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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DH and I are both "gifted," and it appears that DD is as well, from what we can tell at age 2. Her spoken verbal skills are in line with a 4 or 5 year old. She knows her alphabet and can count to about 15. She can also sight-read and spell about a dozen simple words. She can't write, though. The fine motor skills aren't there. Her over-riding interest is in animals. The kid can explain to you with scientific precision the lifecycle of the butterfly, as well as which dinosaurs are "friendly" (aka herbivores) and which ones aren't.<br><br>
Emotionally and socially, she's very much a 2 year old.<br><br>
She's asking to go to school, which isn't going to happen. However, we would like to work a little "school" into her day. Our childcare provider is an au pair, whom we adore. She has the equivalent of an AA in early childhood education in Holland. We just have to come up with some good homeschool activities for them to do in a structured way, and she'll do it. Right now, they spend their mornings at various play groups and story times, and I don't want to change that.<br><br>
DH and I seem to be having some differences about what this time should look like, though. He wants something very traditionally school-like, and I lean more play-based. I'm sure there's room for compromise, and I'd love to hear any of your suggestions. I'm thinking something that would take up an hour of their day max. Are there good homeschool curricula for gifted toddlers?
 

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This is my not-so-humble-opinion.<br><br>
There's no better way to kill curiosity and destroy a love of learning than to formalize it. Over millenia, humans have shown time and time again that when there is a compelling reason to learn, we can soak up an incredible amount of knowledge.<br><br>
So far, your daughter is very verbal, and has picked up the alphabet and some sight words without any formal training, if I'm understanding you properly. There's no reason to believe she won't continue along, absorbing like crazy, if she just continues to live life.<br><br>
One of my favorite "education" quotes comes from Anne Sullivan, who was Hellen Keller's teacher.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience."</td>
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/soapbox
 

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We've had a lot of luck creating both structured activities (mostly for our homeschool co-op) and play activities (at home) out of materials from <a href="http://www.forsmallhands.com" target="_blank">www.forsmallhands.com</a>. It's a Montessori-based site and it's pretty easy to take some of their books and toys and create your own experiences with them.<br><br>
We also do a lot of playgroups and social activities in the mornings, and then when the kids want to experiment at home, we have a handful of projects ready to go and enough supplies that we can create projects off-the-cuff. Arts and crafts are always popular, especially paint, ooblek, modeling clay...the more tactile, the better for our 2-year-old. He also really likes Break Time, where dh takes something electronic apart and then they either play with the insides and then put it back together or turn it into something else. We have a mini keyboard that now sounds like an electric guitar and can be played a little like one. Last week they took the face off a speaker and danced different objects (sesame seeds, quinoa, wooden beads, an orange, etc.) on it, turning the volume up and down to see what happened. For the record, the recorded stories of Winnie the Pooh had the most oomph, but Utah Saints got the seeds dancing faster. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Kumon makes some fun workbooks that littles can get into. I didn't know about them when our oldest was 2, but our now-2-year-old enjoys the maze and tracing books, and there are a couple different versions of each. It's a fun way for him to gain fine motor practice so he can do all the things he wants to do. Right now that's writing a few letters upside down in chalk on the driveway. He's been trying to write letters for a while and was getting really frustrated that he knew them but couldn't form them.<br><br>
The Oak Meadow kindergarten and first grade curriculums had some good ideas, too. Technically you're supposed to go in order through all the lessons in order to get the most out of it, by their definition of what you're supposed to get out of it, but I found using it more loosely worked better for us. It means not making the most of the philosophy, but I mostly wanted it for some of the approaches and ideas; they combine well with other activities and approaches we've been taking. In general I think we're a little too unschooly to follow a curriculum the way they're meant to be followed.<br><br>
Mostly we take ideas from various curricula and our own experiences and create a flexible grab-box of activities to pull from when the kids ask. Your mileage may vary, but if your au pair is comfortable with that, I think that kind of flexibility will work best for following a 2-year-old's rhythms and interests. At this stage, there's really no need for a formal progression of lessons in any way. But it can definitely be helpful when you find yourself running to keep up with your kiddo to have a variety of projects on hand so you can follow their interests. One day it might be animals, another it might be writing letters. Another it might be watching videos and vegging out. Let her lead, it sounds like she's doing a great job thus far. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>2xy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13269644"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This is my not-so-humble-opinion.<br><br>
There's no better way to kill curiosity and destroy a love of learning than to formalize it. Over millenia, humans have shown time and time again that when there is a compelling reason to learn, we can soak up an incredible amount of knowledge.<br><br>
So far, your daughter is very verbal, and has picked up the alphabet and some sight words without any formal training, if I'm understanding you properly. There's no reason to believe she won't continue along, absorbing like crazy, if she just continues to live life.<br><br>
One of my favorite "education" quotes comes from Anne Sullivan, who was Hellen Keller's teacher.<br><br><br><br>
/soapbox</div>
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See, I agree with you. But I'm not her only parent. I think there's a way to meet DH's goal here without going too formal, ykwim? I'm trying to come up with something learning based that will happen at the same time every day.
 

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What if you tried some montessori activities at home. It might be a bit of a $ and/or time investment putting the materials together, but I think it might be a good compromise for you and your dh. Montessori activities are playbased and the child chooses what to work on, but each activity has specific learning goals that would make it feel more like "school" to your dh. Plus the activities are designed to progress to in difficulty level. I think children your dd's age usually start with things like practical life (pouring, transferring, washing, folding) and sensorial work (the pink tower, color tablets), but you could also mabe stat some of the beginning math work. I'm just starting to learn more about Montessori myself so I'm no expert, but there are a ton of blogs about doing montessori at home and you could check out the montessori board here on MDC.
 

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One thing you will find is that her finger strength/fine motor skills will be that of a 2 year old, and that will inhibit her ability to convey herself with writing. It's equally important to address fine motor skills as well as any academic learning.<br><br>
But you can do both and it is much more fun for the child that way.<br><br>
The more art projects and working with fine motor activities (stringing beads, working at an easel (promotes upper arm strength), rolling play-doh into worms and making letters with play-doh or rolling a pea sized piece in between her finger and thumb, picking up coins on a table, etc) she has, the better she will build those skills.<br><br>
You can always incorporate learning in playing games:<br><br><br>
Here are some ideas that we've put together at home for my toddler (who's now a preschooler):<br><br><a href="http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/early-enrichment-activities/" target="_blank">http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/...nt-activities/</a><br><br><a href="http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/our-montessori-activities/" target="_blank">http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/...ri-activities/</a><br><br><a href="http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/math-and-creative-preschooler-art/" target="_blank">http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/...eschooler-art/</a><br><br><a href="http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/preschool-math-at-home/" target="_blank">http://growinginpeace.wordpress.com/...-math-at-home/</a>
 

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Well, after DD asked me repeatedly, we began "homeschooling" when she turned three. Typically, we spend an hour reading a book on a topic (usually of her choice); I write a related word and she traces it, then practices writing a letter on her own; and we do a related art project. I also try to work in some sort of math-related discussion.<br><br>
It's funny because these are all things we do anyway. But I think DD loves it so much because it's an hour a day where she has my total attention, and she has some structure (which is NOT the case in our household otherwise).<br><br>
My opinion in your situation is that if your daughter is already going to a number of semi-structured activities in the morning, she probably doesn't need any more. She certainly doesn't _need_ any "educational" activities, particularly if she is already picking all that stuff up without them. The last thing you want to do is to burn her out.
 

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Have you asked your DD what she knows about going to school, and/or what excites her about the idea of going to school? I just wonder what it is that SHE wants more of. Like if she wants to learn about different topics, you could talk about getting library books, taking "field trips," etc. If it's reading more together, you could do that... If it's hanging out with more little kids, you could facilitate that <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<a href="http://www.sonlight.com/p34.html" target="_blank">http://www.sonlight.com/p34.html</a><br><br>
My DD started formal homeschool at 2. It was what SHE wanted, and it worked GREAT for *us*.<br><br>
Here are the rules we followed: we worked WHEN *she* wanted to, for as LONG as *she* wanted to. No pushing, EVER. If she wanted to 'work' for 10 minutes, it was 10 minutes. If she was in love with a topic, we could be at it for 3 hours.<br><br>
I called it 'Child-Led Learning'<br><br>
We used resources from Kumon, Singapore Math (the 'Earlybird' series), Explode the Code, BOB Books, and our curriculum from Sonlight Homeschool. I have included a link to their earliest preschool program, at the top of this post.<br><br>
Sonlight is 'Christian', but not overtly so. The bulk of their books are secular, but still traditional morals, which most parents (regardless of religious preference) would like their children to exhibit (honesty, kindness, respecting others, etc.). There are usually 2 books or so (out of 20) that are overt --- clearly, it is simple to just skip those.<br><br>
We liked Sonlight because it is literature based, covering a wide range of topics, and does not require writing in the first years. It is engaging and 'fun', with a plan to follow that is open to defined structure (or not) as is appropriate for your child/situation. One other plus is that their kits are 'all-in-one', including lesson plans/ideas, and all the books used (great time saver).<br><br>
You are welcome to PM me if you have any specific questions.
 

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With my 2yo ds1, I schedule a "project" for us to do each day which is his learning time. One day we might make cookies or playdough, another we'll work on lacing cards, the next we'll melt down old crayons to make new ones and color with them, the following day we'll count or sort objects, then we'll do an exploration using magnets, and the day after that we'll trace letters in sand on a cookie sheet.<br><br>
He asks to go to school, I think, simply because he sees other kids doing it and wants to, so if I found that I formalized his "learning time" and had one simple project per day, he was satisfied. That being said, I'm trying to save/earn some $$ to send him to our local Montessori this fall because I think he'd really thrive there (trust me, as a teacher, I'd love to homeschool him, but I think his temperment is more suited for the M school).
 

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I was going to suggest the Sonlight preschool program, but I see that someone has beaten me to the punch. It might seem more "school-y" to your DH, but you can be assured that it's really just more read-aloud time, which, as far as I know, every parent can get behind.<br><br>
I would also suggest a membership to a local children's museum, if you have one. Your au pair could plan a weekly visit, because gifties can often get into several levels of activities, if you go often enough.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Bird Girl</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13274194"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would also suggest a membership to a local children's museum, if you have one. Your au pair could plan a weekly visit, because gifties can often get into several levels of activities, if you go often enough.</div>
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My children LOVE the CM. One good benefit is that museum memberships are usually reciprocal (read: FREE <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> ) to many other children's museums AND science museums. For example, I have used my membership at the OUTSTANDING Science Museum in Boston, MA, the Science Museum in Duluth, MN --- the one in Chicago, AND also at the Science Museum in Dallas, TX. This is a nice feature, especially when visiting out of town w/kids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I will definitely check out SonLight. The more I think about it, though, the more I would like to emphasize fine motor skill development with these "lessons." Real life stuff, which is my parenting style anyway.<br><br>
When I ask her why she wants to go to school, she says 1. to read books and 2. to see my friends.<br><br>
And here's the real rub: DD goes to storytime/music class/playgroups pretty much every day. They go to the park every day that the weather permits. They go to the Y to swim about once a week. Collectively we (DH, me and the au pair) read her about a dozen books a day. DD is (clearly) happy and thriving under this arrangement. DD watches about an hour of TV a week max; the exception is when someone is sick. DH seems bothered by the small amount of downtime (aka Rini plays independently while the au pair kinda vegges on the couch) they take each afternoon, but I really don't see any benefit to loading up more activities on them. I think free play and rest are *important,* not wastes of time. This is kinda driving me nuts, but I can't just discount his perspective.
 

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Has your husband done any reading on child development or giftedness?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Not really. Nor will he, unless I specifically direct him toward something and really press the point. He tends to see things through the lens of his own memory of being an understimulated gifted child. He just wants her to reach her full potential; it's not coming from a bad place.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Herausgeber</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13276564"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Not really. Nor will he, unless I specifically direct him toward something and really press the point. He tends to see things through the lens of his own memory of being an understimulated gifted child. He just wants her to reach her full potential; it's not coming from a bad place.</div>
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I wasn't suggesting it comes from a bad place <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">. I've had to reassess my preconceived notions about giftedness and parenting, and to look at my kids as independent individuals who are being reared in a different context than I was and who have different styles/needs than I did.<br><br>
I would really recommend this book:<br><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FParents-Guide-Gifted-Children%2Fdp%2F0910707529%2Fref%3Dsr_1_3%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1235844704%26sr%3D8-3" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-...5844704&sr=8-3</a><br><br>
Those peaceful do-nothing moments are when creative energy can flow. Don't underestimate the power of "doing nothing" sometimes! Often enough around here, my kids will rouse themselves and come to me with "You know, Mom, _________" and tell me something that boggles me.<br><br>
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”<br>
Plutarch<br><br>
I think it's about finding the right balance for each kid, between providing them with a stimulating environment that's right for them, and allowing the freedom to self-actualize.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Herausgeber</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13276291"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think free play and rest are *important,* not wastes of time. This is kinda driving me nuts, but I can't just discount his perspective.</div>
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YES. They are incredibly important. Your DH shouldn't just discount your perspective either. And it sounds like your DD does a lot of the stuff your DH considers to be important, but not much of what YOU consider to be important.<br><br>
I think your DH needs to consider that under-stimulation is not really the problem for gifted kids. And it is certainly not a problem for your DD. Gifted kids can find engaging, educating things to do all on their own. The problem really comes when gifted kids have their abilities and interests actively suppressed. I.e., when teachers and parents force them to stop thinking/playing/learning and do busy work instead.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>no5no5</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/13276675"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">YES. They are incredibly important. Your DH shouldn't just discount your perspective either. And it sounds like your DD does a lot of the stuff your DH considers to be important, but not much of what YOU consider to be important.<br><br>
I think your DH needs to consider that under-stimulation is not really the problem for gifted kids. And it is certainly not a problem for your DD. Gifted kids can find engaging, educating things to do all on their own. The problem really comes when gifted kids have their abilities and interests actively suppressed. I.e., when teachers and parents force them to stop thinking/playing/learning and do busy work instead.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nod.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nod"><br><br>
I also wonder if your DH is reflecting on being understimulated at school, at school age. Toddlers/preschoolers are natural explorers and following their lead is a great way to encourage them to maintain their natural ability/inclination to learn.<br><br>
School's a whole other matter.
 

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There is also a lot to be said about imaginative play and role playing as well. You can't teach imagination and creativity you have to experience it first hand.<br><br><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514" target="_blank">Old fashioned play builds serious skills</a><br><br>
"It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline".<br><br>
During these moments of unstructured play, children are able to better develop private speech - talking to themselves about what they are going to do.<br><br>
"If we look at adult use of private speech, Berk says, "we're often using it to surmount obstacles, to master cognitive and social skills, and to manage our emotions."<br><br>
"Unfortunately, the more structured the play, the more children's private speech declines. Essentially, because children's play is so focused on lessons and leagues, and because kids' toys increasingly inhibit imaginative play, kids aren't getting a chance to practice policing themselves".<br><br><br><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=76838288" target="_blank">Creative play makes for kids in control</a><br><br>
"While it's true that leagues and lessons are helpful to children in many ways, researcher Deborah Leong says they have one unfortunate drawback. Leong is professor emerita of psychology and director of the Tools of the Mind Project at Metropolitan State College of Denver. <b><i>She says when kids are in leagues and lessons, they are usually being regulated by adults. That means they are not able to practice regulating themselves.</i></b>"
 

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And one more article, because I was reading it and thought of you:<br><br><a href="http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-serious-need-for-play" target="_blank">http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=...-need-for-play</a>
 
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