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.

12 comments:

  1. It was a pleasure to work with you! Good luck :D

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    1. Thank you Jade. I want my friends to know you are out there to help!!! ;)

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  2. What a wonderful story. I love the idea of being Dr Who and dressing up to solve maths problems. My kids are always running around saying 'exterminate!' I might have to try this myself when the going gets tough. Thankyou.

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    1. Have you heard of the Traveling through History with Doctor Who FB group and curriculum? Son LOVES it. Sounds like yours might too.

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  3. I love this. I am in my first year of homeschooling and while I know I should follow his lead, and I WANT to follow his lead, sometimes I find it difficult to say, "Yes." Once I realize I am resisting and utter the word, things go more smoothly. It's a new mindset, really.

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    1. Yes Caitie. It's so hard to stop myself from controlling his education and what his learning should look like. It definitely helps me to have such a supportive group of GHF mamas! Good luck on your first year! Learn from my mistakes! ;) and thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Trying to comment for the third time. I hope this goes through. I find it imperative as a parent to two profoundly gifted children that I appreciate OEs and asynchronicity. I used to fall into the trap of pathologizing every quriky behavior but now I embrace all of it. As a radical unschooler and unconditional parent, we are living a completely free lifestyle where creative expression and intellectual stimulation predominate our days without being confined by societal limitations.

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    1. Amy, I am in awe with your unschooling and what your kids have achieved. It is so impressive! I love your FB group and will keep reading your blog for inspiration. Thanks for commenting here!

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  5. My son "guided" me through making what he calls "cetacea" puppets ( A Whale, dolphin, and porpoise laminated and colored on a popsicle stick.) He insists that I use these puppets when I "teach" him. If I ask him a question or ask him to complete his work using the puppet voices, he shows me what he really knows and will complete almost anything for me. If it's just plain ol' mom, it's a struggle to get him to write his name.

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    1. Shannon, I have another friend who does this for her G daughter and she swears by it too!

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  6. Thank you for a great post!
    Imagination played a vital role in our homeschooling -it enabled us to think completely outside the box, to problem solve, to envisage Utopian conditions and to use humour to get through difficult patches.
    I still love to hang out with Imaginational Dabrowski!

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