giftedness, intensity and unschooling - Mothering Forums
Unschooling > giftedness, intensity and unschooling
umami_mommy's Avatar umami_mommy 01:24 PM 06-26-2011

anyone have any resources for HS/US with a very active, intense always-busy-needing-to-do-something 4 year old? i am pretty sure 90% of her crazies is giftedness, maybe some might be some ADHD crap, but mostly she just needs to be busy.... but i am burning out with this kid, she wants (needs?) me to be ON all the time... from the moment she opens her eyes at 6:20 to the moment she falls asleep exhausted at 7:30. 



haven't found much about dealing with gifted learning-activity-social-butterfly sponges and unschooling. or even just plain old HS. 



SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 02:25 PM 06-26-2011

A border collie???lol (It sounds like the last thing you need is a hyperactive dog.)


I find our life is much easier when we have places to go and friends to play with. We have two kids and although that does increase the workload, at least our kids have an always available playmate.


I babysat a couple days a week (and didn't charge for it) just so my son would have a same age playmate. She is starting school now so we'll see how that relationship transitions.


We try to get together with homeschooling kids as much as possible. I eventually figured out that, for our family, building relationships with kids who will go to school means those relationship have an end date as their time to get together gets limited and tends to be the time we reserve for family time. Not 100% true, but as these kids are getting closer to school age I see that happening.


I don't believe in overscheduling, so I try to only schedule one event a day. Monday is a craft class through parks 'n rec, Tuesday is homeschooling park day, Thursday is another homeschooling gathering, Friday is storytime at the library. There is plenty of opportunities for play before and after all these events, but it really helps to just get out of the house. We also have a membership to the children's museum, botanical gardens, etc. Places the kids can explore and spin their wheels.


In the evenings we go swimming as a family or go for walks. Again, getting out of the house.


When our little one is napping, our son gets screen time. Right now he is watching a documentary about airplanes. He gets to watch documentaries or youtube--educational stuff. He likes How It's Made. For quite awhile he liked Betty Crocker cake decorating stuff, but that seems to have gone by the wayside. He's 5.5 and really talks about what he is learning--the physics of flying, the propellers on a helicopter, how to cut an avocado. Today we spent a long time reading through a children's encyclopedia together. We were reading about different kinds of machines. It's amazing to see how all of a sudden he seems to be craving learning about stuff. No indications he wants to read, but he wants facts.


At this age, I think the most important thing a child can do is play. Read "Einstein Never Used Flashcards."


Or read this article by Harvard professors on the importance of play:


So, playdates, playdates, playdates.


Plus arrange a bunch of really cool homeschooling field trips. Recently we toured a solar installers, a hydroponic research garden, the optics dept. at the university, etc.


And have LOTS of books about different subjects available. Either buy used or get from the library. I never know what or when my son will want to read. The encyclopedia he was reading today was someone else's throw out. We must have read it for 45 minutes. Because he wanted to.



umami_mommy's Avatar umami_mommy 03:03 PM 06-26-2011

yup, read that book. great stuff, eh? 


just to make the mix (and my stress) more interesting, i have an almost 9 year old who *needs* lots of self-directed alone time! nut.gif


yeah, we do all those thing, but i am to the point where i am starting to plan TWO activities a day! one is not enough. heh. 



she is going to a 1/2 day PK program just up the street from us in the fall. i love the building, love the teachers, and their focus is on socializing and self development, not academics. but i have to get through the summer first! 


i was hoping for resources about how to care for yourself, how to share your time, how to pace yourself and still meet your kids needs. whew. 

SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 06:00 PM 06-26-2011

Opinions and advice ahead, but unfortunately no resources:

From an "unschooling" perspective, more opportunities just to fit in with adult activities.  I am surprised at how seriously my girls take these things, and they look forward to it very, very much (I hear my eighth-grade English teacher docking 20 points off my grade for using "very", let alone two together!)  Something as simple as helping make the coffee in the morning (and getting to plug in the grinder!).  Flipping the pancakes over the hot stove.  My 4 1/2 yo gets right in there and makes the biscuits almost by herself.  They are each finding what they like best about working in the garden.  My friend's 4yo boy already is using a drill.  The girls love to mop the floor and operate the vacuum.  At a recent "Prairie Appreciation Day" they spent an amazingly long time operating a scotch-broom removal tool called an "extractagator" and planting native plant plugs.  Giving them adult things to do--not just playing while you work but working WITH you can fill up the day.  The rest of the day is spent reading and drawing, riding bikes, doing puzzle books and playing board games.  It takes a lot of surrender to invite them in to your activities.  

     Are they ready for it, and wouldn't it be more expedient to do these things by myself?  The answer is "yes" to both.  Half of the hard work can be put behind you if you can surrender a little to her need to be part of you.  In my opinion, unschooling demands that we open our lives to children--ours and others--to a depth that many adults would find burdensome.  First, if you carve out some time and say "I need to get this done and you can join me" either sends them off to play or gets them interested in what needs to be done.  This has been my experience, and how I have responded to things.

     As for pacing myself, so far I put priorities on everyday activities.  Other things fit into that mix.  I rarely do something that can't be interrupted unless DH is home, and have learned to not expect any one thing to ever get completely finished.  Oh, well. The girls are incredibly playful and resourceful now, but this was not the case even a few months ago and even now I need to be outside for them to want to be there.  They don't want me to play, just be.  Sometimes I garden, sometimes I sit and watch or read or bring out the guitars.  I can't believe how much work I've completed for this year's garden!  And now I actually have time to respond to silly forums on my computer!  

     I would guess that my girls are pretty smart, but even if I guessed they were gifted, I don't think I would things change much, like adding more "academic" activities.  They play "banker" in board games, do math and word puzzle books, and read and write on their own to varying degrees.  DD2 pores over guide books and studies bugs.  DD1 likes measuring things and learning facts.  But most of they time we play and play and play some more.

     (And...BTW, we do watch the tube first thing in the morning.)




SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 07:26 PM 06-26-2011

I agree on the helping mom and dad stuff. The other day my 5.5 year old was helping dad weld. He can also saute onions and is a big help in the garden. Even the 2 year old is starting to cut mushrooms with a butter knife. 


Now if they would just fold the

SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 01:40 AM 06-27-2011

Originally Posted by umami_mommy View Post

i was hoping for resources about how to care for yourself, how to share your time, how to pace yourself and still meet your kids needs. whew. 

Well, I'm pretty elderly to have a 2 year old and a 5 year old. (I'll be 50 in 13 months.) I'm old enough that I see my life in phases. There was the college phase, the working nights phase, the living on 10 acres phase, the marrying into a sudden family with a 6 and 8 year old phase, etc., etc. I am able to compartmentalize that I am in the living with little kids phase. Because I've raised a batch of kids already, I know that 6 and 8 are very different from 2 and 5. For awhile, my mantra was, "My house was clean at 6 and 8."


So I'm able to take a longer view of it. There will be enough time for "me time" in the future. I'll finish up this phase and will miss it so much. So, for now I just put one foot in front of the other. 


That's not to say that I don't sometimes need time for myself or want to do things that inspire me, I just don't fret on it too much because I know those times will come back.


However, this attitude may not be helpful to everyone. For awhile we had an arrangement where I got a couple hours away every Saturday afternoon. I went to a coffee shop and worked on a novel I've got in progress. It was great. Then life got in the way and I would choose to give up that time for some family need. (I've decided to put the novel on hold for a few more years.) Right now I'm okay with that. But maybe you could do that. Preschedule a regular, routine time for you to get away. Do something deliciously decadent.


When our kids were younger I was getting Williams-Sonoma catalogs. I almost never ordered anything from them. Way to expensive. Yet I would hoard each catalog and protect it to make sure it didn't get crumpled or torn. Then when I had that rare moment when both kids were napping at the same time I would pull out my catalog and savor it like contraband.


Is there something decadent you could do that you could sort of hide away until you had the rare chance to partake of its pleasure?



umami_mommy's Avatar umami_mommy 05:46 AM 06-27-2011

yeah, i am a bit "elderly" too. lol. i am 45. but sometimes i feel like this kid would kick anyone's ass! 


still searching for ways to take care of myself. balance is hard to find when i have two kids with opposite needs and a high needs DH!

4evermom's Avatar 4evermom 08:09 AM 06-27-2011

When my ds was 4, I thought it would be ideal if we lived in some sort of situation with more adults doing their own thing who were willing to have a "helper," people working on their car or doing crafts or gardening.  The problem I ran into when ds was 4 was that I couldn't ever set up interesting projects (that he would have loved) because he wanted constant interaction which meant I didn't have 15 minutes to myself to gather my thoughts and get materials set up.  I'd have liked to hire a teenage or college aged guy to come play with him (guys were better because they didn't feel like they had to parent or correct behavior or manners).  It's better now that he's older.


Up until age 4, I could get exercise by taking long walks with him in the stroller or chasing him on the playground.  Not my favorite (I'd prefer zoning mentally and dictating my own pace).  Now that he is on a 20" bike, we can bike ride together.  Again, not ideal exercise for me because his duration is shorter and he tends to stop and go more when I'd rather go my own pace more continuously.  Ages 4-9 were harder for getting exercise.  I've always made sure to prioritize my own sleep.  I've got chronic fatigue and I can not handle not getting enough sleep for long.  I'd nap when he napped when he was younger.  We go to bed at the same time.  It doesn't give me "me time" but it's important for my well being. 


I was also careful not to overschedule activities.  A big activity 3 days a week (every other day) worked out pretty well.  By big activity, I mean anything lasting a few hours or more out of the house.  Even though my ds was a hound for interaction and very social, he seemed to do better having days off in between things.  When I first took him out of pre-k, he wanted to do things everyday.  It took a little while for him to adjust to the every other day thing.  But he did.


I couldn't do much in the way of my own projects when ds was 4 but it's much easier now.  4 was the most challenging age and it has slowly improved from there.  Good luck finding balance!

Greenmama2's Avatar Greenmama2 06:32 AM 06-30-2011
DD turned 5 at the start of May and my gosh, 5 has been easier than 4 so far. Honestly, for us we did quite a bit of academic stuff at 4. It kept both her and I sane. I agree wholeheartedly about play being more important but it wasn't enough to keep us sane (and lots of playdates don't work for some kids, my DD gets overwhelmed and jittery if she doesn't have at least a day off in between). People talk about "filling their cup", well sitting down and watching her favourite shows with her or getting down and playing with her favourite toys doesn't fill DD's cup. At that age the fastest way to fill DD's cup was to do a page a Singapore earlybird with her. So age 4 was all about workbooks, she loooved workbooks for a while and we also started practicing violin daily. Again, that seemed to fill her cup faster than something that might seem traditionally unschooly.
The other thing that helps is lots of outdoor time. Lots and lots. DD is always calmer and more self-directed in play after moving her body in big ways.