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10 Ways to Get Through a “Gifted” Day In Your Homeschool

Every parent has good days and bad. Every mom has days she wonders if she {or the kids} will make it through the day. And every parent of gifted kids knows that there are just some days when “gifted” doesn’t really seem like it’s that much of a gift. Everything you say is challenged, in […]

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Homeschooling An Artistic vs. Academically Gifted Child

homeschooling an artistic vs academically gifted child

It is easy for us to understand what a gifted child is like when they are academically advanced. But what about the child who struggles academically, but is artistically gifted? How do we help them learn while at the same time, nurture their gifts?

I am often asked by parents of gifted and twice exceptional kids what to do when their child is clearly gifted, but not in any real academic context. When they ask, it is not uncommon for there to be a hesitation associated with having to admit that the typical subjects we study in school are not coming easily to their gifted child.


artistic vs academically gifted child

The Perception That Giftedness Is Only Academic

The hesitancy to discuss this type of giftedness should not surprise any of us. There is a strong perception in the world and often, even among experts who work with gifted children, that academic subjects are the true measure of a child’s capabilities and gifts.

Not only is this perception false, it creates unnecessary barriers to learning for children who are wildly gifted, but in more artistic and right brained functions.

artistically gifted


Artistic Giftedness Is Just As Gifted

The reality is that “artistic giftedness” is fully an element of giftedness for many children. This is “just as gifted” as the math prodigy or history enthusiast.

In fact, there are key indicators of artistic giftedness that make a child a strong overall learner.

Artistically gifted students typically exhibit a strong sense of creativity. They are risk-takers who employ innovative methods, use interesting materials, and test artistic boundaries. For example, when the rest of the class is still drawing stick figures, they’re experimenting with three-dimensional figures.

Often, artistically gifted students have a desire to express themselves through their art, and they see their art as an extension of themselves.

The difficulty comes when we try to determine how best to help an artistically gifted child in their academic studies.

gifted academically

An Interest-Led and Strength Based Approach To Helping An Artistically Gifted Child Learn

For any gifted child, I strongly recommend an interest-led and strength-based approach to learning. This is just as important, perhaps even more important, for children who are artistically advanced.

Because of their natural ability to approach learning in an innovative and more hands-on way, using strengths to inform your approach to their academic learning in your homeschool makes all the difference in their overall learning.

Quote – Teaching to an individual’s strengths, exponentially increases productivity and learner satisfaction.

The research also surprisingly showed that a learner, when allowed to progress in a ‘strengths based’ approach, increased his overall capabilities and performance, even in the areas that were weaknesses

Your child’s love for art can be the perfect opportunity to teach academically.

artistically gifted


Using Art To Help Your Gifted Child Learn

One of the best options I know of for using art to help your child learn academically is You ARE An Artist’s homeschool lessons. These lessons seamlessly integrate art into academic homeschool lessons.

The lesson library of Chalk Pastel art tutorials is exceptional. There are kid favorites like Star Wars and Harry Potter themed art lessons. But perhaps more importantly for the artistically gifted child, there many art lessons available that correspond with your homeschool history, science, literature, and geography lessons

Take a look at just a small sample of the lessons available:

  • American Presidents 
  • Famous Artists 
  • Composers 
  • Maps 
  • Ancient History
  • Medieval History
  • Knights and Crusaders
  • American History
  • Classical Collection History
  • Modern History
  • Literature Studies
  • Space And Space Exploration
  • And so much more! 

In my family, one of subjects that really began to click for my more artistically gifted child was geography. Rather than looking at a map of the world in a textbook, my son needed to experience it to fully grasp and understand the big picture. Enter You ARE An Artist map lessons.

These are the maps he has worked on so far.

  • Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Africa
  • The United States and Canada
  • India
  • China
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • France
  • Lewis & Clark’s journey

There are also map lessons for:

  • The voyage to the first Thanksgiving
  • Biblical map of the journey to Bethlehem for Christmas
  • To the moon and back for modern history studies
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder family travels
  • Even a Map your garden plan

Learning geography in this way opened the world to my child. It worked so well; we have also used it in other subjects. You ARE An Artist has formed the backbone of our history studies, both ancient and modern. We have done science with their inventor lessons and space studies. We have also used You ARE An Artist for literature studies including Stopping by the Woods, by Robert Frost, The Hobbit, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

artistically gifted

Helping Your Artistically Gifted Child Succeed Academically

Using art to inform the academic studies of an artistically gifted child is a wonderful way to learn. Your child will enjoy and engage with the lessons in a much more profound way. Perhaps even more importantly, using art in this way helps your child lean into what makes them unique. This strength-based approach is easy with You ARE An Artist.

The good news is the You ARE an ARTiST Clubhouse is always open for membership – with access to a growing lesson library of over 700 video art lessons at the Complete level.

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Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

homeschooling a gifted child who struggles with reading

“My child is really struggling to learn to read. How is this possible when we know she is gifted?” This is a question that comes up from so many parents who are homeschooling a gifted child who struggles with reading. In this episode, we talk specifically about giftedness and dyslexia with Marianne Sunderland from Homeschooling With Dyslexia. 


Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

It’s the nature of homeschooling a child with twice-exceptionalities. They are so capable and so smart in one area, and struggle mightily in another. 

Academic Asynchrony Is Typical For Gifted Children

Academic asynchrony is quite typical for gifted children, and yet it can be difficult to know how to best help. 

For example, one of my children, clearly gifted, clearly twice exceptional, has struggled with learning to read. Her brilliance only exacerbated the problem. She knew she should be able to do it. She knew everyone else (even her younger sibling) could do it. 

It caused a significant amount of frustration and anxiety, which only made it more difficult for her to focus on reading.

Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

Gifted Children And Dyslexia: The Reality Of Twice Exceptional Kids

The reality is, reading difficulties and dyslexia often accompany giftedness. Marianne shares the various accommodations we can provide for gifted children, who have the ability to progress, but need assistance in some areas in order to do so. 

This is where assistive technology and supports come in. 

Using a math chart to help with math facts is not cheating. Neither is using a speech to text app to help them write at a level appropriate for their interests and gifted abilities. 

We meet them where they are and use accommodations simply as part of the curriculum and learning. 

Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

Raising Lifelong Learners Episode #132: Homeschooling A Gifted Child Who Struggles With Reading

This is the second episode in our series with Marianne Sunderland, from Homeschooling With Dyslexia. Today, we are specially discussing gifted children and dyslexia. This conversation includes testing, using assistive technology, and most importantly, encouragement that you are the best person to help your child succeed in learning and in life!


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

No More School: Meeting the Educational Needs of Kids With Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Difficulties

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's EducationDyslexia 101: Truths, Myths and What Really WorksFor the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolHelping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities: Strategies to Succeed in School and Life with Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Auditory Processing DisorderBlast Off to Reading!: 50 Orton-Gillingham Based Lessons for Struggling Readers and Those with DyslexiaThe Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic BrainSchool Can WaitRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenThe Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest EverRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyWhy I Love Homeschooling Neurodiverse Kids: 25 Parents Share the Joys & Challenges of Educating Their Kids Who Have ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Giftedness, or Are Otherwise Differently Wired

Leave a Rating or Review

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    • 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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Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

homeschooling a gifted only child

There are always challenges and advantages when you’re homeschooling. If you’re homeschooling just one child, you often face unique challenges and concerns. For example, teaching social skills can be more difficult with only one child. 

When your only child is gifted, well, that comes with its own awesome advantages and new concerns. 

Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

So what’s it really like to homeschool a gifted child? Keep reading to get the scoop on what has made it challenging. Plus, some of our favorite advantages and success stories while homeschooling a gifted only child.

Homeschooling One Child, Not Necessarily An Only Child

A common misconception about homeschooling an only child is that most people think you have only one child. There are many kinds of reasons why you may choose to homeschool a single child, including age gaps and special circumstances. Whatever the reason, homeschooling only one doesn’t mean there’s only one.

Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

There are lots of reasons a parent might choose homeschooling one child but not the others. Oftentimes these reasons include health concerns for the child or special needs that make traditional schooling less than ideal. Sometimes parents choose to homeschool one child because of special gifts or talents. For example, many elite gymnasts and dancers are homeschooled. 

Sometimes you find yourself homeschooling an only because the other kids have completed their education or there’s a significant age gap between siblings. The bottom line is that homeschooling only one child doesn’t mean that’s your only child and that’s ok too.

Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

Is It Helpful To Homeschool A Gifted Only Child?

If you’re still deciding whether or not to homeschool your gifted only child, you might have some concerns. There are a lot of myths about homeschooling gifted children and myths about homeschooling an only child too. 

One of the top myths about homeschooling a gifted only child centers around socialization fears. Homeschoolers are not strangers to the socialization argument, but it can be a real concern when you’re homeschooling only one child.

If you’re your child’s only source of socialization throughout the homeschool day, you might have extra concerns about homeschooling a gifted only child. After all, gifted kids can struggle with anxiety, emotional intensity, and existentialism.

So how do you socialize an only child while homeschooling? The easiest way to overcome this hurdle is by teaching your child to interact with people of all ages. Then, take advantage of opportunities to socialize and practice social skills in the community.

Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

What It’s Really Like To Homeschool A Gifted Child Alone

Homeschooling a gifted child alone can definitely be challenging at times, but there are also lots of amazing successes that come from this unique journey. 

The Struggles

There are a few unique challenges to homeschooling with just one child. For example, homeschooling only one child means I have to be on all day. There are no other kids for her to interact with during a typical homeschool day and there are no other teachers to ask questions.

Sometimes I struggle with the stress of being all the things. I’m her teacher, her mom, her playmate, her sounding board, everything.  At times, wearing all those hats can be difficult. This unique stress is called safe place fatigue and it can be exhausting. Being your child’s everything all the time isn’t always easy. 

Taking time for myself when possible is a really important part of regrouping at the end of a long day or week. It really helps me to prepare for another week of homeschooling my gifted only child.

The Successes

Homeschooling an only child can be great! We have had a lot of challenges, but we have also experienced a lot of amazing successes. Here are some of our favorite things about homeschooling our only child:

  • More one on one time together
  • Less cost means we can do more 
  • Homeschooling an only takes less time
  • Opportunities to build strong relationships

Homeschooling A Gifted Only Child

In the end, homeschooling a gifted only child is not without its challenges, but there are many amazing advantages and opportunities too. I absolutely think that the advantages far outweigh the challenges.

homeschool checklist

This post was written by Jessica Waldock, a longtime reader and friend of Raising Lifelong Learners and the owner of The Waldock Way. Her daughter Emily is one of the most creative and precocious children I know and her giftedness is a part of all they do in their homeschool. 

Jessica has created a free grade level checklist to help parents plan their year that are ideal for parents of asynchronous kiddos. You can take a peek at skills that are typically taught for all grade levels and use these to best plan for your homeschool year (and they are FREE – thanks Jessica!)

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Homeschool Planning For Kids: Helping Your Child Get Organized

homeschool planning for kids helping your child get organized

Every year about this time, we begin to plan for and discuss our upcoming homeschool year. It’s like a homeschool mom annual ritual. But what about our children? Homeschool planning for kids is a helpful skill to develop and is essential as our children graduate and move into the world. 

In this practical and down-to-earth episode of the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast, Colleen and Shawna discuss the ins and outs of helping your child plan their homeschool days, weeks, and months.


Homeschool Planning For Kids

Homeschool Mom Planning

For most of us, homeschool planning just comes with the territory. Love it or hate it, planning is a part of helping our children learn. This includes everything from the daily plans we create to accomplish tasks to the curriculum choices we make year by year. 

Because it is such an integral part of our lives as homeschool parents, we are devoting an entire month to the topic of planning in The Learners Lab

But one thing we often don’t discuss is how to help our children begin to be a part of the planning process. 

homeschool planner

Helping Our Kids Homeschool Plan: Ages and Stages

How our kiddos contribute to the homeschool plan obviously varies by age and developmental ability. However, intentionally finding ways to involved our children in the planning process has many benefits including:

1. Less Resistance.

If they are a part of the decision-making, our children are less likely to resist and more likely to engage in our plans. 

2. Increased Executive Functioning

For many neurotypical children, executive function skills do not come naturally. Incorporating planning into your homeschool learning and routine helps to strengthen these skills.

3. Easier Overall, Especially Over Time

The more our children get involved and take on in terms of their own personal time management, organization, and planning, the less we have to do as their parents and the smoother our days become.

homeschool planning

A Visual Resource To Help Your Child Plan

You can use this free download to map out your days WITH your child just like Shawna talks about in the episode. It’s also a great tool to use as a “backward planning sheet” if you would rather reflect on the things you’ve accomplished after you’ve completed them. (Note: I’m using these in each of my kids’ binders this year to give them a simple tool to help them work on their executive function skills and take charge of their own days!)

Click here to subscribe

Raising Lifelong Learners Episode #130: Homeschool Planning For Our Kids

Homeschool planning really can be our children’s job as well. This episode covers it all, from the executive function needed to support planning, to how Dora the Explorer helped Shawna figure out how to help her young son organize his days. You do not want to miss this one!


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

2021-2022 Student Planner - Academic Year 2021-2022 Planner from July 2021 to June 2022, 11

Dated Middle School or High School Student Planner for Academic Year 2021-2022 (Block Style - 8.5Student Academic Organizer - 8.5Raising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyHomeschooling Your Child With Special Needs: Practical Support And Encouragement For Learning With DifferencesThe Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their LivesTime to Get Started: A Story About Learning to Take Initiative (Executive Function)Smart but Scattered: The RevolutionaryThe Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder: Strategies to help your child achieve the time-management skills, ... needed to succeed in school and lifeYour Kid's Gonna Be Okay: Building the Executive Function Skills Your Child Needs in the Age of AttentionRaising an Organized Child: 5 Steps to Boost Independence, Ease Frustration, and Promote Confidence


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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An Excellent Way To Add Travel To Your Homeschool

an excellent way to add travel to your homeschool

Educational travel  is a wonderful way to foster learning. Are you looking for ways to add travel to your homeschool? This is an excellent option!

travel and your homeschool

The summer before I began high school, my parents saved up enough money for me to go on a field trip to Washington D.C. with my eighth grade gradating class. I am the eldest of four children, so I knew they had to sacrifice to allow me the opportunity. I was absolutely thrilled. 

It was a better investment than they could’ve known. The week was one of the absolute best of my childhood. We saw Lincoln’s Memorial and The Washington Monument. We saw the Declaration Of Independence, with John Hancock’s signature clearly visible from the roped off visitor area. The eternal flame still burns bright in my memory, more than 30 years later.

It was, by far, one of the most educational experiences of my life. 

travel and your homeschool

I was compensated for my time in writing and sharing this post. I only share resources that I believe work well for families like mine.

As a homeschool mom, over the years I have often thought about that trip and wondered how it might be replicable for my boys. 

Not just the sites themselves, but the tour guides and experts that we interacted with throughout the trip, and the other kids I learned alongside of.

It seemed impossible to actually capture the same level of involvement in the learning.

Then I learned about Academic Expeditions. 

travel and your homeschool

Academic Expeditions: Customizable Travel Experiences For Homeschoolers

Academic Expeditions offers customizable educational travel experiences just like what I experienced as a teen.  The good news is they are now offering homeschool specific options for expert-led educational travel!

travel and your homeschool

Why Use An Independent Company For Educational Homeschool Travel?

Not only does using this type of tour company make things easier in terms of planning, but there is an extra level of safety and security, as the guides are all well aware of the area and the accommodations carefully selected.

Academic Expeditions guides are well-trained and provide customizable educational activities for your group. 

homeschool travel

How It Works

You organize your own group of 10 or more homeschoolers and families. (If you don’t have a group of 10, Academic Expeditions also offers open group trips.) They do ALL the planning. You just show up and they take it from there. 

This includes: 

    Academic Expeditions leaders are present during every moment of the tour for added safety, education, and sense of well-being. Their relational engagement in and in-between cities will add a sense of security and continuity to the educational information they also provide.
    Accommodations are always in safe areas. For student groups we hire trusted private security on our floors throughout the night.
    Meals are all premium quality and our restaurant choices generally include a variety of historic inns, taverns, and finer dining experiences.
    Entrance fees to all museums, sites, and programming as listed on your itinerary, including evening activities such as theatrical productions (Broadway shows) and sports events (baseball games, etc).
  • NAME BADGES   (Every participant receives a personalized, laser-engraved name tag with a 24-hour emergency contact number)

Academic Expeditions learning programs are accredited by educational bodies supporting middle school all the way through university level learning. 

homeschool travel

Academic Expeditions For Your Homeschool

There are several additions to the 2022 travel schedule that are specific to homeschool families

Take a look at some of the offered experiences – 

  • Costa Rica – River Rafting, Gold Museum Tour, A Visit To A Biological Reserve, A Volcano Experience,  A Volunteer Program at a Animal Wild Rescue Center, Surfing, and more.
  • Paris and Normandy – History-based heritage sites and visits to national cemeteries, the private historian tour about the Allied Forces invasion at Normandy, travel to American Cemetery, nature and art experiences, The Louvre, Versailles and more. 
  • Chicago Science Trip – A boat cruise to learn about the rivers and canals of the Chicago River System, An Architecture Tour and History of The Chicago Skyline Experience, Aquarium visit, Museum of Science and Industry, and more.
  • DC – Capitol Hill, The Supreme Court, The Library Of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, The National Mall, Mt Vernon, The Spy Museum, The Bible Museum, all Monuments, and more. (This sounds similar to the one I experienced as a child!)
  • New York City via the Subway – Empire State Building Tour, The Stature Of Liberty and Ellis Island, The 9-11 Memorial, Walk the Highline and the Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden and/or Radio City Music Hall behind the scenes tours, Free time for Times Square, Central Park, etc. plus a Broadway Show and more.

There are also many other tours to consider, including a Boston trip that looks like a great fit for my history buff son. 

homeschool travel

I want to encourage you to take a look at all Academic Expeditions has to offer. I can tell you from my own experience, this is a learning opportunity that makes a significant impact on lifelong learners!

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Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler

nurturing your gifted toddler

In this episode of The Raising Lifelong Learner’s podcast, Colleen addresses a common concern – the uncertainty of parenting and nurturing a gifted toddler. 

The pediatrician looked up from his checklist and asked, “how many words can she say?” and I kind of looked at him funny. “It’s okay if she’s not saying a lot right now. She’s only 18 months, so don’t panic. Language will develop over the next few months and years.”

He smiled reassuringly, and I stammered, “No-o-o-o-o. It’s not that. I just don’t think I can actually count the words she can say, so I’m not sure how to answer your question. She can say anything you or I can say.”

I could tell that, not only didn’t he believe me, but he thought I was one of those moms. Like I was trying to make my kid seem more than she was. And I couldn’t blame him, really. Molly looked like a typical toddler, running her fingers along the multicolored shape stickers on his desk, humming softly to herself.

gifted toddler

And then she stopped, turned, and spoke.

“Doctow Cat-an-zawwo? Why do you have two parallelogram stickers on the desk when you only have one of every other shape? Shouldn’t you only have one of those? Or maybe you can add another of each of the other shapes to make it even. I don’t really like when things aren’t even. And, do you have more of these stickers? Can I have some? I like shape stickers.”

The pediatrician, Dr. Catanzaro, looked at me, mouth agape, and said, “I have colleagues with whom I’ve worked for over 20 years who can’t pronounce my name that well. I guess she really can talk…” And he made some notes on his checklist.

Parenting gifted children can be full of uncertainty.

Should I push her?

What if I don’t give him what he needs?

Do I need to get her tested?

How do I know for sure?

Here’s the thing… you do know.

You’re an amazing, insightful, and perfect parent for the little guy or gal in front of you. Nurturing a gifted toddler is an adventure… so let’s develop a roadmap to help you along the way.

What Does a Gifted Toddler Look Like?

If you’re reading this post, you probably have a general idea about what a gifted toddler looks like. Right? We parents know our kids, no matter how much we collectively doubt ourselves.  There are some traits, though, that can give you a clue you might just be raising a poppy kiddo.

Remember… All gifted kiddos share some characteristics, but the very defining one — asynchrony — means that they definitely don’t look alike. So, your child may not exhibit all of these traits. It’s kind of a checklist of sorts to give you an idea of some things you might notice if your toddler is gifted.

Related: Young Gifted Children | Reflections from ParentsNurturing Gifted Toddlers

You may recognize some of these traits:

  • As infants, your kiddos became fussy if they faced the same direction for too long.
  • They were very alert and wide-eyed as babies.
  • Your toddler seems to need way less sleep than others his or her age, and did as an infant as well.
  • He or she met milestones like walking, rolling over, and talking dramatically ahead of schedule.
  • Some gifted babies and toddlers may have spoken later than most kids, but used complete sentences once speech began.
  • They expressed an acute desire to explore, take things apart, put things together, and understand their environment.
  • They often mastered their toys and games earlier than children their age, then discarded them for new games and toys.
  • He or she is very active and can be impulsive and intense.
  • They can often tell between fact and fiction early on.
  • They’re concerned with big issues early on.

Some gifted toddlers show an intense interest in numbers, letters, or other concepts. Some of our gifted toddlers will read early — that precocious 18 month old in the opening story taught herself to read by three. Some won’t, and that’s okay, too. My oldest kiddo (who’s been identified as profoundly gifted) didn’t read until much, much later, and still chooses to read books below his age level.

What Are Some of the Challenges That Come with Raising Young Gifted Kids?

Gifted toddlers, like all gifted individuals, are asynchronous. This asynchrony gives you a kiddo who might be intellectually ready to solve problems and build things, but who lacks the fine motor skills and planning to be able to pull it all off.

One of the biggest challenges is to find activities that are age-appropriate, but still advanced enough for a gifted kiddo. Though, an often underestimated challenge can be the puzzled, judgmental, and knowing looks that come from family, friends, and strangers. The challenge of being misunderstood or accused of hothousing — or “pushing” your child to perform.

My friend compared raising her young, profoundly gifted daughter to being stapled to a cheetah. She’s just holding on for dear life as that little bundle of inquisitiveness drags her along for the ride.

And the intensity. Oh, boy.

Gifted kiddos — including your precious toddler — can be very intense. Those intensities can be:

  • emotional – high highs, low lows… and a mixture of both at the same time with extremes and complexities.
  • physical – those big emotions take on physical symptoms with our bright tots… tummy aches, headaches, and more.
  • behavioral – shyness, separation anxiety, overconfidence, being too comfortable with strangers, ultra impulsive, deep inhibition, the list (and contradictions) goes on.

Gifted toddlers can have deep fears and anxieties. They feel guilt, concerned about death, like they’re not in control, and can seem deeply thoughtful or depressed. They can have deep emotional ties to people, places, or things.

Related: Gifts for Children with AnxietyNurturing Your Gifted Toddler

How Do You Nurture Giftedness in Toddlers?

The best advice I can give — after raising four toddlers (gifted and twice-exceptional) is to relax and trust your gut. Really.

Forget about what everyone else says.

Forget all the parenting books (they’re not going to apply to you anyway).

Forget about what’s “normal.”

Follow your kid. Meet your child where he or she is and help them find new ways to learn every single day. It’s exactly what all parents do for their toddlers. It just looks a little different for parents of gifted toddlers.

One of my eldest’s (now 15) first words was Macedonia. As in, “let’s go to Macedonia to watch trains.” He was obsessed with trains. He watched kids’ shows and documentaries and old news reels about trains. He listened to books about trains. He knew the history of the railroad and all the different important trains from all of history before he was four. He couldn’t yet read. He barely drew. He was impulsive and inattentive at his daycare. He wouldn’t sit still unless someone was sharing something about trains — though not the kids’ trains with faces. He had no use for those.

This went beyond a little guy’s interest in trains. He needed to know it all. So we fed him books, movies, toys, and trips to the trainyard in Macedonia. We sat by the tracks for hours, waiting for one train to pass, sharing snacks and train stories. Today he doesn’t remember all that he once knew, but he still adores trains and gets together with my father-in-law and his train buddies regularly to work on model railroad layouts and talk about the good ole days of the steamers.

I didn’t worry about meeting his potential and I didn’t feed him flashcards and workbooks.

But, guess what?

I did shower my now 10 year old with workbooks, worksheets, and flashcards as a toddler. That 18 month-old who stood but a minute off the floor as she peered at the pediatrician and asked for shape stickers adored nothing more than sitting at “her” desk (a tot-sized table in the kitchen) and banging out workbook pages. She taught herself to read by three. She cried at two when she realized that she was not getting on the big yellow school bus with her brother.

So we enrolled her in a 2yo preschool that met one morning each week. And she begged for more school. So we signed her up for another day at a different preschool so she could have two mornings of “school” and three mornings of “homeschool” while big brother was gone during the week.

Many accused me of hothousing that kiddo (pumping her full of info so she seemed smart), but I was just trying to keep her insatiable thirst quenched.

Two gifted toddlers.

Two very different needs.

If I were to have given that first one workbooks and flashcards, he would have rebelled and fought me every step of the way. If I were to have only fed the second one books, videos, and trips to a favorite place, she would have withered.

Related: 101 Reasons Eclectic Homeschooling Works for Gifted Kids Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler

Trust yourself that you know your toddler better than anyone else does and give him or her exactly what they need. Explore language and numbers, science and nature, communities and laws together. Ask loads of questions and answer all of theirs. Make it a point to look up answers together sometimes — it’s important from early on that your gifted kiddo see that you don’t have all the answers and that you’re not afraid to admit it. Play lots of music in the house. Take your little ones to free outdoor concerts and performances during the spring and summer so they can get an early appreciation for the arts. Experiment with as many different types of art mediums as you can with them when they’re young.

Buy open-ended gifts for all occasions. Line your walls with books. Play games early and often. Ask for family memberships to museums and zoos instead of toys your gifted kiddo will lose interest in for holiday gifts from relatives.

Remember that you’re the perfect parent for your gifted kiddo. You really do know what your child is capable of and needs. You may be in for a wild ride now that you find yourself raising a gifted toddler, but it’ll never be dull.

And when you’re little one shows what he or she is capable of — whether it’s to a stunned pediatrician, a family member, a friend, or a stranger on the playgroup — it’s okay to puff out your chest and say that yes, you do know how amazing he or she is. Talking in full sentences at 18 months is fantastic. Reading at three is amazing. Knowing the detailed history surrounding all steam, diesel, and mag-lev trains by four is awesome.

Be proud and let your kiddos hear you say that they’re amazing and you’re absolutely amazed to be their parent. The more you get used to it now when they’re toddlers, the easier it’ll be as they get older and need to hear you bragging about them. You’ve got this.

nurturing your gifted child

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #129: Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Parents' Guide to Raising a Gifted Toddler: Recognizing and Developing the Potential of Your Child from Birth to Five Years

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing MindExciting Sensory Bins for Curious Kids: 60 Easy Creative Play Projects That Boost Brain Development, Calm Anxiety and Build Fine Motor SkillsParenting a Strong-Willed Child: How to Effectively Raise High Spirited Children or ToddlersThe Rainy Day Toddler Activity Book: 100+ Fun Early Learning Activities for Inside Play (Toddler Activity Books)The Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity: Games, Projects, and Pastimes That Encourage a Child's Learning and Imagination100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: Become an Expert on Bugs, Beetles, Worms, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Plants and MoreRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyThe Ultimate Toddler Activity Guide: Fun & educational activities to do with your toddler (Early Learning)Teach My Toddler Learning KitThe Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being


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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Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

helping anxious children and their siblings

Colleen answers a frequently asked question today on the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast: How do you help siblings understand when one child has anxiety? This episode is all about helping anxious children and their siblings.


Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

Anxiety and Gifted/Twice Exceptional Children

We all experience anxiety at some point or another.  Worrying and stress is a natural part of being human. 

Anxiety is also quite common in the world of neurodiversity. For gifted children and twice exceptional kids, worrying and stress can be intense and overwhelming,

Among profoundly gifted children, anxiety can manifest in multiple ways. For example, students may have fears about being away from their parents that decreases participation in extracurricular activities and social events. Given their propensity for perfectionism, profoundly gifted children can manifest fears of failure and go to unrealistic lengths to have their products be free of errors. If given corrective feedback, they may have trouble “turning off” these messages and begin to believe there is something “wrong” with them. Other profoundly gifted children may have fears of being in public or in large groups and avoid such situations. In some cases, the children’s fear response can be quite intense, overwhelming, and scary. 

The Davidson Institute

For most of us, this is just part of our lives as parents of gifted and twice exceptional children.

But what happens when your child is experiencing anxiety that goes far beyond the norm, and begins to influence family dynamics and sibling relationships?

Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings


Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #128: Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

In this helpful and encouraging episode, Colleen shares examples and solutions for helping your entire family navigate your gifted child’s anxiety, 


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Raising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent Family

Helping Your Anxious Child: a Step-by-Step Guide for ParentsWorking with Worry: A Workbook for Parents on How to Support Anxious ChildrenAnxious Mom, Anxious Child: A Mother's Journey from Anxiety to SerenityFreeing Your Child from Anxiety, Revised and Updated Edition: Practical Strategies to Overcome Fears, Worries, and Phobias and Be Prepared for Life--from Toddlers to TeensRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenUnderstanding Your Anxious Child: A parents guide to helping kids overcome their fears and anxiety to live a carefree childhoodAnxiety Relief for Kids: On-the-Spot Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Worry, Panic, and AvoidancThe Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activitis to Nurture Developing Minds (Practical Excercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture)


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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7 Executive Functioning Activities for Small Children

7 executive functioning activities for small children

The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, scarves, and hats were strewn all over the floor — right next to the shelves and hooks on which they belonged. When I told my kids to bring their things to the basement, I wasn’t specific enough, I guess.

I didn’t help them scaffold and build their executive functioning skills and so, while I was frustrated, it was mostly with myself.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children-The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, and hats were all over... I was frustrated with the lack of executive functioning skills my kids displayed.

What is Executive Function?

The official definition of executive functions is that they are a set of processes that have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

To help your child develop proper executive function skills you must be willing to allow your child to fail.

You need to give your kiddo a chance to figure things out for himself. If your child is attempting something that you know he can do then step back. However, this needs to be balanced with helping when necessary so the child doesn’t get too frustrated.

Basically, parent your child to be autonomous.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children


Activities for Young Children to Aid Executive Function Skills

Ask your child explain or teach you something. When you know something well enough you can teach it to someone else. This skill shows not only understanding of order but memory. Pick something simple such as making a sandwich or how to wash a dish.

Play games. Games provide an opportunity to exercise memory, order, and following rules in a low stress and fun way.



Use a multisensory approach when assigning tasks. Orally explain task such as a bedtime routine to your child. If your child is old enough to read, then write the routine down. If not, create a pictorial routine. You may want to explain the routine while playing hopscotch or throwing a ball back and forth.

Encourage flexible thinking. Take an ordinary object and ask your child what it can be used for. Try to encourage your child to come up with as many out of the box ideas as possible.

Use simple worksheets to practice following directions. Puzzles, activities, and worksheets help little ones scaffold their direction following so that they can eventually follow multi-step directions without getting hung up. Try simple worksheets like the one below to practice on. (You can download your own copy of this worksheet for free by clicking the download now button and entering your email address. It will come right to your inbox.)

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Wordplay. Another way to encourage flexible thinking is with wordplay. You can create puns, read Amelia Bedelia books together, or tell silly jokes.

Encourage organization simply. If your child has a terrible time keeping her room organized, then provide simple solutions. Provide supply caddies and tote boxes that are clearly marked. For instance, put stuffed animals in one tote and shoes in another or whatever works for you. Use a supply caddy for art supplies so your child can easily see when something is out of place and correct it.

Simple steps that are visual can help a child practice organization.

Got any other tips for teaching little ones executive functioning skills? Share in the comments.

For more great parenting tips check these out:



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Twice Exceptional Children And Homeschooling: What It’s Really Like

twice exceptional children and homeschooling what its really like

There are a lot of misconceptions about twice exceptional children and homeschooling. In this episode of the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast, Colleen shares what it’s really like to homeschool a twice exceptional child, both as a gifted education specialist and a homeschooling parent.


twice exceptional kids


Twice Exceptional Defined

Twice exceptional is the label given to kids that are identified as gifted and also have a learning difficulty of some sort. Some may have learning disabilities, anxiety issues, Tourette Syndrome, ADD with or without hyperactivity, sensory processing disorders, while others may suffer from anxiety disorders or depression. The combinations are varied, as are the “symptoms” that lead to a diagnosis… or misdiagnosis. 

Because of the complexities of both giftedness and learning differences combined, twice exceptional children often struggle in the traditional school environment. 

twice exceptional kids

Twice Exceptional Children And Homeschooling

Because of the unique abilities and needs of a twice exceptional learner, I believe that homeschooling is a wonderful option and is often the “best fit” educationally.

It allows parents to become students of their own children and put together an educational plan that is tailor-made for their child.

twice exceptional and homeschooling

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #127: What It’s Really Like To Homeschool A Twice Exceptional Child

Colleen shares what it’s really like to homeschool a twice exceptional child, from her perspective as a gifted specialist and as a homeschooling mom.


Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Raising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent Family

Raising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for Children100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: Become an Expert on Bugs, Beetles, Worms, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Plants and MoreTwice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted StudentsMisdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition)Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsHome Learning Year by Year, Revised and Updated: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool CurriculumHomeschooling Gifted Kids: A Practical Guide to Educate and Motivate Advanced LearnersThe Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System - and How to Fix It


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!