School Choice Week – Homeschooling as a Choice for the Twice-Exceptional Student

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When I was a child there was not too many choices available to my parents when it came to my education. There was a Catholic private school in town, but my parents never even thought about sending me there. Instead they sent me to public school just as their parents sent them. And there was no hesitation or debate about whether this was a good match. They simply did not have much choice in the matter and that was that.

These days parents have so many choices in regards to just about everything, and though this can feel overwhelming at times, in the area of education it is a blessing. Children  and teens have such unique needs that finding the best environment to meet their needs is half the battle when it comes to their education. And this is especially true when you are thinking about your twice-exceptional child. Because these kids have struggles and disabilities they need to be in an environment that is equipped to deal with these issues. And because they are also gifted, these students need to be in an environment that will allow their passions and talents to soar.

When it came time for me to start thinking about my own children and their education I knew I wanted something different for them than what I had. I struggled in school. I had anxiety and some learning struggles that were never addressed while at the same time I felt bored over and over again with what we were learning. My education left much to be desired and I did not want my kids to have those same feelings.

I am lucky that I discovered homeschooling before the kids started school. When I first heard about homeschooling I had no idea what exactly it would entail or if it was something I could do, but I knew I wanted to try. And this was at a time when the internet was starting to take off so I was able to find the resources I needed while also connecting with other homeschooling parents.  This was 18 years ago and though there was not as much resources available as there is today I knew this was the right choice for my kids. They soared with homeschooling and had such a joy for learning that I never had. It was wonderful to see.

If you are struggling with finding a good choice for your 2E student you may want to consider homeschooling. There are many reasons this path is a solid choice for your child, and I want to take a moment to go over them in case it may help someone considering this option.

  1. No one knows your child as well as you do. You have been raising them from day one and by know you know their strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will help you every step of the way in their education.
  2. One-on-one instruction. Gifted and twice-exceptional children work best one-on-one and in a homeschool environment this is possible. Even if you are homeschooling more than one child you will have time everyday to work individually with each child. If you have a house full of young children, as I once did, you may not have a great deal of time to devote to each child, but even little moments of one-on-one time throughout the day go a long way.
  3. Less time needed for actual seat work, more time for passions and therapies – At a traditional school much time is wasted throughout the day because there are so many children in a class. At home actual school work can get finished quite quickly especially while your children are on the younger side. This leaves more time for a child to explore their passions whatever they be. It also allows for you to schedule in any therapies that may be needed.
  4. Homeschooling choices abound! – Just as you chose to homeschool, you also get to choose your method of homeschooling. There are so many choices and each method, from unschooling to classical schooling and everything in between, have both positives and negatives. With homeschooling you can try each method out until you find the one that is right for your child and yourself. In school the child must follow whatever method the school follows. At home this is not the case. If you don’t know what approach might be best for you here is a quiz you can take.
  5. Curriculum choices – Just as there are choices in homeschooling approaches, there are choices in the curriculum you use (if you choose to use a curriculum). When I first started out there was not as many choices but today, with the explosion of the homeschool market, there is so much out there. If you decide on a math curriculum and your child struggles with it, do more research and pick up a different program. This is a great benefit to the 2E learner as often one curriculum may not work but another does. If you don’t know where to start the Well Trained Mind forums are a wonderful place to get information on all that is out there. One word of caution – Sometimes as homeschooling parents we are tempted to hop from curriculum to curriculum trying to find that perfect match for our child. There is no perfect option and jumping around too much can have a negative impact on your child’s schooling. If you find something that is working fairly well my advice is to stick with it.
  6. Pacing, it’s your call – In homeschooling there is no set timeframe for work to be completed and this is great for 2E kids. If your student understands and is excited by a topic they can work through it as fast as they want so as not to become bored. On the flip side, if your student is struggling with a concept or subject they can spend as much time as needed on this topic. For instance my youngest son is very asynchronous in his schooling. For language arts he needs something that is at a high level and that is engaging. With math though, he struggles greatly. We have been working through pre-algebra for a long time. Seriously it’s been almost two years. And at times, as a parent and educator, this has been frustrating, but at the same time it is what he needs. And by putting on the brakes and pausing for review, he has not felt like he is a failure (which I am sure he would have felt in a traditional school setting) and he has been given the time to understand what he needs to know. Just recently he has made big leaps and I can see he will be ready for algebra in the fall. I am thankful that I have been able to set the pace in his schooling. It has been one of the biggest benefits for my asynchronous learner.
  7. Cheaper than private school  –  Homeschooling is a wonderful model for asynchronous learners and although a private school may be able to provide a solid education to these students, homeschooling is much more affordable. This is a real benefit to those who are on a tight budget. You truly do not need to spend thousands of dollars on your child’s education to get results.
  8. Proven record – Homeschooling works. It has been around long enough that we can see the benefits. Homeschool kids are engaged, both in their school work and often in their communities. They are self-starters and out-of-the-box thinkers. Homeschoolers are sought after by colleges and often thrive when they get there. If you have the time to devote to homeschooling you will see results.

So if your 2E/gifted child is struggling in a traditional school setting and you are researching choices, I would highly suggest that you look into homeschooling. Likewise if you have young children and are just beginning to think about their schooling I would also recommend homeschooling. It is a great choice for many and one that should be considered by all parents of 2E kids.


If you are homeschooling or will soon be homeschooling a 2E or gifted child feel free to join AHA! on Facebook, a group supporting homeschooling parents of asynchronous learners.

Homeschooling – A Grandparent’s Point of View

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Special guest author – Jill Kimbrough, my mother, and homeschool grandparent extraordinaire.

I have eight grandchildren five of which are homeschooled and three of which are in public school. They have all blossomed, each in their own environment, and are continuing to find their place for the future. However this article is for the parents and grandparents of homeschoolers. I hope this helps.

When my daughter asked me to write an article on homeschooling from a grandparent’s point of view, I guess I was somewhat prepared for her request. I’ve been on the periphery of homeschooling for 12 years by observing her. Had she asked me this a few years ago my take on it would no doubt be different. This year, this week in fact, my opinion is this: I’m jubilant. I’m jubilant because I can see what has taken place, I can see the journey they’ve made, I can see the outcome. I’ve come from being wary to being envious of my children and grandchildren; envious of my children for being brave at a time when everyone thought they were crazy and envious of my grandchildren because they have a superior education with a full grasp on classical studies, languages, technology and the arts. That’s not to say I always felt this way. It hasn’t been the catastrophic outcome that I imagined in my head when my daughter informed me that she was going to homeschool her children.  I probably did say something like ‘You’re going to do what?’

Like most people my age I came from a public school setting, as did my children, so when my daughter informed me of her decision to homeschool I was curious and scared at the same time. The only thing I knew about homeschooling was from an article I had read a long time ago in Time magazine of a homeschool family living in California who had successfully seen their children enter high ranking universities, one being Yale University. Who knew that years later we would also be living in California and homeschooling would be a part of my lexicon?

Homeschooling began for three of my grandchildren at preschool. Since I lived close by I could clearly see the struggles and successes they were having. It was an adjustment for everyone, as starting any school sometimes is. At the time that this was going on with my daughter in California, my son and his wife in Indiana were thinking about doing the same thing. They finally made a decision to pull their children from public school and bring them home to teach them in a less stressful atmosphere. Their oldest was anxious in school and the youngest got lost in the shuffle of a crowded class room. It worked for both families. As I look back, I think I did some kibitzing, but I also learned a lot: homeschooling doesn’t take all day when you’re only schooling a few children but covers a lot of learning. It fosters respect and relationships with others, it allows time to discover a passion and, with a diligent teacher/parent, it opens doors that one didn’t know existed!

So here are some offered suggestions on how to be a relaxed and supportive homeschool grandparent; a list I wish someone would have made for me during some handwringing and sleepless nights:

1) Do yourself and your child a favor and trust that they know what they’re doing. We are smack dab in the computer age where it is so easy to gather information and facts about any subject and, additionally, to find classes for highschoolers outside the home, and later, to research colleges that are homeschool friendly. My granddaughter has already begun this process and, along with her mom, has visited a few universities.

2) Don’t start comparing your homeschooled grandchildren to other children, perhaps to your peers’ grandchildren. Remember that children grow and mature and learn at different rates.

3) Ask your daughter/son if there is any subject you can help with-you’re not a grandparent for nothing.

4) Offer to teach a class in knitting or wood crafting or any talent you might have, even if it’s teaching your grandson or granddaughter how to write in cursive or how to cook. Any skill passed on from grandparent to grandchild is a skill worth having.

I took my grandkids to my painting studio in Laguna Beach to teach them about art in general but also to just have coffee and talk. I got to know them a bit better and they got to hear funny stories about when I was in school. I also was asked by my grandson if I would write a Scooby-Doo story. I did and that was several years ago and so began a bond that is still ongoing. Who knew that Scooby-Doo could bring a grandma and grandson together? Time spent with our grandchildren is time well spent, as they say. The bounty to that is your child and your grandchild will love you for taking the time and you’ll love that you discovered something about them you didn’t know.

5) If your grandchild has any kind of learning disability, however small, trust that it will show up and be caught by the homeschool parent. These parents are working with their children every day and will notice issues just as easily as any school would. And a homeschool parent can address many of these learning issues or other disabilities in a home environment because there are so few students. One-on-one attention goes a long way.

6) Finally, and probably what I have heard the most from family members and friends of the parents who homeschool, stop worrying about socialization of the homeschooled child! There are so many homeschool groups and classes out there where they can gather with their peers and yes, socialize! When my oldest granddaughter was a teen I had the opportunity to take her to park day many times where she gathered with her friends. As a group they would go to the coffee shop nearby or just hang out in the park and talk, sharing ideas and planning other get-togethers. And, as I have learned over the years, there is a plethora of online communities for these kids too.

This is an opportunity for you grandparents out there to buckle your seatbelt and start this adventure! Enjoy the ride whatever stage your grandchildren are at. I’m doing that now: I just got back from a trip to Europe with my daughter and her children to visit my son and his family. I may not have envisioned this adventure when my grandchildren came into the world, but it is an adventure I would have never wanted to miss

Homeschooling the Twice-Exceptional Student – There Will Be Gaps and That’s OK

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This young man is incredibly creative. He makes movies, writes stories, animates, composes, records original songs, and works on other creative endeavors all day long. He is never idle, never bored. My son works from the moment he wakes up, which is usually before 7:00, and stays busy until around 10:00 at night when he finally tires out and heads to bed. Sleep usually comes an hour later when his mind finally calms down.

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Most days I am in awe of all he does. It really is amazing. But it is also incredibly frustrating, and at times, overwhelming and tiring to watch. Traditional school work falls to the way side often, and when he can settle long enough to work on academics, it usually doesn’t go the way I imagine. Math is an exercise in frustration, reading hurts his head, and handwriting practice is painful. Science can be fun, history is mostly boring, but analyzing literature is a favorite. He usually has the energy to concentrate on academics for no more than 2 to 3 hours a day, a few days a week.

This is what I am working with, and I can never forget it as I homeschool him. My son is not going to school in any sort of traditional matter, and I have to remind myself of that often. He is a twice-exceptional student, and things are different for twice-exceptional kids. Their paths look different from other students. Their days look different.

Parents who are homeschooling 2E children and teens need to remind themselves of this often otherwise they may end up feeling like they are failing their children. There will be areas where their student may be behind (for my son it is math) and other areas where they have no interest at all. There will be gaps along the way and as homeschool parents we have to learn to let these gaps go because there will be other areas where they are working so enthusiastically, so passionately, that they do not have time for it all.

I have to remind myself that what my son is doing is significant (even with the gaps) and that he will find his own way. His path may be different and atypical but it is also unique and meaningful. He is creative and productive and confident and happy. And in the end isn’t that all that matters?

————————————————————————–Are you homeschooling a twice-exceptional or gifted homeschooler? Are you looking for support? If so please join our new Facebook group for 2E homeschooling parents here and follow our Facebook page here. Thank you!

Keep Calm and Homeschool On

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For many homeschoolers the fall signifies the start of a new school year. For some this will be their first time homeschooling their children while others have been at it for a long time. Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, we have some tips for you to follow to ensure a smooth and enjoyable school year:

  1. Give yourself time to get in a routine – If you have never homeschooled before it will take time to figure out a routine that works for you and your children. If you have homeschooled before but took a summer break it will also take a little time to get back on a schedule. Sometimes it is hard for children to adapt to get used to a new routine. Other times it is hard for the homeschool parent to adjust. Whatever the case, give you and your children time.
  2. De-school – Completely new to homeschooling after a traditional school experience? You may need to de-school. If you have never heard of this term don’t fret. It simply means that children need time to switch gears between a traditional school experience and a homeschool experience. The parent may also need time. Homeschooling is a whole different ballgame and giving yourself a few months (the recommended time is one month per year in school, if you took summer off you may not need to take as long) to adjust and to switch gears may help.
  3. Start slow – Don’t try to hit every subject and activity you have planned on the first day. Ease into your new homeschool routine and start with only one or two subjects or activities before adding more. Take a few weeks or even a month to get up and running at a full pace. This will help you stick to your plan and will guarantee that you and your students are not overwhelmed by all that needs to be done.
  4. Don’t stick too long with something that is not working – Excited by a curriculum you picked out or a study you planned and then find it is not working for your student? Did you schedule a class or activity that your child does not like? Keep at it for a while to see if you can make it work, but if you are still not feeling the love after a few weeks it may be time to drop it and find something else. Don’t worry too much about it and don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes our best laid plans simply do not work.
  5. Don’t curriculum hop – On the other hand you don’t want to go from one curriculum to the other spending money when you don’t need to. Many of us veteran homeschoolers have made this mistake and spent more money than we care to admit. That’s not to say you can’t change curriculum when needed, just try not to do it too much in one year.
  6. Find a support group – Whether online or in your community, a support group keeps you connected to other homeschoolers. Because homeschooling can sometimes feel like an isolating experience, having other homeschooling parents and children around you and your family can help you immensely on your journey. Other homeschoolers can encourage you when you need it, provide feed back on curriculum and/or your school plan, and bring resources to your attention that you did not know about. Homeschool groups also provide the chance for your kids and teens to connects with other homeschooled children in a meaningful way. If there is not a homeschool group in your area consider starting one or try searching for other local homeschool families in an online support group.
  7. Get out of the house – Take a field trip, have a park day, visit a museum, go to the library, go out to lunch. If you are having a bad day or are just in need of a break then leave your routine behind and take your children out into the world. One of the benefits to homeschooling is flexibility, so don’t feel tied to the house or your routine. Dropping everything and getting out in the community is sometimes the best thing you can do.
  8. Have fun – Sometimes we as homeschooling parents get so caught up in the schooling part of our role that we forget to let loose and enjoy our children. Yes you will have bad days, yes you and your child will sometimes feel frustrated, but always remember that your relationship is the most important part of this journey. Make time to laugh, to cuddle up together with a book, to play games with each other, to make discoveries together and remember through it all to have fun.
  9. Celebrate – Homeschooling is as valid a choice as traditional schooling so acknowledge what you are doing. Take first-day pictures, share your and your children’s accomplishments with others, and have an end-of-the-school-year party. Also recognize your own role in this journey and reward yourself with a day off, a trip to the bookstore, or a night out. Homeschooling is hard work, so celebrate that hard work from time to time.

Looking for an online support group for you and your family? We at SEA support Secular, Eclectic, Academic homeschoolers online at our Facebook group. We have active members all over the world for you to connect with. We also have free online book clubs for tweens and teens that will be starting up in September, and we would love to have your homeschooled student join us.

This post was originally posted at SEA Homeschoolers – Keep Calm and Homeschool On.

Slow start, strong finish

This picture is from September 2009. It is one of the first pictures I ever uploaded onto TAD Town. It is a picture of my oldest working on his math which at the time was basic fractions. He was 10 years old and in fifth grade. In sixth grade he would complete pre-algebra, seventh algebra, eighth geometry, ninth algebra 2, and tenth pre-calculus. That is a good, strong math progression and yet in fifth he was just happily doing his fractions in chalk in our backyard.

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My daughter is working through several AP classes this year, and she is a very strong student especially in writing. We did not use a formal writing curriculum for years, and overall started very slow in this area. She would write what she wanted when she wanted. When she was younger this was mostly in the form of a journal entry or short stories that she would write. We worked on a few formal programs starting in seventh and eighth and completed Writing with Skill in ninth. By tenth she was writing numerous essays for her AP classes, and this year she is writing essays daily. She has become an extremely strong, creative, and capable writer who enjoys the process.

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My point with these two examples is to show that starting slow can work. I touched on this idea previously in this post, but I wanted to discuss it once more as I see more and more homeschooling parents scheduling massive amounts of work for their young children. It is my belief that this is not necessary at all, and in some ways I find it to be counterintuitive. If you have high goals for your child once they are in high school and college that does not mean you have to start worrying about those goals when they are elementary or middle school aged. This only creates stress for the parent and takes away from the joys of childhood and self discovery for the child.

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This is not to say that we did no formal schooling when they were younger because we did. What I am trying to convey is that one can be formal in their studies but do so in a very relaxed and informal way. Academics took no longer than two hours all through the elementary ages for my kids. Middle school became a little more intense, and the kids probably averaged about three hours a day on academics. We never did academics five days a week, and I always made sure they had plenty of free time to discover their own passions and to just be a kid. Whether they were playing outside for hours a day, listening to audiobooks for days on end, or messing around on their computer, the kids had plenty of free time to do what they wanted.

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Slow to start has been very successful for us. The twins now spend hours upon hours a day working because they want to. They have very specific goals that they want to attain, and they feel up to the challenge. They are not burned out from long school days and hours upon hours of school work from when they were younger. Nor have they missed out on any essential skills necessary for the work they do today. Instead they were able to learn these skills very quickly at an older age rather than trying to grasp them when they were younger and not prepared physically or emotionally.

Slow start, strong finish.

Homeschooling in the Late Teen Years – Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

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This year the twins has been a transition year for my twins. They matured a great deal this year, and they began to think about their future. It is wonderful when your kids begin to take on more responsibilities and when they start to think about their own future. After being the one in charge for so long I happily pass on the responsibility to the twins. It is a wonderful transition made even more wonderful because the twins are very intelligent and very responsible. I don’t worry about their decisions too much (can any parent not worry at all?), and I enjoy hearing about their plans for the future.

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In September of last year the twins decided to apply to Bard College at Simon’s Rock. They were not 100% sure if they wanted to go there, but they were intrigued with the idea of early college. They applied, which was an adventure in itself, and much to their surprise they were accepted. They also received merit aid and need-based aid which was great, but they would still have had to take out loans. They weren’t 100% sure that they were ready for early college so far away from home, and Tru wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take on student loans at such a young age. They spent some time thinking it over and ultimately decided that they weren’t ready for college yet.

After this the twins toyed with the idea of starting community college next fall. I went to community college early, and they thought maybe they should do the same. In California going to community college early is a very good option for homeschoolers. The twins thought this would be a good idea, and they started to plan out where to go and what classes to take.

At the same time they weren’t too excited about this option. The twins have very specific goals for their future, and they both were unsure whether this was the right path for them. I tried to stay out of their decisions and let them find their own path. This was not always easy, and I admit that I spent some time worrying about them and what they would decide, but in the end they made the right decision for them.

And what was that decision? They decided to enroll with Harari College Worldwide full time this year. Last year my daughter took a few classes from them, and my son took one class towards the end of the year. The classes were intellectually stimulating and challenging in a good way. In addition, the online community of Harari has been great for them, and they have connected with other teens all over the world.

And what is their ultimate goal? They would like to study in Europe, and Harari is one of the few schools we have found that will help them meet that goal. Hopefully in two years the twins will be on their way to university in Europe and happy with the decision they made this year. Either way, at this point, I am enjoying watching them grow up and make very adult decisions about their future. I am happy that they have each other in this process, and I am grateful that they are mature enough to make these decisions. After twelve years of homeschooling them I finally feel like I can relax a bit and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Creativity Runs Wild

At TAD Town we often take breaks in our homeschool schedule when it is needed. Whether it is for an illness or just a mental break, I try not to stress if our schedule does not match a typical school schedule. After all a flexible schedule is one of the many benefits to homeschooling.

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This kid here was in need of a break from academics after a hard year of working. We called it a year in April, and he has been doing his own thing ever since. His days have been consisting of writing, audiobooks, cooking, mini-fig making, drawing, and song writing. Basically he has been using all his free time to be creative.

This is one of his songs that he wrote last month. Somehow the twins and I have gotten it stuck in our head, and we are all walking around the house singing “I Googled it. ” It has been very entertaining to us.

And this is a sped up video of one of his digital art works he did. The boy is starting to become very interested in working on his drawing skills especially on the computer.

Here is another picture he did.

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The boy has also discovered the world of custom Lego minifig making. This, along with baking, has been his primary area of pursuit these last 6 weeks. He has been watching how-to videos on the process and then perfecting it on his own. The only thing he needed for this was Sculpey, acrylic paints, different sizes of paint brushes, and toothpicks. The process of him learning how to do this has been very interesting to see. Boiling Sculpey mini-figs in my kitchen was not something I ever envisioned doing, but it has been fun to see the boy work so hard on a project.

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We have also been baking quite a bit together. I will admit every time he sends me a complex recipe online I am not exactly thrilled about it. I don’t find the joy in baking that he does, but once we start cooking in the kitchen I do find joy in being with him in the moment. Baking brings him so much joy, and it is wonderful to see that.

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Basically he has been having a wonderful mental break these last six weeks or so. We will most likely start up with academics again sometime in June. I know when we get back to it he will be ready for our routine and excited to be back in the swing of things. But in the meantime the boy is also enjoying his free time, time where he can follow his passions and work on all things creative.

Teacher Appreciation Week

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the homeschool parents out there who work hard educating their children. You have done a great job of teaching your kids this year, so it is time to pause for a moment and appreciate all the hard work you put into their education. Treat yourself to some chocolate, take some time for you today, go shopping, sit at a coffee shop, do whatever makes you happy. Enjoy!

A Glimpse into Schooling a 2E Kid – Italian Scooby Doo

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Some days are very hard when it comes to homeschooling a child who is twice-exceptional. There is the learning disability that makes quite a few things difficult. There is the anxiety that can get in the way. And then there is the high intelligence and passion that makes things so very interesting. It takes a good deal of patience and understanding to school a child like this. I feel I do a fairly good job of it because I have a so much experience homeschooling and because I had many of the same struggles when I was younger.

The youngest boy’s days look very different from the twins. They were/are fairly academic and hard workers, so their day reflects a more typical school day. The boy’s day reflects more of how an unschooler’s day might look and for him I think this works. It allows him time to follow his passions, and it is through his passions that he learns.

For instance, one of his passions for a very long time has been Scooby Doo. He loves the books, the tv show, the movies, and he knows everything about the history of Scooby Doo. Because of this passion he has been writing Scooby books for years (which he is soon going to publish online) and collecting Scooby Doo books. He has grown quite a collection, and some of his favorite books to collect are the Italian Scooby Doo books.

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Unfortunately he never has a good way to translate the books, so he could read them all the way through. Last week though he found out that Itunes was carrying the Scooby Doo Italian books to buy for the iBooks app. From there he discovered an easy way to translate them all, and within a few hours, the boy had purchased several of the books and translated them all. Then he read them all, which was quite an experience for him.

He couldn’t believe how different they all were from the American Scooby Doo. Of course he realized that some of these differences could be put down to translation, but after reading several of the books, he could tell that was not the only reason for the difference. The topics were different (including one plot dealing with plastic surgery), the personalities of the characters were different (Fred comes off as mean), and there was cussing throughout the books. The boy got such a kick out of the differences and really enjoyed reading them all.

Of course being a very passionate kid, he was not yet done in his study of Italian Scooby Doo books. He was unhappy that all the books were not available yet on iTunes, so he has been researching how to write a letter to Itunes and to the Italian publisher, so he can let them know how he feels. And he has started to write his own Scooby Doo Italian book. This book is in the style of the Italian books and includes a slightly weird plot line, the different character traits, and the occasional cuss word. When he is done he is going to translate the whole thing into Italian, so that it truly is an Italian Scooby Doo book. I can’t wait to read it!