I truly believe that the best way we can educate our gifted and twice-exceptional (2E) kids is through homeschooling with self-directed learning and unschooling.
Self-Directed Learning vs. Unschooling?
Self-directed learning is a self-motivated pursuit of knowledge not based on a required set of circumstances but learning for its own sake. Using an unschooling approach to learning simply means that activities and lessons are not structured or required.
Children constantly learn through their interactions and experiences with the world around them. Many families find that creating their own flexible homeschool and allowing their kids to be the driving force in their learning is the very best educational option for our above-average kids.
Self-directed learning and unschooling is better for gifted and 2E learners
Our kids aren’t cookie cutter, why would we think a one size fits all of educating will fit them? An example might be a kiddo who loves math and excels ahead of his same-age peers but is also struggling with reading. We could encourage his reading through the “strewing” of picture books about math, making them available for him to discover. This would likely be more interesting to him than a remedial reading curriculum.
A lot of gifted kids are energized by making “dive deeps” into areas of interest. In our family, there is a genuine need to go into detailed study! Just because measures like tests or projects show mastery has occurred doesn’t mean our kids are done with learning about the subject. With self-directed homeschooling, limits are easily removed in open-ended learning at home; there is no timetable to follow. By exploring those tangents, our kids are motivated to learn more in depth and with greater passion.
The benefits of self-directed learning and unschooling point to just how good it is for gifted and 2E kids.
There’s a confidence that comes to children when they have buy-in to their learning. Self-directed learners are motivated in their learning and hesitate less to investigate new things.
More flexible learning gives us a way where overexcitabilities and asynchrony are less of an issue. Home is a safer environment in which to learn strategies to handle differences and adjust behaviors. Homeschooling parents are readily available to give our kids the support they need if they’re asynchronous. Scaffolding can provide for areas where our child might struggle, so that they can continue to learn and create at their level. Take for example the child who has difficulty with handwriting, but who has a great imagination and concocts wonderfully imaginative stories. Allowing her to dictate her story to a parent to record is a way of giving her space to explore her talent as a “writer” while supporting her as she works on penmanship.
Unschooling benefits the whole family by creating space to create.
Grace Llewellyn explains, “You don’t need a schoolteacher to get knowledge – you can get it from looking at the world, from watching films, from conversations, from reading, from asking questions, from experience. When you get down to it, unschooling is really just a fancy term for ‘life’ or ‘growing up uninstitutionalized.'”
Unschooling gives us more room to explore interests and have wonderful life experiences in the safest of environments, within the family, those relationships will always be their very best teacher. Important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, fostering authenticity and lifelong learning take time and attention which we can adjust and focus on while we homeschool.
Ultimately, as parents of these “outside-the-box thinkers,” we learn to trust our children better and respect their learning needs. All kids have an intrinsic desire to learn and create; but our kids tend towards MORE of everything. In self-directed learning and unschooling, we can be our kiddos’ greatest champion, cheering them on to becoming the very best people they can be.
Families who already use self-directed learning and unschooling provide support and encouragement.
This week’s podcast episode is a conversation with Robyn Robertson of Honey I’m Homeschooling the Kids. She shares the background of her unschooling family and makes an important analogy of self-directed learning as being a journey we travel on with our entire family. Some of the ideas Robyn and Colleen share in this episode are:
- Travel together as a family in your learning, even if everyone is learning about different things.
- Keep going back to knowing why you’re doing it and adjust as needed.
- Experience life together, share stories as a family. This will cause you to build connections through these shared experiences.
- Take field trips, have family projects, attend independent classes and enrichment programs, enroll in online courses and exercise programs, and leave room for a lot of personal time. If the individual wants to pursue a formal class, that can be unschooling as well!
Links and Resources from Today’s Show:
- Sponsor: The Anxiety Toolkit by Colleen Kessler / Raising Lifelong Learners
- Honey I’m Homeschooling the Kids podcast with Robyn Robertson
- Robyn Robertson’s website, I’m Homeschooling
- Robyn Robertson on IG
- Robyn Robertson on Facebook
- Contact Robyn Robertson
- Homeschool Resources from Robyn Robertson’s website
- Styles of Homeschooling series on Instagram (Unschooling)
- Homeschooling Styles (series on Robyn Robertson’s website)
- RLL #30 Andrew Peterson: Being Students of Our Children
- RLL #68: Self-Directed Education with Peter Gray, PhD
- RLL #76: Creating the Adventurous Family with Rachel Rainbolt
- Interest Led Homeschooling and Your Gifted Child
- 101 Reasons Eclectic Homeschooling Works for Gifted Kids
- RLL #96: Finding Learning Opportunities with Dennis DeNoia
- RLL #92: Building Self and Setting Goals with Suki Wessling
- RLL #80: Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School? with Blake Boles
- RLL #40: Self Directed Homeschooling High School with Trevor Kessler
- The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling
- The Unschooled Version of a Seventh Grade Curriculum
- From Homeschool Student to Homeschooling Mom
- Homeschooling and Unschooling Resources from the John Holt GWS
- Trusting the Unschooling Process for Gifted Learners: Getting to the Light at the End of the Tunnel
- The Learner’s Lab | A Raising Lifelong Learners Community for Gifted / 2E families
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