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Monday, November 17, 2014

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: a Community for Asynchronous Learners




“Am I gifted, Mama? I don’t think I’m gifted.” 


I was editing the 10th anniversary video for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum and didn't realise my son was intently watching me at work. I didn’t know how to respond to this. 

“I don’t know sweetheart. We haven’t tested you for giftedness, but I do know you are an asynchronous learner.” 


His latest standardized test results came back with the largest gap between the lowest and highest subject grade equivalents yet: NINE whole grade levels. Who knew a child’s learning could be so irregular!


Check out other posts for this month's GHF Blog Hop here:
http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blog-hops/finding-community/


Even when my son was 2 years old, I felt challenged by the way he learned about the world. I struggled to find someone who could help or understand my situation. While one local homeschool support group leader laughed in my face at the preposterous thought that my 4 year old could read Magic Tree House Books on his own and had completed Kindergarten Maths, the GHF community embraced me and helped me understand that I was not alone. 


I love what my colleague at Building Wing Span says, “One of our goals at GHF is to help parents find ways to reach their kids.” If you are a parent interested in homeschooling, educating your children, gifted/2E issues, and/or parenting in general, GHF is a wealth of information and a sensitive, caring community. It is easy to see how we manage to reach up to 300,000 people a week all over the world. 

Thank you Gifted Homeschoolers Forum for all you do. 
Happy 10th Anniversary!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Finally Learned How to Control My Time on Facebook

   

  
“You are on Facebook… AGAIN?!?” my husband and son would complain.

My responses were:

1.     “I need to check Facebook for work and homeschool info. OK? Stop bugging me.”

OR

2.     Not wanting to be caught red handed, I’d quickly click out of Facebook and pretend to be on another app when I heard footsteps coming my way.

I knew Facebook was a growing problem when I’d regularly check my News Feed every couple of minutes while:

-         homeschooling my son,
-         eating dinner with my family,
-         watching a movie with my husband, and
-         trying to go to sleep at night.

It may seem like such a harmless act, but in reality, I was constantly distracted from the people and things I needed to focus most on in my life. I joked that Facebook was my only social life outside my family, therefore I needed it. In reality, Facebook was my time sucker. Instead of being in control of how I used it, I began to feel manipulated by how I needed to use it.

So, it was time to change things around.



1.     I stopped checking my News Feeds and all of my other Feeds.

2.     I started to rely on my Notifications instead. I made sure I got Notifications for important “stuff”: posts from close friends, family, pages and groups I enjoy or count on for information.

3.     Instead of browsing my News Feed, I now sift through my Notifications and click to open posts that may be of interest.



4.     I limited my posts on Facebook to one a day. I enjoyed my recent http://100happydays.com/ of posts. It was interesting to me that I became even more careful and deliberate about what I had to say.

5.     Instead of superficially LIKING every post on my News Feed, I started having conversations with people because I made more of an effort to COMMENT and REPLY to posts that meant something to me.

6.     I started to send more PRIVATE MESSAGES to friends and family, which connected me to them more personally. I started to join more Facebook GROUPS for more meaningful messages and posts.

7.     I now choose to interact on Facebook with people who have LIKED or COMMENTED on my personal or group posts/pages.

8.     Outside of Facebook, I found an amazing group of homeschool friends. We meet once a week and that fills a void I never thought was there.

9.     I discovered a new hobby: knitting. I have knitting projects lined up and I want to do them NOW. My hands have recently been too busy to sift through Facebook.


10. I also joined http://nanowrimo.org/ this month. I’m not writing a novel, but I am writing something everyday in hopes I have ideas worthy for my blog.

I am now able to control and manage how I interact on Facebook. Suddenly, it feels like I have a lot more time on my hands. I feel more productive. Even better, I’m truly able to be present in the moment. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Play Their Game






“Put that down please. We don’t play games before we do school! Remember: SCHOOL before PLAY!”

My son’s face was a mixture of anger, displeasure, and shock.

This Mama gave in. “OK. What do you want to do on your tablet?”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragons-rise-of-berk/id667461862?mt=8
His face lit up. “Mama! My dragon is about to hatch! I’ve been waiting since last night to see it. I also want to check on my fish to make sure their filter is clean and they have food. I’m afraid they might die. I also want to check on Tom because he needs to go potty, eat and sleep.”

WOW. Reliable and responsible. “O.K. That’s a lot. Let’s see what needs to be done, but I want to start school in 15 minutes.”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-pond-2/id498375421?mt=8

Son, husband and I checked his apps together and I realized my son has been hard at work building a Viking Village and faithfully caring for his various creatures. While I was trying to figure out how to teach him innate motivation and a willingness to take on independent projects, he was already progressing on his own, without my help. I decided that instead of berating and discouraging him from his tablet games, I was going to make sure he had a set time every morning to train his dragons, feed his fish, and care for his cat. In fact, husband and I have downloaded a few of the same apps too. Checking on our various tablet realms at breakfast has become a family affair that has brought us even closer together.

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id657500465?mt=8

By breaking my “school before play” rule, it gave me the opportunity to admire his choice of games, his maturity and sense of responsibility. By doing things my son enjoys and loves to do, I have improved my relationship with him by enhancing our quality time together.

So, if you can't beat them, join them! Sometimes, it's SO worth it!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Recognizing Imaginational Overexcitabilities in Our Homeschool

 
“You are fourth to fifth grade now, so you better act your grade. If you’re not mature enough to take it on, then we're going to have to go back to second grade work. OK?“

I was so pleased with myself that my son knew what the expectations were for this homeschool year. I had the curriculum lined up. I was ready for him to move on to higher learning. And I was convinced higher learning included maturity, self-control, and the end of pretend play while learning. No doodling, distraction, nor imagination overload while we homeschool.

Well, all this Homeschool Mama got was a few weeks of utter frustration. I was saying “no” and "stop doing that" all day long. Son and I were butting heads and our loving relationship was deteriorating. I became grumpier by the day. And he was highly negative and unmotivated. 

I contacted Jade Rivera, who works "with families and educators to discuss the characteristics of gifted children and develop strategies to best serve their educational needs and social-emotional development." We set up a private session immediately.

“So, it sounds like your son has imaginational OE.”

“What’s OE?” a very awkward moment for me since I’ve been working at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum for a few years. I really ought to know the acronym for overexcitabilities, but I never thought my son had any. 

"Do you allow play while he does school?"

“I did, yes. And now, sometimes... but why does he need accommodations or distractions from school work? He has to learn how to conduct himself appropriately. I mean, if he were at a real school, he'd need to sit quietly and do his work. Isn’t it a negative thing to give kids a crutch all the time?”

Without missing a beat, Jade responded “It is harmful to take away these accommodations because it’s like pulling the rug out from under them. They need these to function better in the real world.”

Oh $#|+!!!! I knew that! Then why did I become so focused on the results of this homeschool year and forget about the dignity of my child? I quickly researched imaginational overexcitabilities like a mad woman and found they described my kid to the T. 

So, this is what he enjoys: playing Keyboard as Superman, Spelling exercises as Doctor Who, Dress-Up History and Lone Ranger Math.

After saying "NO" to any dress-up this semester, today I said "YES". I even decided to join Doctor Who in the fun. I pretended to be his assistant, Amy Ponds, helping him save the world one Math problem at a time. He usually whines that he hates Math, but he got every problem correct, without dragging his feet and without my grumpy intervention. At bedtime, he said this was the BEST part of his day.

Giftedness: why does it matter? It matters because recognizing these qualities in your children will help you understand them better. You will be able to support their needs and interact with them in positive ways. Instead of being stunted and/or belittled for the need of extra accommodations, they will be able to grow exponentially.

Monday, September 01, 2014

For When I Forget Why We Love Homeschooling


STRUGGLES

I struggle because my son’s goal is to attend boarding school at some point. I want to make sure he has the credentials to be accepted, when and if he wants to go.  

I struggle because I have an A-type need-to-tick-things-off-my-list personality.


I struggle because for so many years, my son was leading our homeschooling. I still had Kindergarten materials for him when he was already a few grade levels ahead. Now that I’ve caught up and bought "quality" curriculum for his actual grade levels, he doesn’t seem interested in them.
from The Independent Kid

CATCHING MYSELF

When I catch myself accusingly ask my son “Why can’t you do this?!?”

When I roll my eyes and shout, “Why are you SO slow?!?”

When I find myself frustrated and exasperated at my little drummer as I press his hands down on his desk to stop…

I need to STOP MYSELF. I need to scold myself “For goodness sakes, he’s only 7 years old!” and to remember to smell the roses. I want his homeschooling to be a success, but I also want him to love the process. I guess I’m not the Tiger Mama I thought I was afterall.


So, I've made a list for when I forget why we love homeschooling:
  1. I need to challenge my son just at his level, not above, nor below.
  2. Homeschooling means I can create an individualized education for him to suit his interests: he is not a boxed curriculum.
  3. My son loves learning, and I can and will support that pursuit.
  4. My relationship with my son is built on tender loving care, not needless criticism, stress or pressure.
  5. We have the freedom to enjoy quality time together EVERYDAY: cuddles, giggles, laughter, slow and unstructured time together.
  6. I have the power to create a positive homeschool environment for my son. That power needs to be used wisely before 7 years passes and it will be too late.
I'll be putting aside History of Us for now and we will be Traveling Through History with Doctor Who. Guess who's going to love doing school!

P.S. After Lesson One, I found my son's entry in his grateful journal:



Resources:

Are You Ready to Join the Slow Education Movement?
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum
Why You Should Want Your Kid to Be a Slow Learner