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome and including anxiety and sensory sensitivities. Together, these diagnoses make me twice-exceptional – gifted and learning “disabled.” I was completely lacking theory of mind. I turned to violence to express myself. I had an abusive biological father who turned my brother and I against each other and left us with PTSD. These factors all made me a very challenging child.

I was homeschooled from age five onwards. We had a very extensive homeschool “curriculum” consisting of many outside classes and visits to educational locations. But I struggled personally with depression, coming to terms with my biological parents’ separation and my own differences. When I started college, my then-best friend asked me, “why don’t you…

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The Gifted Child and Sensory Overload- When is it Too Much?

I will admit I saw the articles pass by on how to handle the holidays with a gifted child and I didn’t read them. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I tend to learn the hard way. We had a very busy November and December with lots of fun and exciting experiences and it was just too much for Madison. On Thanksgiving our elves came back. We don’t have just one, but two. I am always focused on the ‘magic of everything’ and making sure we get the ‘most out of everyday’. But life is a learning process and I have learned that making the most out of magic and everyday have different meanings.

Madison woke up before 6am everyday to find her elves for a month straight. She was on a kid ‘high’ for the holidays with all the never ending activities and excitement. We started homeschooling again this week and I noticed she was not focused and yawned a lot. She wasn’t engaged or trying at at all. She had fought me on doing anything school related for the past month. It was a nightmare. It got to the point where I became so frustrated I told her this wasn’t working and I was going to enroll her back into public school. She was exhibiting the same behavior as she did when she was in public school and became disengaged and therefore she wasn’t learning. She immediately became upset and stated she couldn’t go back and apologized 100 times and needed reassurance that I would continue to homeschool her.

And then it hit me.

I made the mistake that most people do, but with my own child. I assumed her lack of focus and effort was because she was being lazy. The child that loves to excel and learn all the time. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what went wrong. So I sat and thought about it and analyzed the situation for a really long time.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I overdid it. The magic. The making the most out of everyday. All the stimulation and lack of sleep had my daughter run ragged. It is fun and she loves it, but she’s 7 and can only take so much. I noticed she had stopped reading on her own as well. There were so many signs I that I missed and misread. I thought providing every experience was broadening her horizons and offering her the hands on learning experiences she needed.

This morning I had a trip planned to go to the art museum to do a scavenger hunt. I took it off the schedule. I told Madison when she woke up in the morning to read, play and we were going to just hang out at home and relax for the weekend. She was disappointed the art museum trip was canceled, but obliged. She spent the day hanging out at home reading and playing. We enjoyed just being together as a family. She read two Geronimo Stilton books and was SO happy. She had the opportunity to relax and just be. And it’s what she needed. Freedom from scheduled activities was the best thing I could do for her. She never once said she was bored. Her happiness today was genuine as compared to the ‘high’ of happiness from the past two months.

Tonight when we put her to bed she said she loved the weekends because she could wake up in the morning and read. I know next week she will be focused on learning and will not be on ‘overdrive’ from constant stimulation of activities. I have learned that the ‘magic’ and ‘making the most of everyday’ is not about how many activities that are planned and trying to take advantage of every learning opportunity. It is about balance. Becoming addicted to being busy can happen and did happen to us. Being constantly on the go doesn’t make for good parenting in our household. It isn’t healthy or genuine for Madison. Relaxing and enjoying reading and hanging out at home with family is just as important as activities and we all need both. Especially Madison. Everything in moderation. That is our new motto for 2015. Life is a constant learning experience for me as a parent who wants to provide the best for my gifted daughter.

The Crazy Fun of November

I realize I am a bit behind on posts and need to catch up before the New Year! The holidays have been a whirlwind of fun! Madison is an extrovert and is always wanting to be on the go and be around people. I am in the middle where I enjoy being around people, but definately need my quiet alone time. I try to accommodate her the best I can and I am blessed to have my husband to help out with the ‘on the go’ part she needs. 🙂

At the beginning of November Madison enjoyed the Dallas Arts District. We started off at the Crow Collection. They have so many great activities for kids on the first Saturday of each month. They also have free face painting and Madison was thrilled to have hers done.

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 264She also enjoyed learning how to make Origami with Paper for Water. Paper for Water is a great organization and the girls that founded this organization have accomplished so many amazing things for such a wonderful cause. It’s worth checking out the link to find out the story behind this non-profit organization and becoming a fan of their Facebook Page to see their amazing accomplishments! They are a great example and inspiration to all children that show a dream or a goal can become a reality.

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We visited Sea Life for their Homeschool Day and learned a TON! They had educated speakers that gave talks on different ocean life throughout the day. We will definitely be back!

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 300We also attended Lego Land’s Homeschool Day as well. It is more commercialized and geared for younger children.

The Rainforest Cafe is located within the same mall as Sea Life and Lego Land so we enjoyed lunch and the atmosphere.

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 313Madison enjoyed performing her play for the parents in her Drama class at The Actors Conservatory. We look forward to the next session to begin in January.

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 314Madison LOVES her art class at the ArtHouse. I cannot say enough good things about her teacher and the valuable lessons she is learning.

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 280The Mensa Youth Group of North Texas hosted an event at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth Texas. Madison really enjoyed sketching one of the pieces of art in the gallery.

iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013Before Thanksgiving Madison enjoyed going to a High School Robotics Competition. She was intrigued by all the different entries and had a really good time going to the booths and experiencing all of the hands on demonstrations. Madison was especially excited to see Homeschoolers at this State High School Competition. They were very successful! iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 017 iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 019For Thanksgiving we traveled to Kansas City, KS. It was perfect timing since we were finishing up our Moving Beyond the Page Tornado Unit and were getting ready to begin our Sarah Plain and Tall Unit. We learned about Renewable energy before our trip and saw many wind turbines as we drove through Kansas. Madison was able to understand what the Prairie looked like as we drove through it. There are lots of fun things to do in Kansas City! The night we arrived we had dinner at the T-Rex restaurant. iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 133We also enjoyed Kaleidoscope. I attended Kaleidoscope as a child as well as my older daughter and it was great to experience it again with Madison. From Kaleidoscope’s website: Kaleidoscope nourishes the creative spirit. It is a place where children are invited to be creative, have fun, and feel good about their own special ideas. Provided by Hallmark Cards, Kaleidoscope is FREE! At Kaleidoscope, children use their imaginations to make art with left-over materials from Hallmark’s manufacturing processes. Some materials are cut into shapes, while others are left just as Hallmark sends them.  And Hallmark provides different materials so the projects are ever-changing! This is a MUST to go to if you are ever in the KC area!

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Madison makes her own puzzle and then cranks the machine to complete it!
Glow in the dark painting with melted crayon is magical!
Glow in the dark painting with melted crayon is magical!
So many different open ended options to create!
So many different open ended options to create!
And one cannot forget to go watch a bow be made right in front of your eyes for you to keep with a touch of a button at the Hallmark Visitors Center next door.
And one cannot forget to go watch a bow be made right in front of your eyes for you to keep with a touch of a button at the Hallmark Visitors Center next door.

Nothing beats BBQ at Jack Stack! iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 195Madison worked very hard to complete Second Grade before the end of November and her reward was a party, so she chose to go to Power Play when we were KC.

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She enjoyed Go Karting
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Tilt a Whirl with her sister
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Climbing a moving and leaning rock wall
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Skee Ball
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And Dance Dance Revolution

Family Games are Madison’s favorite. Even Solitaire Chess! 🙂 iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 141  iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 159 iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 201 Madison was elated to feed the horses in her sister’s backyard when we dropped her off at college on our way home. iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 205 When Madison arrived home, she was surprised by the arrival of her Elves. She proceeded to wake up at 5am every morning thereafter to find them. :/ iphone pics and videos up to 7-17-2013 206We enjoyed having a lot of fun in November. The first part of December was a bit more calm and we were able to utilize that time to really move forward with our schoolwork. Work Hard. Play Hard.

Asynchronism: The Gifted Child Flipping a Switch

I think the hardest part of raising and teaching a highly gifted child is asynchronism. One moment she’s so mature and talking as if she is 20 and the very next second she is clapping and dancing around as if she was 3. I have found for me that it is very hard to immediately ‘flip that switch’ with her and I find myself thinking, whoa, where did that come from? Why are you acting like that? But….I have realized she only does it because she feels safe to. Because it’s who she is and I am grateful that she can be childlike and happy.

In regard to my last post, it is very hard to trust her 100% in knowing what she wants in life and what is best for her when I see the switches in her maturity, but I am constantly reminded that I need to because she is so confident and happy with the path she has chosen. And it is working. Not to say we don’t have our off days, but I remember the majority of days last year were really bad and off days this year doesn’t even compare.

We we went to an event yesterday evening at her public school. I was worried she’d be upset because she would miss going to school there. The event was inside the building and she hasn’t been in the building since last year. I expressed this concern as we were walking over and she laughed at me and said, “Why would I miss it?  I love homeschooling.”

She was the one who begged me to homeschool her. I was the hesitant one. It’s my preconceived notion she would miss it. Not her. She’s good. Really good. As a parent, I feel guilty that she has to reassure me. Sure she misses recess. Yes it does really bother me that in other states homeschooling children can attend specials classes and be counted for enrollment in the schools which is a win/win for both and we don’t have that option in Texas. But I can either choose to see the negatives and be unhappy or be like Madison and be super happy that she can move up an entire grade in 3 months, take time to go in depth on things she wants to learn and have so many fun, hands on learning experiences that she wouldn’t trade it for the world. She has the time and the freedom to be creative and to really enjoy learning. She sees the ‘big picture’ and that what she’s doing now will benefit her in the long run.

We started a new unit for Language Arts. One of the activities was to draw a picture of yourself portraying your life and to give it a title. She came to me and said I drew myself as a doctor because I know that’s what I’m going to be for sure. I told her she could do whatever she wants, it’s her project. I know most can’t understand a child expressing this without believing a parent ‘pushed’ a child to think this way, but I promise you, this is her own outlook. I told her when we started homeschooling that she had two choices because we could do this two ways….she could do it slow and at the same pace as everyone else and have a ton of free time or she could work really hard during school time and move levels as fast as she wanted to and end up going to college early. I explained that in the future she could do high school courses as dual credit at a community college and not have to do the same general courses twice. She could choose the pace she wanted to for homeschooling. Either way she spends about 4 hours doing formal learning. It’s just depends how hard to wants to work during those hours that determines how far she succeeds.

I gave her the choice because I have researched and have found that sometimes gifted children get frustrated and give up. If they can’t focus on their specific area of interest then they are not interested at all. I explained to her that she has to learn the foundation of education to be able to move on to the specific area of interests that she wants to. She was able to understand all of this. She works really hard even on the things she doesn’t enjoy or find fun. We take extra time for the things she does find fun because she enjoys them. We are able to learn other fun things that aren’t ‘objectives’. She also does art, drama, basketball, lego robotics, etc.

Most importantly she gets to be a kid and be herself. And I adjust to her. And I learn to trust her. And I am so very proud of who she is. Asynchrony and all. I am amazed by her confidence, innocence of not caring what the world thinks, her ability to be herself and to be happy. She is a reminder everyday of what I strive to become. I have 100% faith in her even though it is not the norm to let a young child lead.

Here is an example of how she enjoys being who she is. It is dark, so it’s hard to see her, but she’s jamming out to the music with the lights in her own interpretive dance. 🙂 And I love that she can just break out dancing in her own way with other people around and enjoy herself. I hope she never looses this ability.

 

 

A Whole New Outlook on Parenting a Highly Gifted Child

Parenting Madison brings a whole new definition to parenting. I am very grateful she is my child. I am envious of the outlook she has on life. If I had the insight she does or have had the trust that I have in her….

As a parent, our instinct is to protect our children. And tonight I realized that is not what my role as a parent is with Madison. It is to trust. 100%.

Riaisng a gifted asynchronist child is the most difficult thing I have ever done and most of the time it feels impossible, because it goes against everything one knows. To be able to trust a highly gifted 7 year old with the emotional capacity of a 4 year old at times is a roller coaster ride, to say the least.

But to watch her and listen to her in certain social situations, I realize that my preconceived notions are invalid. And it blows my mind.

So from learning day by day and from learning that ‘seeing is believing’ I will say, I have learned to trust my child 100%. And I am proud that I learn from her and the patience she has for me.

From this day forward I promise to never ‘purposely down’ how amazing she is or diminish her abilities and realize how lucky I am to be her mom.

Madison teaches ME every day and from this day forward I will embrace every moment without doubt. God bless her wisdom and ability to think like an adult and to be genuine while being 7 all at the same time. She does much better than I do and even though I get annoyed with her lack of maturity at times, I am envious of her maturity when it matters. God bless her.

Being Human

The best part of being human is being able to recognize your mistakes and to rectify them and learn from them going forward. Madison recently moved from Second Grade to Third Grade. Normally, in a classroom setting she would start the Third Grade year with review of Second Grade and ease into Third Grade expectations. But not in homeschooling. There was no pause. It was pass Go, collect $200 and keep on going.

Except, Third Grade is more involved then Second Grade and takes more time. And mom found another great English curriculum. Which essentially means Madison was doing double to the work. And for many hours longer than she should be. And after a couple of weeks, she got burnt out.

When I noticed her behavior change on Friday, I needed to stop and access the situation. I needed to figure out the sudden change and the resistance to her wanting to learn. And after hours of analyzing, it hit me. I pushed too far and expected too much. I realized she was doing two hours of Math and three hours of English a day.

When you have a gifted child that loves to learn it’s really hard to not get caught up and want to download as much as you possibly can. But she’s human and I realized we had download overdrive. So this morning when she woke up, I said, this is a free week. You don’t have to do any structured learning at all. Her eyes immediately lit up. She chose to watch Mickey’s Clubhouse even though she knew it was ‘too young’ for her and laughed the entire time. I felt SO gulity.

And then the element of conflict arose. I realized our subscription to Timez Attack expired in 2 days. She had reached the post test last week and had ‘mastered’ subtraction at 79%. To me that isn’t a true mastery grade. Her reward for mastery is going to Chuck e Cheese. So I explained today that she didn’t have to do any schoolwork. But….I wasn’t going to pay $20 for another 3 months of subtraction when I knew she could do it. She had the choice to master it before the subscription ended and earn going to Chuck e Cheese  or she could skip it. The choice was hers.

She spent 30 min today on subtraction and mastered it with a 90% on the post test. And 90% is awesome in my eyes. I don’t expect perfection. I also know it has to be her choice to learn and succeed.

I also know she will learn plenty this week on her own and I won’t purposely teach a thing. Everything I do is by what she needs, but switching gears and realizing what that is, is the hard part. Listening and trusting in her and her drive for learning when and how she wants to is a scary process. But in the end I don’t really have a choice. If we go by ‘my way’, she shuts down. And that’s not basics. She’s very good about understanding she has to do things she doesn’t want to, but not for hours upon end. Madison has her own gauge and internal curiosity and she also knows when it’s pushed over the max.

Today we went shopping and she picked out an outfit she LOVED. We had lunch and came home and played dolls. She was a very happy child today. And she begged me to read her a non-fiction book about Kansas before bed. LOL. It’s all about the natural, self-driven learner and not sucking the love of learning out of a child.

Homeschooling is learning process for both of us. I am just grateful for the groups I have come to rely on for knowledge and experience because that is what helped me understand that there was a problem, I was the problem and what I needed to do to change it. I am not perfect. I never expect to be, but the fact I can admit when I make mistakes and always try to do what is best for my daughter is something I am very grateful for. I am sure I will make many more mistakes because I am human, but learning from my mistakes and preventing doing the same mistake twice will be a blessing. Life is full of challenges and I am ready for all of them, because the rewards are tremendous. As is the natural thirst of learning from my daughter that I now understand I can not push or it will disappear.

The happiness I saw in her today while watching her show and shopping and lunch and playing dolls is priceless. The happiness I see when she is excited to learn anything she can, asks 1,000 questions and applies her knowledge in amazing ways. A happy childhood by whatever definition that may be and is chosen by her and is driven by her is priceless.

The Gift of Curiosity

Madison has been a self driven learner since she was born. I didn’t fully realize how much until she was 18 months old and recited her ABC’s on her own and sang anything she heard on her own from memory. From Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to songs on the radio. By the time she was two she exceed the numbers of words spoken for her age times 5. She didn’t play with toys like other children. She lined them up and made patterns out of everything. She never kept the sand in the sandbox and the backyard was always a mess with her creations and she was always covered in dirt from head to toe if you let her outside, even for a minute. Everything she did was ‘different’. And in this ‘different’ way she learned. And by learned I mean soared. She always craved knowledge and couldn’t get enough. And if she didn’t, she was a mess emotionally.

Then came kindergarten. She loved school, her friends and her teacher, but she had many tears. She didn’t thrive in the classroom setting. She got in trouble a lot. She wanted it to work so badly, but I also saw it was emotionally draining and I lost a piece of my child during that process. But nothing like what was to come….

First grade came and it was a disaster. I advocated. I got mad. It tore my heart to pieces to see my child so miserable. She became depressed. The child I knew was gone. She begged me to homeschool to her. To pull her and not look back. Instead I chose to test her and advocate. That was the one choice I will always regret. Not listening to her. She had no opportunity to be a self driven learner for an entire year. I had lost the child I once knew. This child was miserable.

I made the decision to homeschool her.. And not without scrutiny from family, which was extremely hard. (Major shout out to my dad for understanding! Honestly would have been 1000 times harder without his support and it means the WORLD!) Slowly, I started to see the child I once knew come back. She became happy again. She started to love learning again. She is a subject matter expert in Ancient Egypt. And rocks. And so many other things. The child who is allowed to pursue their interests retains that information for life.

She drives and I follow. And once again I have the child I once knew. The one who qualified for Mensa. The one who can’t get enough information. The one who loves to learn. And I am SO grateful and thank God everyday that I didn’t loose her. And I thank God that I get to be a part of the miracle I experience each and every day when I watch her learn and not because I tell her she has to, but because she wants to. She is naturally curious. All on her own with such enthusiasm. That in itself is such an amazing experience. One that I am probably not worthy of, but am so very grateful for.

Today she chose to read a biography on Harriet Tubman. Not only did she choose to read it on her own, she couldn’t wait to tell me all about it when she finished. This is Madison’s ‘normal’. It is her normal to want to tell us everything she knows. It is her normal to create projects and to soak up any information on anything that interests her like a sponge. And it is also her normal to play with dolls and to play games and to be a kid at the same time. And with a great balance of both, she is happy. And honestly that is all that matters to me.

I am grateful my husband supports me 100%. He has lived this as well and knows what Madison needs and is grateful I am able to provide that for her. He sees the difference and knows we are making the right choices for her and is proud. I am grateful for this because I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

My dad has always supported me. He has always believed in me. And this has allowed me to do what is best for my daughter even though many don’t and probably will never understand. He took the time to understand. And I will be forever grateful to him for that because I wouldn’t be able to do what I am with confidence without his support.

I am also grateful for my older daughter’s support. She has always thought homeschooling was the best option for Madison and is very helpful with any questions I have. She is my go-to when I am not sure of a direction I should go. I am grateful for her knowledge and success on tests to get into college to base what really is important for Madison to learn outside of her interests and what is not. She rocks!

I am am one very lucky girl.

Homeschooling a Gifted Child is an Evolving Process

I thought I had it all figured out. 🙂 But I was told during my first year of homesçhooling I would be changing my curriculum and figuring things out many times. And they were right. 🙂 Madison is a free spirit that doesn’t like routine. She would suffocate if she had to do the same thing at the same time everyday. Everything has to have a purpose and has to move at her pace. Homeschooling a gifted child is an evolving process both educationally and emotionally.

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So here is an update on where we are at and what I have learned so far:

Today, Madison officially completed Second Grade in all of her subjects. And not only in all of her subjects, but with several different curriculums. She is looking forward to celebrating with an ice cream party that includes pizza too. She’s worked hard and she deserves it.

imageTaking a step back, I want to note she achieved this goal by working hard for about 4 hours a day. The rest of the time she enjoyed field trips, playing at the park with other homeschool kids, hands on Science classes, having ample time to create on her own and use her imagination, learn basketball skills, and taking art classes. She didn’t sit at a desk and cram for hours on end.

She is getting a very well rounded education that exceeds state standards by far and in a way that she is retaining it all. She does online learning for Math and English. We do spelling, vocabulary, cursive, Science and Social Studies. All of her other classes she does outside the home.

I have found by homeschooling her she is engaged because she moves at her own pace. She is not frustrated and actually loves to learn. This also leaves us with plenty of time for field trips and hands on learning.
imageLearning with a purpose. Madison is also looking forward to upcoming homeschooling classes in Science, like Robotics and private piano lessons.

I know the public schools are implementing as much hands on learning as they can and that is SO awesome and important. I also know it is not the right fit for Madison because she LOVES the curriculum that we use at home and she even mentions how grateful she is that we are using it and she knows she couldn’t if she was in school.

Madison is very literature based and the Moving Beyond The Page curriculum is perfect for her. She gets excited and cheers when it’s time to do it. It covers English, Science and Social Studies in a great way for gifted children. She is able to makes choices on activities and it is a great curriculum for her to be able to express her creativity.

She loves giftedandtalented.com because she doesn’t have to have a lot of repetitive instruction when she grasps concepts quickly. It makes sure she’s mastered concepts and she loves the pace. It is through Stanford University and is amazing. We will be using this curriculum for Math and English the entire time we homeschool and it records all the concepts and scores automatically.

We use time4learning.com as a supplement for Math and English to mix it up for Madison. It is a different format with fun videos that makes learning fun. She watches the videos and laughs because they are very entertaining. She also enjoys taking the quizzes too.

I love the fact we are able to dig deeper into the topics Madison is interested in and have the time to be able to let her explore all she wants. Her latest topics of interest are tornadoes, the Plimoth Plantation, and Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’.

We read Story of the World as a bedtime story and she looks forward to it every evening. She reads Life of Fred and Christian Liberty Nature Reader for fun and loves them.

At the beginning of the year I was bitter, because I felt like Madison was ‘cheated’ not being able to flourish in the public school system. I was upset because my life was now consumed with teaching (something I had not planned on) and the expense of homeschooling while paying taxes was extremely frustrating.

Now I can see that it is a blessing. I see the major impact it has had on her in such a positive way and I enjoy teaching her because it is so much fun. It is very expensive, but worth every dime.

The public school system it is still a place that is getting better everyday for the students to give them the freedom to learn differently and it is great for the students there. But I also realize it is not for Madison. I believe that 100%. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not the school’s fault and it’s not Madison’s fault. It just is what it is. She has the opportunity to learn how she does best and that’s great for her. And the public school will provide an excellent education to the students there. And that’s great for them. It’s not ‘just one teacher’ that made my decision easy to homeschool and to have Madison beg to homeschool, it’s because she now has the freedom to learn how she does best, at her pace, all day, everyday. I will always advocate for hands on learning and the opportunity for students to explore their own interests in the public school system, because I see first hand how it has impacted Madison in a such a positive way. But I know it is very hard with class sizes that exceed 20 students (which I think is INSANE) and needs to be addressed immediately.

Madison gets plenty of socialization with other kids through activities. She works in groups on a weekly basis. She sits in a classroom setting and can do so better now then before. She is very attentive and has awesome behavior in all of her activities and classes. I am very proud of her.

She isn’t missing out on a thing, she has actually gained so much richness, meaning and purpose in her life. She is blessed and is very happy. As am I.

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