Today’s Thoughts on Gifted Ed and Homeschooling

We closed on old house this morning — phew! — and we were chatting with the buyers, talking about how we liked the house. My husband talked about why we unexpectedly outgrew it — couldn’t just buy a bigger house without really good reason! — and mentioned the homeschooling.

We hadn’t planned to homeschool, he mentioned, but our oldest daughter turned out to be — well, I don’t remember what he said. I remember closing my eyes, cringing, and putting my hand on his arm once I figured out where he was going. Of course he said nothing overly dramatic, said it in a very offhand way, but I was mortified to have it said in a roomful of strangers.

Mainly this incident demonstrates, yet again, that while I am far more outgoing than my husband, I am also a lot more private.

But it was also another reminder of (one reason) why we homeschool — not the bare fact that she is “profoundly gifted” or whatever, but because it is so much simpler just to deal with that on our own than to deal with the myriad reactions she and we get from others about giftedness.

Also today, I read a report on the No Child Left Behind progress of area schools. The “achievement gap” shows no sign of diminishing, and schools are turning more and more of their resources towards working on it. The reality is, school resources — personnel, money, books — are an ever-smaller pie, and as more attention goes to the lowest achieving students, less goes to kids like mine. Maybe that’s morally fair, maybe that’s good public policy at a macro level, but from a day-to-day educational perspective, it’s not going to work for us.

Of course our homeschooling lately is pretty weak! Thank goodness for Online G3, Life of Fred, and Chinese Pod! This keeps Violet going when nothing else is going on. And Victoria has started doing EPGY math. I started her on the 1st grade, but we’ll see. I am hoping the early lessons are more about establishing comfort with the program, because they are bizarrely simple. It is really nice to be able to give her some computer learning, as her sister gets so much. And it is not easy to make early elementary math very interesting!

We are clearly not going according to our early fall plans. Are you?

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9 Comments

Filed under Curriculum, Gifted Ed, Our Philosophy (such as it is), Schoolday Doings

9 responses to “Today’s Thoughts on Gifted Ed and Homeschooling

  1. Isn’t it funny how we cringe at the thought of saying those words in public. As if they are somehow boastful. And yet I know so many parents who are quite open about how smart and wonderful their children are. Usually, smart in these cases means good old-fashioned clever. Not weird way-out PG. 😉 I wonder if we had a better term for it, talking about it would be easier? People resent “gifted” so much, and I don’t really blame them.

  2. Definitely not! We’ve been on the road so much lately, I haven’t even figured out what our Fall plans are supposed to be. There’s a lot of learning going on, but I can’t seem to find time to quantify it for our state reports. On the bright side, at least we’re not holding these kids back from self-directed learning!

  3. Christine

    Your post is right on Shaun, especially in terms of the current targeting public resources. I wonder if one might feel this more profoundly (haha) in larger districts, because so far we’re making things work day by day teacher by teacher in our little district, although they are clearly focused on the low end. Still they admit our kids need more and make adjustments for them. It’s not perfect and I feel the tension every day, and the worst part is when I slip up and get comfortable and say something honest to an unsuspecting parent who is wondering why my kids do things like go to the next grade for math, do it online at school, or (heaven forbid) go to a charter school instead of our tried and true K-8. That’s what’s happening in our fall… so far so good, but we did have to email the math teacher at the new school last night to say basically — you talked a good game… when are we actually going to see some action. We shall see.

  4. inneedofchocolate

    I always hesitated to say the g-word out loud too. I have a hard time talking to other parents about school issues because I have different concerns with a gifted child and I find them impossible to explain in a way I don’t fear will be seen as bragging.

    If you find a good solution to the tedium of early elementary math, please let me know 🙂 My almost 6yo has shut down wanting to do any arithmetic because she finds the workbooks so tedious. She’s happy to do logic puzzles, analogies, work with fraction tiles, etc but rows of problems bring out the worst (best?) of her pretending not to know what she’s doing skills. I just ordered a different book for us to try.

    Otherwise, I’m reasonably pleased with how much of our fall plans we’ve accomplished. We haven’t done nearly as much as I’d planned but I knew that we wouldn’t and I knew I would go back and forth as I have on how much structure is the right amount for us.

  5. Nicole

    I dearly enjoy reading your blog. It has been my guilty pleasure for about six months now… A few stolen moments (usually while my 6yo highly gifted son is in the bath) when I can take a deep breath & exhale all the guilt, anxiety, & self-flagellation. Yea! There are more of us out there, experiencing this journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s better than a massage!!

    Nicole

  6. shaun

    Nicole, you are so kind, thank you for commenting! I know very much what you mean about finding other parents out there on the same road — it has been a lifesaver!

  7. I, too, avoid the g-word, but I will tell people who ask why we homeschool that he is “really, really advanced intellectually”. Maybe it sounds like bragging, but actually I don’t get the sense that people take it that way (and of course, I don’t mean it that way!). Sometimes they will then say something about grade-skipping, and rather than get into a discussion of how he learns completely differently from other kids, and how I don’t think that would help, I just say something like he’d have to jump too far ahead and he’d be too much younger than the rest of the class. I really have not gotten any negative responses or even vibes (not to my face, anyway!); people generally seem to sort of understand and sympathize with the dilemma. If the conversation continues much beyond that, I usually take the opportunity to bash NCLB (more or less tactfully, depending on the response I’m getting!). My husband is an elementary school teacher, and he *hates* the way his job is almost completely about preparing kids for standardized tests. He has so many great, creative teaching ideas that he hardly ever has time to implement, because there’s always another state test in some subject or other that’s just around the corner. And of course, if his kids don’t do well on the tests, he’s in major hot water, so that’s what he’s forced to focus on.

    As for the math, if it stays ridiculously easy, contact EPGY and ask them to move her ahead in the course. Just be careful with it–they moved George ahead and he missed some explanations about long division which I then had to make up for! So have a conversation with them about what’s coming up and make sure it’s stuff she knows.

  8. I wonder if things are generally different in NY. There is a very strong Midwestern ethos of staying with the herd — I do it myself. I have heard more than one parent tell me that their kids are average and they like them that way. Part of that equalizing tendency is an obsession with guaranteeing that all kids do the same things. Obviously there are lots of exceptions, but I think that is the default culture.

    When I went to grad school I was totally freaked out by people from east and west coasts who talked in class all the time, pursued relationships with professors, and generally tried to advance their careers. Where I came from that was shameless self-promotion. It took me a while to figure out that, with a few notable exceptions, these were actually intelligent, reasonable behaviors. It’s no surprise that I did not pursue an academic job very seriously and have always worked for myself!

    Also, I sympathize with a teacher in NY. Of course it was many years ago, but my siblings grew up and went to school in upstate NY, and even before NCLB the state had very firm statewide standards with lots of testing. At the time, parents seemed to like it — like that proved how rigorous the NY schools are.

  9. I just found out about G3 a few days ago and hope to enroll my dd in at least one course this spring. Are you both enjoying it? I’d love some feedback before we enroll. 🙂
    Dana, drleeds at sbcglobal dot net

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