Washington D.C. Day 1

This trip was very busy, but very rewarding. We had booked the airfare for this trip months in advance at a very good price. Finding a hotel was challenging, but in the end we feel we picked the perfect one within our price range. We ended up choosing the Grand Hyatt. It was in a safe area, was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and we were able to access the metro from below the lobby.

September was a great month to visit because it wasn’t crowded and the weather was perfect. When we checked into our hotel we were offered to upgrade to the Club Level. We chose to do this because they offered breakfast, snacks, appetizers and deserts. It also included a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos and included bottled water, sparkling water, milk, and sodas. We quickly added up the costs of bottled water ($4 in the gift shop), Starbucks for breakfast in the morning, etc. and the price for the upgrade was a better deal. We ended up eating a big lunch out everyday, but that was the only time we needed to eat a meal.




After we checked in we headed to the National Museum of American History. When we arrived, we took a Highlights tour. We learned the history behind many things including the Star Spangled Banner, George Washington’s uniform, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, the First Lady’s gowns, Julia Child’s Kitchen, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the chairs and table used by Lee and Grant during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, and much more. The amount to see is overwhelming. Of course after all of the history Madison learned and even with her love of American History, her favorite sight was a doll house. Yep, a doll house. It is a super cool doll house and she is now inspired to build her own from scratch. She went back later in the trip just to have Jeff take a picture of each room. Here is more information on the Dolls’ House.

The top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot. 

Madison posing as President with Regan’s administration.

After the American History museum we were tired. We had woken up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight. We had watched the sunrise while in the air and we were exhausted by this point so we called it a night.

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Washington D.C. Day 3

On our third day in Washington D.C. we toured the White House. To be able to tour the White House, you must contact your Member of Congress 3 months prior to your visit to request a tour. For the details to request a tour click HERE.

Also, please note that some things are prohibited on the tour, such as purses, backpacks, etc. Here is a LINK for more information.

We really enjoyed touring the White House and highly recommended it!

Then we made a stop by the Museum of Natural History.

Madison enjoyed the Hope Diamond and the Butterfly Garden the most. 🙂

It was a very eventful Day 3 in Washington D.C.!

Gifted Homeschooling Update September 2017

The past month has been a whirlwind. We have mainly focused on Madison’s online Intro to Composition class and completing US History II.

I feel that writing is a basic need for every other subject. It is a life skill. I wasn’t able to hold Madison accountable or motivate her like an outside resource could. I also knew that she needed feedback on her writing from someone other than me. And she also needed to learn how to meet deadlines and follow a schedule.

This Intro to Comp class has been wonderful. Overwhelming at first to work ahead for our vacation we took to Washington DC, but it was well worth it . She absolutely loves this class. She gets to work with other kids and is gaining so much knowledge in writing at the same time. I highly recommend any writing course that meets that criteria. It’s worth the push and I honestly believe it is better for kids in the end. The longer writing is put off the harder it is. It has to be a continual effort to succeed. It has taken up a majority of Madison’s time and it is times like this that I am so grateful we Homeschool. Madison is at different grades for each subject she is in, so we have the flexibility to put some things off while focusing and digging deeper into others.

She did complete US History II and US Government. By completing those before our trip to Washington DC, I felt she was able to get the most she could out of it because she had the background she needed to understand the references that were made. She was able to apply her knowledge to what she saw and experienced.

It was only our first trip. We plan on making another trip in the future, but this trip was phenomenal and I can’t wait to share it in upcoming posts.

Aside from her classes, Madison is enjoying piano lessons, chess, religion, and co-op which consists of Homeschool PE, lunch, cooking and Math mania.

She is beginning Wordly Wise 3000 book 7, continuing in Geography, Physical Science and Touch-Type Read and Spell.

For Math, we have gone backwards. Madison needed some more foundation skills in fractions to be able to successfully move forward to ratios and the conversion of fractions and decimals. I decided to try ST Math as one last attempt before getting a tutor. The Psychologist said she was a visual learner and this program is totally visual. There are no words. So far it seems to be working. We’ll see after she completes 5th grade and moves up. She says it is helping, so I am going to go off of that for now.

Madison is also working on programs called Dyslexia Gold and Luminocity. She is working on eye tracking and fluency with Dyslexia Gold and cognitive skills with Luminocity. We just started both so I hope to see improvement in these areas in the future.

I’m also going to write a future post regarding homeschooling and socialization. I do believe there is a strong stigma regarding the two that needs to be addressed. 

Our Homeschool Curriculum and Activities for 2017-2018


Here we go on our fourth year of homeschooling! I have finally learned that I always have a plan or an idea for a plan for what we are going to do for the year curriculum wise and then it ALWAYS changes. So here is my initial plan for this year. Ha! Ha! Also, this post contains affiliate links, so please see my disclosure policy for more information.

English:

  1.  Madison is going to be taking an Introduction to Composition course this year. It is an accredited, online class and she is really looking forward to it. I think it will be a great challenge for her and will help her writing immensely.
  2. Madison will also continue to use Wordly Wise 3000 online. She has just begun book 7. This is probably the only curriculum that we still use from the beginning. It is wonderful!

Math:

I just don’t even want to talk about Math right now. I think we are going to try AELKS. I will update with a post when I figure it out.

Science:

Madison finished Life and Earth Science through Accellus and just began Physical Science. While she onePhysical Science lesson a day, will begin our Moving Beyond the Page 11-13 units. We are going to start with Technological Design and then Earth Cycles and Systems, Force and Motion, The Hydrosphere again and The Atmosphere. This way she gets some hands on experiments. There are a TON of hands on activities in each of these units. She learns best visually, but she isn’t going to have fun just watching videos all of the time.

Social Studies/History:

Madison completed US History I and is finishing up US History II and US Government High School courses through Accellus in preparation for our upcoming trip to Washington D.C. Then she will finish up Middle School Geography. She was half way through this course and we stopped to focus on US History. Geography is not her favorite subject so this course was perfect for her. While it’s a long course, the videos are relatively short so even if it takes us forever to get through it, at least she will have it under her belt. She has already listened to all four volumes of Story of the World, so we are going to do Personal Finance next. Then we will look into CLEP and AP tests for US and World History.

Electives and Activities:

We joined a homeschool co-op and so once a week Madison will be taking a Homeschool PE class, a cooking class, and a Math Mania class. She is excited and is really looking forward to this co-op.

Madison will continue to do art through HomeArtSTudio and Meet the Masters.

She will continue her third year of piano lessons.

Madison will also continue her foreign language learning with Rosetta Stone Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set, Learn French: Rosetta Stone French – Level 1-5 Set, and Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian – Level 1-5 Set.

Most of her free time has been dedicated to playing Chess. See my post on A Girl and Her Love of Chess for more details.

Madison will also be doing Speech and Debate this Spring with the DFW Speech Club. Madison is not old enough yet, but when she turns 12, she cannot wait to join the Debate Club too!

A Girl and Her Love of Chess


Madison has always ‘liked’ chess, but recently she has engulfed herself in it. The past six months she has taken her love for chess to a much higher level.

Madison discovered chess tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy. She participated and learned how to use a chess clock and notate the game. At first it was a little intimidating, but after attending a few it became much easier. She also started taking private lessons with Coach Chris. Every single time we get into the car after one of her lessons she says, “I love Chess so much!” She not only understands the game so much better and not just technically, but also now is starting to understand the history, wonder, and the players that have achieved greatness. She has also attended camps that she enjoyed as well. And she has had the opporutnity to meet the newest champions that live in our area at North Texas Chess Academy. It has been quite a special experience!


Over the summer Madison took another chess camp through Mosaic with Alexey Root. Throughout the week the kids in the class play each other. At the end, the top two winners play each other. It was a complicated and grueling game, but Madison ended up winning. This boosted her self-confidence and what encouraged her need to grow and learn more about chess.

Madison’s birthday is over the summer and her Pen Pal that she has been writing back and forth with for 2 years sent her the perfect gift!

 

Madison also has a unique opportunity to have weekly small group online chess sessions for two hours with a Grandmaster. She loves these sessions and looks forward to them every week!

For the Fall, Madison plans on continuing all of the things above and has decided to join two chess clubs. The first one is with a local Catholic Homeschool Association. They will practice together and compete as a team in local Scholastic Chess Tournaments. The second club is an Online Homeschool Chess Club. They have weekly lessons and then participate in live, rated online chess tournaments twice a week.

She is very excited for these new endeavors. She has been playing chess for hours already, but it is much more fun when they are organized events where you can build friendships. 🙂 

Her favorite person to play though is her Papa. 

His gift is what encouraged her to learn to begin with. 🙂 


 

 

And Then It Was May


Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of months. Not just for me, but many others as well. 

At the end of March, Madison was accepted into the Davidson Young Scholar Program. Along with her testing it has opened many doors and is worth the time it takes to apply. The amount of resources and connections have been amazing and it has only been a couple of months…

I truly do believe we do not meet people by accident and that there is a higher power that leads us when we need it the most. I thank God for that every day. 

Madison’s testing solidified that she learns best visually. So, we switched things up a bit again. She is now using the program from Acellus. It has its pros and cons, but it is working. I’ll post more on the pros and cons and how we are getting around them in a separate post, but I am extremely grateful for this program and how well she’s doing with it. 

I had her look through the curriulum for the 11-13 age from Moving Beyond the Page and she chose which units she wanted to do. It has fun projects and presents itself well so we are digging deeper with it in the topics she is interested in. 

For the Fall, Madison has chosen to take an online Intro to Composition course, Speech and Debate, continuing piano, homeschool band, homeschool PE, and chess tournaments. 



I wanted to keep her schedule to just those things so that we are not ‘go, go, go’ all of the time and so she has downtime to collect all of her thoughts and work on projects, to play games and to have the freedom to be creative in an unstructured environment. 

I have not kept track of the books she has read which kills me, however I have a summer book list and so it will be easier going forward. She is re-reading a lot of her favorites that she enjoyed. 

Speech and Debate and Chess will take up a lot of her time. We are not used to that, but she loves them both so she is adjusting quite well. 

We are continuing school until Madison starts summer camps. 

I will get into more detail when I post about acellus, but Madison has blown me away with her progress. It actually freaks me out and is hard to digest sometimes. 

Chronologically, she would be at the end of Fourth Grade. 

Currently she is in 7th grade Math, 7th Grade Science, 7th grade Social Studies (Geography), she is finishing up 8th grade Language Arts and is in 9th grade US History I and US Governement. 

She is digging deeper into Greece and Rome and Greek Myths with Moving Beyond the Page. 

Her electives include computer science, keyboarding, piano, clarinet, Spanish, French, Italian, Chess and Speech and Debate. 

All of this is driven by her with the exception of Math. She is not fond of the Math she is doing now and we will have to figure out why, but so far she is getting A’s in all of her subjects and loves them. 

Then add in exercise. 

And I am tired. I’m not even teaching, but trying to make sure she is fulfilled is exhausting. And she’s verbally gifted, so even though I am not teaching, I am learning every detail she is. Trying to figure out tools to help her achieve her dreams is daunting at times.

I love her for who she is and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it isn’t a walk in the park. Not when you couple the thirst of knowledge and drive with how she learns best and the lack of executive functioning skills. We are working on those. One day at a time. Along with the rest of life’s duties. 

I fully get why gifted children are considered Special Needs. The time required to ensure their needs are met qualifies them 100%. 

And there are many positives and I try not to miss them and count my blessings. 

That’s another post for another day. 

Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time. 🙂 

Student Led Learning, Homeschooling and Giftedness 

I’ve written many posts during our journey of learning about Giftedness and during our homeschooling journey. As I reflect on those posts, I want to make sure I clarify some things. 

I write posts based on my experiences. I know there are many parents that are struggling as I am and knowing you are not alone is a major relief and can make all the difference in the world. 

I know Giftedness is many different things and it doesn’t follow a certain set of rules or criteria. Unless someone is tested it’s hard to identify and some don’t test well, so they may not ever be identified. 

But there are some markers I may not have stressed well enough. And that is hard, because there are so many differences. 

There are different levels of Giftedness. 

Hindsight being 20/20, I would only encourage unschooling and letting a child lead if they are profoundly gifted. What does that mean? It means many things, but if I had to sum it up, it would mean they are 4 grade levels above thier age. 

Yes, there is asynchrony. But that means a child has different levels. And the lower levels shouldn’t be ignored. 

When I wrote my posts did I realize that my daughter was profoundly gifted and only a small range fit into that category? 

No, I didn’t realize, because it was my normal. 

So I just wanted to clarify for the sake of my conscious that my posts our are journey and experiences and are out there to help those who can identify with them. And I do realize now how small of a percentage that really is. 

But I would not want my posts be an excuse to not educate your child because they don’t want to do something. Profoundly gifted children can fill in the gaps on their own or in a time period that is not easily understood by others. It means comprehending concepts in a month or so that normally take a year. That isn’t something I would normally say out loud, but it is something I felt I needed to communicate. 

I am an advocate for gifted children and unidentified gifted children. But I would never want my posts to be an excuse to not educate children that need structure and need to be educated, even if they don’t want to. 

With that said, if any child has any ‘issues’ rhey need to be addressed and accessed. 

I do believe my posts reach those who can truly identify in many ways. However, I also wanted to make sure that my posts don’t enable anyone who thinks they may fit and ends up choosing a direction that is not in the best interest of their child. 

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