hi, my name is karen and have two bright and active boys ages 6 and 9. ds1 has been my challenge child since he was 3 and i have been on and off here searching for answers. well, i finally got my answer. this past school year was very eye opening. he has always been a model student. good behavior, good academic performance, etc. we had tried to get him into the local charter school in kindergarten and did not get in so we went to the local public school. after not getting into the charter school for 1st grade we were going to put him into a homeschool/montessori hybrid but found out he was getting an excellent teacher at the public school AND he had started developing important friendships so we decided to stay for 1st grade. that was such a great year we started in 2nd grade. although the teacher totally GOT my kid, he really didn't get an individualized curriculum and he started voicing frustration about how slow school was and why didn't his classmates pay attention and understand the lessons. they were keeping him from being able to do the cool stuff like science, etc because they would never get through the lessons as a class in time. he wanted me to home school him at the end of the year. he had asked at the end of 1st grade too and i figured it was because it was toward the end of the year and he was over it so of course home school sounded like a solution. at the beginning of 3rd grade we received his STAR test scores. he has always excelled in reading and language arts and I knew he enjoyed math. he scored a 600 out of 600 on math! i was shocked. the first 6 weeks of 3rd grade he asked if i would home school him again. i then knew that something was up. i went through the whole slew of questions to see if kids were picking on him, etc. he told me that school was too slow. why does he have to learn all the steps to solving word problems when he can figure it out in his head right after the teacher writes in on the board. so i explained to him that he needs to know the steps for when the problems get harder. but, with his math scores in mind i went to speak to his teachers. they responded favorably by pairing him up with another kid strong in math and they bought an enrichment workbook that he LOVED. however, all the other stuff was a bore, too. typically, i can tell things are not right at school by his monstrous behavior at home. so we spoke more about school and he was just bored out of his mind. he was enjoying it socially but not academically. so we then went to the principals and i requested they test him for the 3rd grade standards because i wanted to see where he was at in november. he missed two and those were brain farts! they offered to move him to 4th grade. my husband and i considered it carefully and chose not to. we chose to start school shopping instead and to see a psychologist who specializes in gifted children to have him evaluated and tested. after researching and visiting 7 schools and spending $2500 in testing and assessments we learned the extent of his giftedness. i honestly think i have been in denial his whole life. thinking the gap would close but it really has been getting bigger.thinking that everyone thinks their kid is smart and gifted, blah, blah, blah. i feel awful because i feel like i have not been nurturing his mind. i certainly do a lot for him, but not enough, i have to say. i am still digesting all the info we gathered from his testing. no wonder we have had such behavioral issues with this kid. can you imagine being an 8th grader made to go to kindergarten everyday?
currently my struggles are being able to keep him engaged and stimulated and challenged. giftedness isn't just in the classroom. it is 24 hours a day everyday. i'm exhausted. i feel we have stunted his ability to find ways to stimulate himself that does not involve the screen. i can't be conjuring up exciting things 24 hours a day and he needs to learn to conjure up his own that are safe and appropriate and not the screen. just this morning he was mad at his brother because he had so much energy but his brother wasn't wanting to play with him so he couldn't get his energy out. he is such an idea man, but lacks the drive to execute ideas. if things don't work out the way he wants them to at the time he wants them to he casts it aside. i encourage him to have an idea book so he can get them out of his brain and onto paper. he never does. i feel sometimes that he craves so much and more than i can give him. plus, i have another son who is no slouch either.
i think i jumped around, but that is things in a nutshell. hoping to find a community of mamas who are in the same boat or who have been and can lend some guidance. i feel very alone. in my real life community. hoping to find a niche with the new school for all of us.
thanks for sticking it out and reading!
Hi Karen, and welcome!
I'm Miranda, with four kids, probably all gifted.
Eldest dd is 18, was ID'd as HG/PG at age 14 after a lifetime of unschooling, upon entering the school system. She has been living and studying on her own for the past year. She's a classical violinist, well on her way to a performance career. Was always extremely intense, but with any negativity turned inwards rather than outwards in the form of problematic interpersonal behavior. Generally we found if we gave her boundless autonomy she did best.
Ds is 15, was ID'd upon school entry this past year. He is a little aimless: a gifted musician, but without much of a work ethic, also very into computer and tech stuff. He's dysgraphic and has some visual processing issues that have made music sight-reading a challenge for him. Doing very well in school. Sings bass in an amazing youth choir. Kind of a philosopher at heart.
Middle dd is 13. Has been in school for a year after unschooling prior to that; based on her siblings' track records she's been grade advanced without testing and is doing well. Somewhat underchallenged but happy. Has a life full of volunteer and extra-curricular stuff, including being the youngest member of the youth choir her brother also sings in.
Youngest dd is 9. My dream child -- easy-going, sociable, a people-pleaser, moderately but not excessively driven, low-intensity personality, humble and not afraid to try anything. She's good at almost everything, though not afraid to fail. Her point of reference is her older siblings so she doesn't tend to think of herself as a high achiever or a gifted kid. She's still homeschooling full-time and likely will be for a while as nothing less than 7th grade would challenge her.
I have all four of my kids at home this week for the first such time-span in well over a year. They're chilling together, reading satirical web articles aloud to each other, playing Apples to Apples, sharing photos and memories of their early years, laughing their heads off. Life is good.
I'm unclear whether your ds has ever been homeschooled for a year or more, and if so whether the behavioural issues were any different. I didn't do much to create academic challenge for my kids in their pre-high-school/homeschooling years, yet they didn't seem to suffer behavioural fallout. What they got through unschooling was plenty of freedom to self-direct, and they used that freedom mostly in non-schoolish pursuits. I didn't feel like I had to work to engage and stimulate them at all. If they needed stimulation, they created it for themselves. I've always felt intuitively that while boredom in a constrained environment (like school) can be quite toxic over the long term, boredom in an environment of freedom (like an unschooled home) can actually be a healthy and stimulating part of a child's life. It can be empowering, it can awaken new interests and passions, it can create the conditions for creativity and self-motivation. And it sure can make for happy kids. But it takes time to learn how to self-direct, self-motivate, to deal with one's boredom, to create opportunity out of aimlessness. It's not something kids can pick up and turn on over a weekend or even summer vacation.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Thanks, Miranda! We have not home schooled yet. We are starting the hybrid program this year and are really looking forward to it. So much more freedom. Traditional school so far seems to be more of a constraint. I always noticed that during breaks, he would have creative explosions. Drawing, playing piano and guitar, writing, etc.
My oldest is very intense. I must say, that the out of the blue crazy melt downs seem to have calmed down quite a bit since we decided to make a change. He is really looking forward to the new school and will keep in touch with his old friends.
I'm really tired right now and find myself zoning out. I will write more later, but just wanted to respond. Thanks for reading and responding:)