Twice Exceptional Students and Homeschooling

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Someone asked me the other day about home schooling a 2E kid. What does it look like, how do your days flow, what kind of work does your child do? I shared with them what homeschooling looks like at my house with my youngest, and I thought I would share here too for anyone wanting to learn more about homeschooling these very unique kids.

First off, let me say that this is only one view of homeschooling the twice exceptional. There are many other ways to do it, and what works for one family will not always work for another. Also children and teenagers who are identified as twice exceptional vary in so many ways and struggle with different disabilities that techniques and routines that I use may not work for other families. Having said that I will share what works for us. At our house the key to homeschooling a 2E kid is flexibility, compassion, following passions (whatever they may be), and having support.

Flexibility – Flexibility is key to a smooth homeschooling journey for a 2E student. You need to be flexible in your routine, flexible with your curriculum choices, and flexible with your approach. What works one year may not work the next. What is scheduled in a curriculum may not be the schedule you follow. What you have planned for the day may not be what you get done. If you start your journey with flexibility in mind then you are able to bend easier without getting frustrated and overwhelmed. Changing your expectations goes hand in hand with this. Don’t expect school to look like the perfect vision you have in your mind, don’t expect it to look like other homeschooler’s school, and don’t expect it to look like a sibling’s school. It will be different than others, different from day to day, different than what is planned. And that is ok, and it is normal when schooling a twice-exceptional student. In our homeschool we may go weeks with the same schedule, and then hit a brick wall and need to take a break and reassess. Flexibility is the key to getting through times like this.

Compassion – Being a twice exceptional student can be hard. Some subjects come so easy to them, while other subjects are a constant struggle in frustration. These students may be working on work that is many years ahead of them and then they may struggle with work that is many years below them. My student’s strengths lie in writing, art, animation, and game making. He struggles with math. It is painful for him (and me!) to work through a math lesson that we have covered many times before, but that he still struggles with.  Compassion is the key to dealing with this frustration, this struggle. And compassion should be shown not just to the student, but towards yourself.

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Italian Scooby Doo books – One of my son’s passions that have lead to many interesting educational activities.

Passions – Twice exceptional children are going to have passions, and most of these kids will feel very strongly about what it is they love. I have found that discovering your student’s interests and supporting these pursuits should be an important part of your homeschool. While you may feel drawn to the idea of your homeschool reflecting a traditional school in the subjects you need to teach and the skills your student needs to learn, it would probably be helpful if you leave that idea behind. Instead balance the skills and subjects that you believe are essential to your child’s education with the areas your child wants to study. For 2E kids passions often lead to work that is very meaningful and spending time on these pursuits will be rewarding to both of you. Our days consist of an hour or so of essential school work that I want to get done, and the rest of the time is his own in which he works on what he feels is important. In our house that means writing for hours a day, working on animation projects, reading books of his choice. For other kids it means working on math for hours a day or on a specific science project. Passions will vary from student to student but having time for them will benefit them all.

Support – Homeschool a 2E kid is very rewarding, but it is also frustrating and demanding at times. Give yourself a pat on the back, on hard days allow yourself to put the work away and call it a day, and if you are ever feeling overwhelmed talk to friends, call on a relative, lean on a support group (whether in person or online). There will be days, weeks, or months were you struggle and you need some help. If you are really struggling don’t be afraid to see a professional whether it be your pediatrician, your neuropsych, or another person that can give you advice and/or a fresh perspective. Also if you think your child may have a learning disability please have them professionally assessed. Many times people in the homeschooling community can be weary of getting a professional opinion, but it really is helpful to have. Ask around the homeschool community if you want someone who is familiar with homeschooling and supports that choice, as it can make a difference. Either way, arm yourself with a support group for yourself and for your child.

Where to find help/support online –

The Well Trained Mind forums has a Learning Challenges board that is a great community of parents that support one another in regards to many issues facing 2E kids. I highly recommend starting there if you need some advice.

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum has a Twice-Exceptional section that is very helpful.

SEA Homeschoolers has many parents with 2E kids if you are looking for a general homeschooling support group.

Also I found a wonderful gifted/2E support group in my area with meetups and park days through Meetup. It was really great to meet families in person that struggled with some of the same issues, and it was wonderful to meet friends that understood my kids. I highly suggest looking for a group in your area, and if there is not one, consider starting your own.

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!