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Dear Tired Mom of Gifted Kids

dear tired mom of gifted kids

It’s been a long day already, and you haven’t even taken your first sip of coffee. You didn’t get to bed until well after midnight because the oldest couldn’t shut his mind down and wanted, no needed, to talk about every single swirling thought he’d ever had.

Dear Tired Mama of Gifted Kids

At four a.m. you were violently shaken awake by the six year old who just needed to hear you say, yet again, that it was highly unlikely that the sun would explode whilst she slept. And what scientific proof you had to back up your stance.

You finally got her settled again, snuggled next to your slumbering husband when the toddler started crying. He just needed to cuddle, and so in desperation you brought him into bed with you praying that this way you might both get some sleep.

You did.

For a few hours.

And then you awoke to a crash in the kitchen at 7:30ish.

Your sweet eight year old decided to make you coffee, and dropped the canister, then tripped over the chair she’d used to get the coffee out of the cupboard in the first place. And you looked at the table and saw that she’d pulled dough out of the fridge and was rolling it out for biscuits – and had spread flour everywhere.

Dear Tired Mama of Gifted Kids

Bleary-eyed, you finished making the coffee, and worked together with your daughter to clean up the mess, and soothed her sobs. Her plan had been to surprise you with a complete breakfast, ready to go, as soon as you woke up. And she’d hoped to be halfway through her independent school work before that.

But things often don’t look like the perfect picture in her head, and she just can’t handle that when perfectionism rears its ugly head.

So, for sanity’s sake, you are now sitting on the couch, cradling your coffee in your cupped hands, breathing in the vanilla flavored creamer and the peppermint essential oil you dropped in, hoping it would clear the cobwebs from your cluttered mind – and the television is on with Leap singing the alphabet to your littlest.

Dear Tired Mama of Gifted Kids

And you’re gearing up for the chaos of the day.

Homeschooling – no, parenting – gifted kids is not for the weak. There’s the anxiety. And the asynchrony. And the overexcitabilities. And the intensity. And the perfectionism. You often think that whomever came up with the term gifted to describe children like yours, may have used the word gift to remind themselves that children were a blessing.

Because oftentimes giftedness is not.

Take heart, mama, it is worth it.

The late night theological discussions, the endless curiosity, the boundless energy, the constant noise… it’s all worth it.

But, because the traditional parenting tips don’t typically work with gifted and intense children, you often feel alone and like you’re failing.

Miserably.

Dear Tired Mama of Gifted Kids

Dear Tired Mom of Gifted Kids

Here’s the thing, mama of gifted and intense kiddos… you’re not failing. At all. There are other moms out there who are experiencing the same failures, the same exhaustion, the same endless unanswerable questions from pint-sized brains that run laps around your own.

And the supermom myth… well it’s just a myth. You can’t do it all, and you certainly can’t do it alone.

Moms of gifted kids need help – and they need to be okay asking for it.

Help can be a conversation in a support group for parents of gifted children. Something simple to remind you that you’re not alone, your kids will be fine, and you’ll make it through this adventure of parenting. If you’re looking for a fantastic and supportive community full of parents who get you, I’d love to have you join us in The Learner’s Lab

the learners lab for gifted kids

Help is going out for coffee with a friend – just to be a normal woman for an evening. It’s getting together with with a small group of moms and their kids, and being okay with whatever means fun for your kiddo, even if that’s reading under a tree while the other kids run around on the playground.

It’s even pulling away from everyone for a few days or weeks to regroup and reconnect as a family. To sit at home and cuddle on the couch with one another.

Help is whatever YOU need most.

But, tired mama, the best thing you can do to help yourself through this journey of parenting misunderstood kiddos is to remember that you ARE a fantastic parent. You are exactly the mother designed for your kids. You’re perfect for them. Especially in your imperfection.

There’s no such thing as a perfect mama. Only one doing her best, learning and growing alongside her kiddos.

Sip that coffee, regroup, and rely on Netflix from time to time if you need to. But don’t doubt that you’re doing a wonderful job. You ARE a great mom.

I’m sitting here with my coffee, and thinking about you. Knowing that you’re out there helps me through my struggles too. We’re in this together, tired mama of gifted kids, and we can do this.

Thinking of you – and clinking my mug to yours… Be brave today. Smart kids are cool – and so are you. Carry on and know that help is a FB message or email away.

 

For more posts on parenting gifted kids, check out:

         

Dear Tired Mama of Gifted Kids

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What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

what does a gifted homeschool graduate really think about homeschooling


Have you ever wanted to ask a homeschool graduate what they thought about their homeschool experience? Are you curious about what an adult life after homeschool looks like? I get all the answers from Samantha Shank, a brilliant homeschool graduate, highly successful business owner, and highly gifted, eclectic learner. 
 

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

I absolutely adored my conversation with Samantha Shank, from Learn in Color. Not only is she a homeschool graduate, she is also an obviously gifted, eclectic thinker, whose enthusiasm for learning is contagious.

These are some highlights from our time together.

Related: Interest-Led Homeschooling And Your Gifted Child

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

The Most Important Things Parents Can Do For Their Homeschooled Children

As a homeschool graduate, who graduated from high school and college early, Samantha believes the most important thing her parents did for her education was simply this – 

“They let me learn.”

Sam’s experience and ultimate success, is one of the reasons I feel so strongly that interest-led, child-directed learning produces the very best outcomes for gifted learners. For a example, her passion for World War Two was the flickering flame that launched an entire business. 

Other experiences that Samantha remembers as essential to her homeschool education were:

  • Weekly Library Trips
  • Encouraging Outside Groups and Connections (I think Samantha is going to be Miss America someday!)
  • Her parent’s encouraging her to try new things, knowing that not everything would be a fit
  • Helping her learn to fail in a safe and supportive environment

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

Homeschooling High School, College, and Beyond

One of the most encouraging topics we covered was Samantha’s homeschool experience through high school and college. It’s clear that her passion for learning fueled not only her studies and interests, but her ability to build a flourishing business.

She attributes much of this success to her parent’s decision to homeschool her, specifically in an interest-led eclectic way.

Samantha is also quite encouraging for those of us who worry about our kids not fitting in or struggling to establish friendships. Her advice for our kids?

Do you. It may not happen in your city or your area, but eventually, you will find your people who share your interests. Find your group of friends in your own nontraditional way. You don’t have to sacrifice your core personality for friendship.

Samantha Shank, Learn in Color

What Does A Gifted Homeschool Graduate Really Think About Homeschooling?

If you are homeschooling a gifted learner, I think you will not only enjoy Sam’s episode, but find so much inspiration and encouragement!

Samantha Shank, Learn in Color

The Raising Lifelong Leaners Podcast, Episode 111: A Conversation With Homeschool Graduate Turned Business Owner, Samantha Shank

 
 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

         

 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


 
 
 

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Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

why homeschooling helps your gifted child thrive

 

Education and achievement doesn’t have to look like school, and it doesn’t have to follow a prescribed path. In this audio-blog episode, Colleen shares the reality of rethinking achievement and how homeschooling helps our gifted children thrive. 

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

Making The Decision To Homeschool My Gifted Child

As someone who worked in the school system and loved it, making the decision to homeschool my oldest son, so many years ago, was not easy. I had so many preconceived notions of what defines success and academic achievement, especially for gifted children.

Now, as my oldest prepares to graduate high school (as a homeschooler), I can see that the decision to homeschool is actually what has supported him most and helped him to thrive.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling Gifted Children

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

I can sum it up in one word – Freedom.

Homeschooling helps gifted children thrive because it gives them the freedom to learn in ways that work best for their brilliant minds!

As homeschooling parents of gifted kids, I think we need to revise our perspectives when it comes to achievement. Most people think that kids need to follow a linear path when it comes to learning. And, while it’s true that some subjects like math tend to build upon themselves, one skill at a time, that’s just not the case for most of what kids learn during their childhood.

Homeschooling helps a gifted child thrive because it removes the typical, linear approach and it allows for true learner exploration. 

And, it protects their own motivation and inspiration throughout the learning process!

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

RLL Podcast Episode 110

In today’s episode, we explore this concept in much more detail. This is a practical, in-depth look at both how we define achievement, and why this is so essential for our gifted children’s success . 

 
 

Why Homeschooling Helps Your Gifted Child Thrive

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

      

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


 

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I Just Want My Son Back | What it Feels Like When Your Child is in Crisis

i just want my son back what it feels like when your child is in crisis

This is an electrical outlet in the emergency room. You’ll notice it looks different from what you’re used to seeing – it’s not only covered for safety, but locked.

There is no way to access it.

There is no way to charge my phone while we wait.

There is also no way for a child to harm themselves with it.

when your child is in crisis

This is what the outlets look like in the specialized rooms in a closed corner of the emergency room, where children are taken when they are brought in during a behavioral emergency. This is where children are taken when they attempt suicide, become so manic they’re uncontrollable, have psychotic breaks, fits of rage, and homicidal ideation.

This is where we ended up when my son attacked me.

when your child is in crisis

It’d never happened before, and I almost smugly believed it never would. I’m in a few Facebook groups for parents of troubled kids, I know a few families in real life who have had to bring their children to these rooms, but I always comforted myself that no matter how hard it got with my own boy, he’d never hurt me.

Until he did.

This room is so bare it’s unsettling. The bed and chair are made of a rubber-like foam. There is no bedding, no paper covers, no railing, no legs on any of them. Just blobs of hard, blue foam. The bed looks like a giant blue pill. There are no wires in this room. No call buttons, no lines to the oxygen in the wall. There’s a tv mounted behind a case but no remote to turn it on. Even the sink faucet is small with no visible plumbing.

“Where is the trash can?” my son asks.

“There’s not one in here. They can’t risk you throwing it at them.”

I look up, raising my eyes in an attempt to keep the hot tears from spilling out.

A failed attempt.

I see the large mirror in the corner that allows doctors and nurses to make sure no one is lying in wait to attack them. My son and I are sitting calmly on the giant blue pill bed and all that’s reflected back is how very empty the room is. Even with my eyes closed I can feel how empty it is.

I can feel how empty I am.

I know I’m not giving up. I know I never will give up. But right now, in this moment, on this hard, blue bed, I don’t know where I’ll draw my next breath from.

I’m so tired.

So worn.

So desperate.

So sad.

I know I’m not alone…

There are several rooms like this one in this corner of the ER, and many of them are currently occupied. The police are in the hall outside of another room, filling out paperwork and discussing the patient.

Will they come for my boy?

Has a nurse told them he hit me?

I clutch him, realizing all over again how serious this is. When you find yourself in a situation you never anticipated, you have to process it multiple times. It’s all too unreal to be real. It’s all so different, that you can protect yourself for a little while by not really accepting it.

Related: When Anxiety Looks Like Anger When Your Child is in Crisis

This Is What It’s Like When Your Child Is In Crisis

But those police officers are real.

My sweaty boy leaning against me is real.

The marks on my arm are real.

We are really here, in the emergency room, in a small, specialized room, designed to minimize the damage my child is apparently capable of.

I’m torn between wanting to cling to him and wanting the doctors to take him, just for a little while, just so he can get some help and I can get some respite.

Every parent likes to brag about their child when they’re asked about them, but instead I have to tell this intake specialist about the worst things my son has ever done.

His creativity and sense of humor don’t come up here.

No one is appreciating how well he does with his schoolwork.

Instead of eyebrows raising at being impressed by him, all of the brows around here are furrowed, worried, vigilant.

Are they judging me?

Do they think I let him get this way?

Do they wonder what I missed, what else I could have done?

Do they shake their heads at my decision to have children despite my family history of mental illness?

Do they search for ways to make this my fault?

Because I do.

I am.

I’m filled with guilt over something I didn’t even do.

I look down at my precious boy, leaning against me, calm, and lose touch of the reality we’re in just for a moment.

Surely this baby didn’t mean it.

Surely this will never happen again.

Surely this will be a wake up call to him and this behavior will stop.

But I’m not sure.

I don’t know what is causing this behavior.

I don’t know what will  help it.

I don’t know if we’ll be back in this room.

I know that I love him, and he loves me, but he is fighting something so strong inside him that he’s currently losing. He’s overtaken by something he’s not strong enough to fight on his own and has ended up on a hard, blue bed in a small, empty room.

He’s seen several doctors, several therapists, my boy. He’s been in various treatments for varying amounts of time over the years, and the diagnoses always change.

“It isn’t an exact science,” I’m told when I ask about the fluid, ever-changing labels. Then I’m handed a prescription for a very strong, very scientific medication and asked to trust the non-exact science with the very long list of side effects. No two therapists or doctors ever agree on what alphabet soup best explains my son, and I admit that as I grow increasingly dependent upon mental health professionals I trust them less and less.

He’s released.

He’s calmed down now and hasn’t made any threats against himself or anyone else.

He’s lucid but tired.

Without a charged phone or a clock I realize we went over 8 hours without eating and the knots in my stomach untie just enough to release a growl. I’m glad to be heading home with him. I know he didn’t need to stay, I know he didn’t meet the criteria for inpatient care, but I still feel like we didn’t accomplish anything.

I’ll follow up with his therapists tomorrow.

Tonight we’ll rest in our own beds — beds with linens and pillows and usable outlets nearby.

I don’t know if we’ll be back to that small, empty room with the hard, blue bed.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow when I call his therapists.

I don’t know what will happen when we walk back into the familiar environment of our home where he punched, clawed, bit, and kicked me.

I don’t know what’s going on in that mind of his, and to be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on in mine. I’m too tired to think, or maybe too afraid to.

I never wanted to see a room like that one. I really didn’t even know they existed before tonight.

I never thought my boy would hurt me, on purpose, repeatedly.

We crossed more than one threshold today and I didn’t like what was on the other side.

I know that whatever awaits, whatever doors we have to go through or whatever rooms we have to revisit, I’ll be there.

Related: Helping Your Child Cope with AnxietyWhen Your Child is in Crisis

If Your Child Is In Crisis, You Are Not Alone.

I’ll keep going wherever my boy needs and sitting wherever we find ourselves. I’m not giving up, on him or the system that runs on inexact science.

I have to believe he’s still in there, my boy, somewhere under the angry layers he’s burrowed into.

I have to believe I’ll see him again someday, see a twinkle in his eye and not a fire.

I miss him.

Deeply.

Painfully.

Whoever said it was better to have loved and lost has never held the shell of their child. I have to get him back, for his sake and my own. So I will sit on 1000 hard blue beds and give up all the outlets in the world until some doctor, somehow, finds some relief for him.

I’m not alone.

I’m not at fault.

And I’m not giving up.

What It Feels Like When Your Child is in Crisis - Raising Lifelong Learners

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Why Self-Care Is Important For Our Children Too

why self care is important for our children too

 
Self-care has become an increasingly popular topic in recent years, and for good reason. As parents, we simply must take care of ourselves in order to take care of our children. But what about our kids, especially those who are gifted and twice exceptional? How do we help them learn coping skills and emotional regulation? How do we help them identify what they need to take care of their own bodies and souls?

self-care for kids

 

Self-Care For Parents Of Gifted Children

I am not sure there is any doubt at this point, that self-care is a necessity in our lives as parents. (If I hear the “put your oxygen mask on first” analogy one more time, I may scream.)

The reality is that practical self-care often looks a lot different than how self-care is portrayed on social media. Add the complex set of issues associated with neurodiverse, gifted children, and self-care can often feel like an overwhelming, yet another-thing-to-do task.

The good news is, self-care is not always bubble baths and vacations. Most of the time, it’s small, practical, and intentional choices that help us maintain balance.

Here are some small, realistic examples of practical self-care for parents of gifted children.

  • Going on a walk
  • Listening to a podcast while doing the dishes
  • Reading a book
  • Going to bed early
  • Hiding in the closet and eating chocolate
  • Watching a show with your husband

Now, if we can just stop feeling guilty for  doing them!

self care is important for children too

 

Why Self-Care Is Important For Our Children Too

We have an opportunity to teach our children how to develop self-care and coping skills the same way we teach almost any other topic.

It’s worth it! These skills benefit our children in a variety of ways. Decreased anxiety, increased self-confidence, and more comfortable social interactions are just a few of the benefits of self-care for our children.

self care is important for children too

 

Helping Our Children Develop Self-Care Strategies

These are just a few suggestions for incorporating this type of learning into our everyday lives with our children. 

Modeling Self-Care Skills For Our Children

One of the best ways to help our children develop healthy self-care habits, is to model them. 

This means being intentional about how we employ our own self-care and being overt in bringing their attention to it. For example, saying “I am feeling a bit low today. I am going to take a walk in the sunshine,” is far more effective than any lecture about the benefits of the sun on our moods.

Have A Plan For Your Child’s Self-Care

Whether or not your child struggles with executive functioning, they will likely need you to help them develop a plan for their own self-care.

For years, I have helped my kids pack a bag filled with items and activities to help them feel calm and centered when we are out and about. Because I helped them create this plan initially, as they have gotten older, they’ve learned to do it on their own.

Self-Care Practice Makes Perfect

It takes time for self-care and overall coping skills to develop. Please know, none of us are immune to the frustration that comes from trying to help our child, only to see them continue to struggle.

As with all social and emotional skills, our children need time, often years, to begin to feel a sense of understanding and control. Consider it practice, not a failure, when your child is not able to employ even the most well thought out plan for self-care.

Given time and practice, self-care can become an essential component of our children’s lives. 

 

A Conversation with Colleen and Shawna All About Realistic, Real Life Self-Care

self-care for kids

 

Colleen and Shawna take this episode to talk through the practical realities associated with self-care for ourselves and for our children. (Don’t miss Colleen’s story about meeting her husband in the driveway and Shawna’s son thinking her doing the dishes is somehow self-care!)

self care

 

Links And Resources From Today’s Episode

         

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


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Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

why unit studies are ideal for gifted learners

When my daughter finds a topic she loves she latches on like a dog to a bone. She wants more and can’t seem to get enough. Maybe you can relate? This is where unit studies come in.

Unit studies are the perfect way to engage an intense kiddo.

Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

When we began homeschooling I tried to rush through her interests to get back to my homeschool plans. I never stopped to realize the damage I was doing by squashing her curiosity. I slowly saw her love for learning fading a little more each day. 

One day, that little girl looked at me with so much passion in her eyes I thought they would burst and said, “Mom, wouldn’t it be fun to do school with Jack and Annie?”. Jack and Annie are characters from the Magic Tree House book series. They were her favorite books and had become friends to her through their stories.

I immediately dismissed her like I always do. But later I started thinking about the passionate look in her eyes and how quickly it faded upon my dismissal. So, I did what any mom would do. I reread all of the books and wrote out a plan. A plan that would allow us to study the Magic Tree House books as unit studies.

I will never forget the joy she had when I told her that for first grade we would be doing Jack and Annie school. I had reignited her love for learning.

Related: 8 Ways To Foster A Love of Learning In Your Children

Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

 

Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

The following school year we did nothing but unit studies. We studied things like dinosaurs, medieval times, Ancient Egypt, pirates, and more. I could have never planned the rabbit trails we went down or the immense learning that took place. It was at that moment that I realized unit studies were the perfect way to homeschool her.

In the years that followed unit studies became our main form of learning. Unit studies focus on topics or themes my daughter is truly interested in. That way, she is more likely to remember the things she learns. It’s also a great way to satisfy her desire to know all the things on a specific topic.

This has made such a significant difference in her learning. It really is an ideal way to support a gifted learner. 

So, what does this really look like in our day to day homeschooling?

Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

 

My first step is always a plan. Some of them are much more involved than others, but my unit study plans usually follow the same basic process. 

How To Plan A Unit Study

Choose a Topic

I think it’s really important to focus on my child’s interests if at all possible. However, I think you can also pick something relevant such as a field trip you know you have coming up or maybe a holiday. 

Search Your Home

Collect all the things you already have that match the topic or theme of your study. I usually walk around my house searching for applicable resources such as books, games, hands-on activities, and manipulatives.

Don’t Forget Technology

Search all of your streaming services (Curiosity Stream, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+) for documentaries that would compliment the topic you are studying about. Make a YouTube playlist. And look in the app store for a new app too. 

Getting it All Done

I like to place all of my unit study materials in a basket or bin and let my daughter pick and choose. I mean it is her education she should have some say in it. And because I am the one gathering the material I know it is all appropriate. 

I know chances are we won’t get to everything I have planned for us to do. But, that’s okay! We just work through the materials answering all of her questions and diving in as deep as she wants. When she is ready to move on, we do.

Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

 

The Incredible Advantages of Unit Studies

Love of Learning

Unit studies help an intense child love learning. Especially if you choose a topic they are interested in. It is like saying that you hear them and value their opinions and interests. You are helping them learn about things they love and in return they develop a love for learning in general.

Relationship

The frustration that came when I tried to force my plans was ruining our relationship. Many times our homeschool days ended in tears. Since incorporating unit studies as our main method of homeschooling the tears happen less frequently. That has allowed our relationship to flourish. Our relationship has taken such a big turn that she now knows she can say “Hey Mom, let’s spend a year at Hogwarts” and I will totally oblige!

Why Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners

Beautiful, Engaging Unit Studies To Save You Time

A Note From Colleen:

Isn’t Jessica an absolute natural in creating this type of learning? We have been using her unit studies off and on over the years and I am constantly amazed at what she comes up with and the professionalism of her products. 

She is a true friend in writing this for me here at Raising Lifelong Learners, but I also want to make sure you know that she is THE SOURCE for beautiful engaging unit studies on her own site, The Waldock Way. 

Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. At The Waldock Way Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime. She inspires families to engage in homeschooling as a lifestyle where relationships come first and interested led learning prevails. Jessica also has a fabulous collection of unit studies on her website and shares generously on her YouTube channel.

unit studies for gifted kids

You can find Jessica and The Waldock Way online at all the following sites:

Blog: www.thewaldockway.com
YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/thewaldockway
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thewaldockway
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thewaldockway

Take a look at all she has to offer. I know you will be as impressed as I am! ~ Colleen

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100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted

100 hints that your child may be gifted

Admit it, you’ve thought about it. You see your precious little one handling blocks with expert dexterity. Your heart swells as they garble through their ABCs. Your pride and joy is walking already or handles math problems with ease and you wonder, Could my child be gifted?

Maybe.

There is a growing community of support for gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. ~Raising Lifelong Learners #gifted

There is a growing community of support for the families of gifted children, but still a lot of murky information about how to actually tell if your child is gifted. I remember when my oldest was still a toddler, I was reading a popular parenting magazine and came across a one-page article discussing giftedness in children. Intrigued and convinced that my precious firstborn was obviously a genius, I began comparing him to the checklist they provided… and promptly discovered that he didn’t match a single criteria. Oh well, I thought. I wouldn’t know what to do with a genius. He’s fine how he is.

Years later, surprise! Not only is he gifted, but so is his brother… and his sister. It took a teacher telling us that they were likely gifted – and multiple test results – to convince me. As we began to learn more about what it meant to be gifted, hindsight became more and more clear. The signs were always there, I’d just been wholly misinformed as to what they were!

100 Hints That Your Child May Be Gifted

Here you’ll find 100 real-life and classic hints that your child may be gifted. Since gifted kids are as unique from one another as they are from the general population, not every one of these will be true for every gifted child, and there will definitely be anecdotes experienced by gifted families that aren’t mentioned here. But in general, you may very well have a gifted child on your hands if:

  1. The word “intensity” drums up your child’s image. Intensity is the hallmark of gifted children. Intense feelings, intense reactions, intense drive. Intensity is the word when it comes to gifted kids.

  2. Your child learned to read at an early age, or

  3. they taught themselves how to read.

  4. The questions never, ever stop.

  5. She often seems wise beyond her years, but

  6. sometimes she can seem to behave younger than her actual age, especially when it comes to social and emotional issues.

  7. He experiences fears that children his age don’t.

  8. They are aware of their own mortality.

  9. He sleeps less than other children. Less than the parenting articles say he needs. Less than you need to maintain your sanity.

  10. He takes hours to fall asleep – often because he can’t “turn his brain off”.

  11. She can draw inferences from data, evidence, or Sesame Street.

  12. She can grasp metaphors at a young age.

  13. He can understand and appreciate sarcasm.

  14. He is sarcastic.

  15. She isn’t content to simply absorb information and often asks “why?” what she’s learning is important

  16. They experience anxiety.

  17. He is able to grasp concepts quickly.

  18. She is observant.

  19. He has a large, diverse vocabulary.

  20. She does well in math and can easily apply mathematical concepts to new challenges.

  21. He can’t learn enough. His desire to investigate and ask questions and immerse himself in a subject is insatiable.

  22. She has a rich, vivid, active imagination.

  23. They make up their own elaborate rules to games… or even make up their own elaborate games.

  24. He has a strong sense of justice and becomes particularly upset when faced with inequality.

  25. She can pay attention for long periods of time, especially when compared to her age peers.

  26. He has an excellent memory and can recall facts and information accurately.

  27. Others commented on what an alert infant she was.

  28. He has an intense curiosity about just about everything.

  29. They experience intense reactions to pain.

  30. He corrects others, sometimes rudely, and is usually right.

  31. She has an increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli – noises are louder, smells are more offensive, sock seams are evil.

  32. He can retain information, not just sit through it.

  33. She experiences intense empathy for others in pain or peril.

  34. He thinks so far outside the box that sometimes the box is no longer visible.

  35. They offer creative solutions to basic – or complex – problems.

  36. She often has great insight into situations.

  37. He forms strong attachments – to people, to stuffed animals, to trains, to shoes, to a favorite toothbrush, to anything.

  38. She is able to identify connections between information, facts, and people.

  39. He’s just so original. Your kiddo is quirky and awesome and there doesn’t seem to be anyone like him.

  40. She requires fewer repetitions to master a new skill.

  41. They have passionate interest in (sometimes unusual) topics

  42. He can be pretty argumentative. Any disagreement is apparently an invitation to debate, and

  43. He oftentimes win those debates (whether you tell him or not is up to you!).

  44. She becomes frustrated with repetition and review. Spiral instruction is not for her.

  45. He lacks patience or understanding when others struggle with a task he’s mastered.

  46. She frequently finds school boring.

  47. They have very high standards for everyone around them, but they are often highest when it comes to what they expect from themselves. This often leads to

  48. Struggles with perfectionism.

  49. She daydreams.

  50. He craves and appreciates novelty.

  51. She has a deep self-awareness – though may lack the ability or language to actually identify and describe her inner experiences.

  52. He has an interest in politics and enjoys discussing the latest issues.

  53. They often speak quickly. Their little mouths sometimes can’t keep up with their excitement and ideas.

  54. He’s the classic absent-minded professor – brilliant and disorganized, smart but scattered.

  55. They have a parent or sibling who has been identified as gifted.

  56. She could carry out multi-step instructions from an early age.

  57. He’s very picky – food, textures, smells, oh my!

  58. She asks deep questions.

  59. He has little need for instruction and can often master skills on his own.

  60. She frequently seeks out older children or adults for conversation.

  61. He might have excessive energy, almost like he’s driven by a motor inside.

  62. She’s skeptical, sometimes cynical.

  63. They work well independently and

  64. May even prefer to work independently.

  65. She’s so creative.

  66. He’s aware of how different he is from the kids his own age.

  67. So. Much. Talking.

  68. He expressed an early interest and/or understanding of time.

  69. Her development is asynchronous.

  70. He spoke early… and well.

  71. She exhibited early mastery of motor skill functions.

  72. They hit several developmental milestones early.

  73. She has a deep need to learn, create, go, do…

  74. He has a laser-like focus and

  75. He’s able to multitask successfully.

  76. She has a great sense of humor.

  77. He appreciates puns and dad jokes, long before becoming an actual dad.

  78. She’s able to recognize problems and

  79. She’s able to propose solutions.

  80. “Why?”

  81. They have a wide knowledge base that comes from interests in multiple areas.

  82. He’s able to understand cause and effect relationships.

  83. She can imagine multiple outcomes to situations, which often causes her to

  84. Overthink instructions. In fact, she probably

  85. Overthinks everything.

  86. He can apply new concepts to multiple areas.

  87. She struggles socially, often because of the differences between her and her peers.

  88. He creates his own ways to solve math problems.

  89. They exhibited early pattern recognition.

  90. She’s often a square peg in a round hole world.

  91. He has a strong fear of or preoccupation with death.

  92. She is highly critical of herself.

  93. He doesn’t just get interested in a topic, he obsesses.

  94. They unknowingly dominate their peers.

  95. Their standards and expressive skills often push them towards natural leadership.

  96. She deeply experiences her surroundings.

  97. He doesn’t blindly accept unproven authority.

  98. What’s normal for her sounds like you’re bragging to others.

  99. He has a low threshold for frustration.

  100. She thrives on complexity.

Related: If He’s REALLY So Smart… When Gifted Kids Struggle

100 hints your child may be gifted

 

Is My Child Really Gifted If They Are Struggling In School?

You may notice that among the 100 traits listed above, not once were grades mentioned as an indicator of giftedness. Being a gifted child is not all about straight-A’s and perfect test scores, it’s a neurological difference that affects many, many areas of their lives and really turns up the intensity knob.

Sure, many gifted kids have impressive report cards, but they also have struggles, fears, and unique experiences that set them apart from the crowd.

No question, It is a unique set of complex circumstances that creates a unique family dynamic and educational challenges. 

But please know, you are not alone in it. 

Are You Homeschooling A Gifted Child?

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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RLL #107: Learning as an Unschooling Family with Robyn Robertson

rll 107 learning as an unschooling family with robyn robertson

 

I truly believe that the best way we can educate our gifted and twice-exceptional (2E) kids is through homeschooling with self-directed learning and unschooling.

Self-Directed Learning vs. Unschooling?

Self-directed learning is a self-motivated pursuit of knowledge not based on a required set of circumstances but learning for its own sake. Using an unschooling approach to learning simply means that activities and lessons are not structured or required.

Children constantly learn through their interactions and experiences with the world around them.  Many families find that creating their own flexible homeschool and allowing their kids to be the driving force in their learning is the very best educational option for our above-average kids.

RLL #107: Learning as an Unschooling Family with Robyn Robertson

Self-directed learning and unschooling is better for gifted and 2E learners

Our kids aren’t cookie cutter, why would we think a one size fits all of educating will fit them? An example might be a kiddo who loves math and excels ahead of his same-age peers but is also struggling with reading. We could encourage his reading through the “strewing” of picture books about math, making them available for him to discover. This would likely be more interesting to him than a remedial reading curriculum. 

A lot of gifted kids are energized by making “dive deeps” into areas of interest. In our family, there is a genuine need to go into detailed study! Just because measures like tests or projects show mastery has occurred doesn’t mean our kids are done with learning about the subject. With self-directed homeschooling, limits are easily removed in open-ended learning at home; there is no timetable to follow. By exploring those tangents, our kids are motivated to learn more in depth and with greater passion.

The benefits of self-directed learning and unschooling point to just how good it is for gifted and 2E kids.

There’s a confidence that comes to children when they have buy-in to their learning. Self-directed learners are motivated in their learning and hesitate less to investigate new things.

More flexible learning gives us a way where overexcitabilities and asynchrony are less of an issue. Home is a safer environment in which to learn strategies to handle differences and adjust behaviors.  Homeschooling parents are readily available to give our kids the support they need if they’re asynchronous. Scaffolding can provide for areas where our child might struggle, so that they can continue to learn and create at their level. Take for example the child who has difficulty with handwriting, but who has a great imagination and concocts wonderfully imaginative stories. Allowing her to dictate her story to a parent to record is a way of giving her space to explore her talent as a “writer” while supporting her as she works on penmanship.

Unschooling benefits the whole family by creating space to create.

Grace Llewellyn explains, “You don’t need a schoolteacher to get knowledge – you can get it from looking at the world, from watching films, from conversations, from reading, from asking questions, from experience. When you get down to it, unschooling is really just a fancy term for ‘life’ or ‘growing up uninstitutionalized.’” 

Unschooling gives us more room to explore interests and have wonderful life experiences in the safest of environments, within the family, those relationships will always be their very best teacher. Important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, fostering authenticity and lifelong learning take time and attention which we can adjust and focus on while we homeschool.

Ultimately, as parents of these “outside-the-box thinkers,” we learn to trust our children better and respect their learning needs. All kids have an intrinsic desire to learn and create; but our kids tend towards MORE of everything. In self-directed learning and unschooling, we can be our kiddos’ greatest champion, cheering them on to becoming the very best people they can be.

unschooling life learning grace llewellyn

Families who already use self-directed learning and unschooling provide support and encouragement.

This week’s podcast episode is a conversation with Robyn Robertson of Honey I’m Homeschooling the Kids. She shares the background of her unschooling family and makes an important analogy of self-directed learning as being a journey we travel on with our entire family.  Some of the ideas Robyn and Colleen share in this episode are:

  • Travel together as a family in your learning, even if everyone is learning about different things.
  • Keep going back to knowing why you’re doing it and adjust as needed.
  • Experience life together, share stories as a family. This will cause you to build connections through these shared experiences.
  • Take field trips, have family projects, attend independent classes and enrichment programs, enroll in online courses and exercise programs, and leave room for a lot of personal time. If the individual wants to pursue a formal class, that can be unschooling as well!

Learning Mindset Happiness is goal Robyn Robertson

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

            

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

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If He’s REALLY So Smart… When Gifted Kids Struggle

if hes really so smart when gifted kids struggle

“Boy is he an EXTREME thinker! If he actually took the time to sit and focus on his work, he could accomplish anything…”

when gifted children struggle

As helpful and positive as his preschool teacher thought she was being, words like this can set some of our most intelligent kiddos up for a lifetime of failure. So, why do some gifted children struggle so much?

If they’re really as smart as we say they are, why can’t some of them just do their work? Or behave better? Or act nicer? Or…?

I remember watching my son spin in circles in the back of his preschool classroom while the others sat raptly taking in their teacher’s read aloud. And cringing. Why couldn’t he just sit still? All the other kids were managing it.

Never mind that he understood everything that was going on in the story, and could recount whole passages, identify individual characters and speak to their motivation, inferring cause and effect at a much higher lever than any of his intently listening classmates. He couldn’t do it in a way that didn’t disrupt the others – or distract the teacher.

Related: A Kid with an Issue Can’t Be Gifted, Right?

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

What do Twice Exceptional Children Look Like?

Twice exceptional children are gifted kiddos who struggle with other neurological, learning, or physical issues. Twice exceptional children can look perfectly ordinary in a classroom setting. Their abilities mask their disabilities, and their disabilities mask their abilities, making them seem perfectly average.

Sometimes, though, a child’s giftedness might shine through more than his disability, making it seem like he’s not living up to his potential. He seems like he should be achieving so much ore than he is, but is choosing not to. The reality is that his difficulties make it impossible to live up to his potential. He just can’t overcome them without intervention.

I remember the fall parent-teacher conference we went to when our son was in first grade. We were invited to look inside his desk to see what his teacher “had to put up with.” Our kiddo, who meticulously organized his action figures, cars, and LEGO each night before he went to bed, had a desk full to the brim with crumpled papers, broken pencils, dried out markers, and ripped folders. There was also a thick stack of unfinished worksheets in a folder.

Those were the ones he’d never turned in because they’d gotten lost somewhere in his desk or classroom. The teacher had recopied them and placed them in a new folder for our bright, hyperactive, wiggly, and sensory kiddo to work on instead of going out to recess with his friends.

Does this sound familiar?

Many twice exceptional children struggle with executive functioning issues, and can’t organize their thinking enough to turn things in, keep things organized (when they’re not interested), or follow multiple step directions. It doesn’t matter how smart they are, they just can’t do it. Their lack of organizational skills results in a messy desk, overflowing backpack, and problems keeping track of books and papers. Difficulties with prioritizing and planning make it impossible for them to complete assignments in a timely manner. They are easily distracted and struggle to focus and sustain attention.

Related: Homeschooling Twice Exceptional Kids

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

Why Do Twice Exceptional Children Struggle?

The extreme frustration these kiddos feel when they can’t meet their own and others’ expectations, combined with the frustration of adults who don’t understand why a bright child does not achieve, can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, and failure.

Our twice exceptional kids can seem stubborn, opinionated, and argumentative, but they also appear to be overly sensitive to criticism. Many of these kiddos struggle with social skills which leads to feelings of isolation when they have trouble making and keeping friends. In order to avoid failing, 2e kids may try to manipulate the situation or simply refuse to try an assignment.

These kids are literally wired to struggle.

I mean, really, can you imagine how incredibly difficult it must be to have big thoughts swirling around your head, with the cognitive ability to understand things at a much deeper level than kids your age normally can, but have trouble spelling or reading words?

My 6 year old struggles mightily with sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and reading. She solves math problems for fun. Asks for science experiments and documentaries. Can converse at length about an incredibly intricate and imaginative world that lives only in her head. But she can’t read the simplest text. Her thinking is complex, but she lacks the skills to work independently because she has such trouble with words. It is incredibly frustrating for her.

And, since she already battles anxiety, the difficulties she faces with reading make her feel like a failure, and she acts out and argues when it’s time to read.

Yet she adores stories. She’ll look at the pictures in books for hours and listen to audio books and read alouds all day long. She can make the most amazing connections between what’s happening in stories she hears and the world in which she lives.

Related: Parenting and Teaching a Twice Exceptional Child

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

Living a Gifted/Twice Exceptional Life

We’re in a wonderful position because with homeschooling, we can easily nurture her giftedness while remediating for her disabilities in a loving way. It’s often thought that kids need to have their problems solved before working on pushing their strengths further, academically, but research shows the opposite is true. When we focus on a child’s strengths and build them up, they gain the confidence they need to tackle those deficits.

When gifted kids struggle with anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, or other struggles they need to be nurtured and built up by the ones they trust most – parents, teachers, and friends. It’s important to work together with the other people in your kiddo’s life to help them understand how best to help your child.

And your twice exceptional child needs to know what a gift he or she is to you. When someone says or implies that, if your child is so smart he should just get it and be able to be successful, you need to be the one to educate – whether it’s a family member, friend, or teacher.

You’re your child’s biggest advocate. And he’s perfect just the way he is.

Extreme thinking and all…

What “If he’s really so smart…” moments have you had lately?

You Don’t Have To Homeschool Your Gifted Child Alone!

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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RLL #106: [Audioblog] Young Gifted Children | Reflections from Parents

rll 106 audioblog young gifted children reflections from parents


Did you just know that your child was gifted from the start? You know, that feeling down deep in your gut that something was different about your tiny tot, but you weren’t able to completely pinpoint it?  Or maybe you went straight to a search engine with questions like, “signs my baby is gifted” or “What age can you tell if your child is gifted?”

Research shows that parents are pretty accurate when identifying their young children as gifted.  Whether early talking or walking, having extreme abilities of observation or learning, or even needing little sleep, a lot of our quirky kids start demonstrating unusually advanced behaviors from a very young age!

Today’s episode is an audioblog of a post that first appeared on the website, where Colleen asked parents to think back to when their young children were infants or toddlers. The responses were fascinating! Listen as parents share in their own words what traits and characteristics they could see now, in hindsight, that made them realize their child was gifted.  

RLL #106: [Audioblog] Young Gifted Children | Reflections from Parents

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

         

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!