Gifted kids are asynchronous.
Their development is uneven and out-of-sync compared with age peers. This often makes them feel very different when it comes to age-based school expectations. This is also why boxed, or grade-level based, complete curriculums rarely work well for them.
Instead, homeschooling parents of gifted children need to get creative…
It’s hard to talk with others about giftedness and what twice-exceptional means, because unless a parent lives with it, they just can’t fully get it. As a former classroom teacher and gifted specialist, I told parents all the time that I’d be able to help advocate for their kids’ needs in the regular classroom. And I tried.
And then I had my own profoundly gifted son, and my whole paradigm shifted. Now, I believe that homeschooling is best for gifted learners and that it’s important to consider your child’s learning style as you begin homeschooling.
Let’s chat, though, about asynchrony and what it means for your gifted learners. Got gifted kids in a public or private school instead of at home with you? This is for you, too. You need all the tools you can get to help advocate for those precious kiddos. Classroom teachers — and even many gifted intervention specialists — just aren’t going to be able to do it as well as you can.
Consider this example from a few years ago in our homeschool:
Based on his age, Trevor would have been in a fourth grade classroom or using a fourth grade curriculum if we had gone with either of those routes. Instead, at that time, he used All About Spelling Level 2, and worked on writing simple paragraphs along with letter formation and spacing, and he read just above grade level.
That year, he completed 5th and 6th grade math simultaneously as he bounces between Teaching Textbooks on the computer and Math Mammoth workbooks. I also gave him problem solving tasks and logic problems from several Prufrock Press books I own that are geared towards middle school students. Science-wise, we tend to learn about whatever I’m writing or researching at the time, or whatever topics have piqued his interest. Because of this, he immersed himself for days, weeks, or months at a time (and still does) on specific topics, which fosters an incredibly deep sense of understanding commensurate with high school or college leveled students depending on the subject.
When I was a kid, I finished whole books in under an hour, completely comprehending what I was reading. He is like that with LEGO sets and models. It takes him an hour or less to create or build most things, and he has an almost insatiable thirst for more, increasingly difficult, engineering tasks.
Like most gifted kids, he’s all over the place. In a regular classroom environment, asynchronous kiddos like my Trevor — and your little one, perhaps — struggle without proper modifications being made to their curriculum. But, how is that even possible? In the scenario above, his teacher would have needed to teach him 2nd grade language arts, 5th grade reading, 6th grade math, 4th grade social studies/history, and middle/high school science. Completely impossible with 20 other kids to think about.
Along with the varying levels of asynchronous learning, we know that kids like this learn differently. They need constant change, lots of movement, and tons of hands-on challenges. Again, tough to do with so many other kids around.
I’ve already made a case for why I think gifted kids learn best with the atmosphere and attention homeschooling can provide. Asynchrony is just another reason homeschooling works well for these kids.
But how do you meet these incredibly varying needs? Simple, really…take your cues from your child.
- Take into consideration, first, his learning style. Make that your focus as you research and ask friends about different curriculums available.
- Then, look at your kid’s strengths. You know him best. What is he excelling at? What are his passions? What does he struggle with or dislike? Make a list of your observations.
- Use online placement tests at the different curriculum publishers’ websites to determine your child’s level in each subject for which you are looking to purchase a curriculum. Or, just go back to basics, grade-level-wise:
- Do a placement test for math and order the curriculum level you need.
- Use a spiral notebook to create a conversation journal between you and your child. Write to him each night and have him answer you in the morning. Use his letter to pinpoint his needs regarding sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, handwriting, and writing ability. If you see something glaring that needs work, look online and order a program or workbook that seems to match his needs. Otherwise, gently correct him by modeling the skills in your letters.
- Read aloud exciting books several grade levels above his. Talk about what’s happening.
- Provide him with a constant supply of books related to topics of interest. Talk about what he’s reading or have him do a project or report about it.
- Try some of the ideas related to his learning styles from the descriptions yesterday.
- Do some fun science experiments, visit museums, and read stories together set in historical times.
Okay—I know it’s not really simple. Finding different curriculums and projects to meet unique needs in different subjects is much more challenging than opening a box with everything laid out for you.
The most important thing, though, is to make sure that you are teaching your kiddo to be a lifelong learner. The desire and validation to seek out that which your child is most interested in learning about.
That’s what builds homeschooling success. It’s what makes a rich life.