Homeschooling a possibly gifted child? (*Long, I'm sorry*)
***This got really long, I'm so sorry in advance, especially this being my first post and all but thank you for any advice, or for just listening, because I don't know where to go/who to talk to****
I'm new to this forum, but have been lurking for a little while. I'd like to talk to someone that isn't in my friends/family, and someone who probably knows a little more about this than I do.
I know this question arises a lot, though I guess I have trouble with deciphering what is normal and what is not in regards to my son being a gifted child. He just turned four a couple weeks ago. He was always "ahead" as a baby- he learned to walk at 8.5/9 months... he could count to and backwards from ten by a year old and could count to ten in English, French, Spanish and Russian around 2 years old (he still can, though I rarely bring it up to him anymore).
He knew his shapes and colors and letters by about 20 or so months, as well. I'm not sure when he learned the letter sounds... I remember teaching him some of the "simpler sounds" like A, B, C and M... I'm not sure where he picked up the rest. Maybe an ipad game he has, or from me reading to him. I don't recall the exact age he began talking in real full sentences, but sometime before his little sister was born, which was when he was 23 months. His language was always really interesting. For example, he always would repeat the questions when answering. Like, "Would you like some milk?" He would respond, "Yes, I would like some milk."
At 2.5 years he seemed to have quite the attention span for things of interest, for example, he would sit through an hour long history channel documentary about monster trucks, which he was obsessed with for sometime, and could later rattle off facts about them and all the names of monster trucks. He was OBSESSED.
He has always been unusually quiet and observant. Sometimes when we go to the beach he just stands at the edge of the water and stares at the waves for, like, 15 minutes. As a baby he was always quiet, always just staring like deep in thought, or just spacing out? He also has always had sensory problems, he doesn't like the look of stringy things, (if there is cut up spaghetti "hanging" off his spoon he won't eat it, or "hang-y type of seaweed at the beach he is afraid of) he is terrified of piles of dead grass from lawnmowers and has serious anxiety about walking through them. He's always had weird ticks similar to that. Additionally, he's highly emotional. Often over emotional. For example, we drove past the playground yesterday that had only one boy playing at it, by himself, while his dad sat aside on a bench. Roman became incredibly sad asking "why doesn't this boy have any friends? Why is he all alone?" Close to tears.
Trouble started when I sent him to school. My children being multilingual has always been really important to me, so I sent my son to a french/english bilingual speaking preschool in September (he was 3 yrs, 3 months) which, now, seems like a mistake. At first it was fine. After about a month, sometime in October, we were having dinner and Roman held up 1 finger on each hand and said "Mama, 1 plus 1 is 2." I was like, "Yes! It is! You're learning that in school?" So, then I started practicing at home with him, playing adding jellybeans and gummy bears, etc. He did great for a while.
Come January, he started having a lot of problems at school. He did not progress much socially with classmates (a concern that had been addressed in November, as well). He got along with everyone, but preferred to be by himself. He also would not do tasks he was capable of. His teacher explained, "I will ask him to bring me four marbles, and he will bring me a handful." I responded, "That seems odd. We've been practicing addition, subtraction, patterns, counting at candies and blocks, etc. He can add numbers up to ten, so I know he can count out four marbles."
She responded "Oh, don't even DO addition with him. Addition and subtraction are just way too complex for a 3 year old to understand." Confused (What about the 1 + 1 thing at dinner a few months ago? Where did that even come from, if not from school?? Let alone he's been doing addition with me the past couple months) and discouraged, I didn't want to be "one of those moms" so I said didn't pursue it.
She also addressed concern with his writing. By the end of the year the preschoolers are expected to be able to write the numbers "1, 2, 3" And I explained, "Well, surely Roman can do that. He's been able to write his name for months. I've never seen him write numbers, but if he can write all his letters, surely he can write numbers, too?" He had been writing since around november-ish, again this meeting was in January. She suggested he was behind or had "behavior problems", and taking him to the doctor, which really freaked me out, because I don't like doctors at all.
I was really frustrated, and not sure what to do. I knew he could do the work, but I didn't know why he was pretending he couldn't. Also, I noticed the more I asked him to do work at home, the more he'd pretend to not be able to.. like, practicing writing his name, he would deliberately make random scribbles and say "this is just what I can do." Then I learned to back off with the practicing, and just pulled him out of school all together in March. It got to the point where he started throwing tantrums and crying ever morning before school.
Now, at four, he likes playing starfall.com learning to read once in a while, but overall has lost a lot of interest in doing any kind of math, reading books, etc. that he used to have. It seems he is capable but doesn't like me asking him. Now I've just stopped all together with the "treats if you do some math with me" and let him just do what he wants to do. Lately he's taken a strong interest in jellyfish and how rust is formed with iron/water, asking about all different metals "will this rust? does this have iron in it?" or accordingly pretending to be an "ephyra" or "polyp" (premature, baby jellyfish), words he just learned.
I'm going to be homeschooling him in the fall, as I'm really discouraged to send him back to that school, or any school for that matter. He doesn't like to be tested on his knowledge at all, and it makes me really afraid to send him to school. Also, I don't want to get him tested for gifted with a doctor or anything. I brought up to my boyfriend (his dad) that I think our son might be gifted and he literally laughed at me and said, "no, he's not." When I brought it up again, he told me I was obsessed and to stop. Hence the reason I don't want to talk about it with any other family members.
What do you make of this? Are any of these things above average, bright, gifted? Part of me thinks they are, or I wouldn't be here, but another part of me is unsure and I don't know what to go off of. And if he is gifted, what is the best way to move forward with him as far as a homeschool curriculum? Do I just let him guide me with his interests and go from there? I'm on the fence about whether I'm just crazy or not, and I want to start putting together a curriculum this summer to start in the fall.