Friday, July 31, 2015

Weekend Fun- Part 2

I told you we had a lot of fun this weekend exploring our great new state. Well, Sunday DH and A decided to take the rest of us to see where they spent last weekend camping and fishing.
It's an easy 2 hour drive from our house and absolutely beautiful!
A had to take me down to the creek where she caught all her rainbow trout last week.
...and Little W got to touch another little fish.
A is super into this fly fishing thing. It's awesome to see her learning a new skill and working hard at it.

You know a great time was had when the little one crashes.
Loving Montana summers!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Weekend Fun- Lake Frances

We are loving the outdoor opportunities that Montana has to offer! This past weekend we spent both Saturday and Sunday exploring our new state. After the parade Saturday, we headed about 30 minutes south to the tiny town of Valier and The Lake Frances Recreation Area.
Little W is a water baby. He was in heaven and the water was surprisingly warm.

A spent her time exploring and building with the natural materials that abounded. This is her in her element. I love that she has spent her childhood immersed in nature.
Eventually Little W stripped down and found his happy place splashing in the lake.
After playing at the beach, we met up with some friends and took a fun boat ride and attempted to fish, but nothing was biting. That didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves. We came home happy, tired, and contented after a day of soaking up the sun.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Small Town America- Parade Time!

I love small town life. Small town Montana has the same feel as Alaska. Everyone is welcoming, we are already quickly getting to know people, and the pace of life is a breath of fresh air.

This weekend is the annual Lewis and Clark Festival here in town. Apparently this is a REALLY big deal here. On top of that, this weekend is the all class reunion for the local high school, so our small town is really hopping. Friday was the Chili Cookoff and activities for all ages in the town park. DH's board competed in the chili cookoff, and while their chili didn't win, I have to say their margaritas were top notch :) Saturday morning was the parade. We got to ride in the truck for DH's work and throw candy, and since we were at the front of the parade, we also were able to pull over at the end and take in the rest of the parade as it went by.


Part of the festivities this weekend is a classic car show, and at least 20+ took part in the parade. The kids were fascinated, and A said she had seen so many of those in her history books!

A dancing chicken from the local pizza hut kept the kiddos entertained while we lined up and waited for the parade to start.

We had Miss Montana, who is from our little town, grace the parade....


As well as the Shriners. Seriously what parade is truly complete without these guys!



Little W really enjoyed himself too. So much to see and take in. New experiences everywhere he looked.




You know you are in farm country when half a dozen huge farm equipment machines take part in the parade!


I don't think A had ever seen anything so big up close. Look at her showing how tall the wheels were. Amazement!


Yes, that whole entire bag is full of candy thrown from the parade. I don't think any kid went home empty handed today. That stash should last awhile, but this mama might have to sneak some of the chocolate out of it.....Shhh don't tell on me!

Even little W got in on the candy action!

Completely in love with this small town life.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Resources for homeschooling a gifted child

Homeschooling a Profoundly Gifted child is easy in some ways (the fact that she almost always instantly grasps a subject means I am very rarely frustrated that she just isn't getting something, plus not having to teach her to read, yes that was a huge plus), but it is definitely not without its challenges. There is no straight path with these kids. No plan laid out, K-12, knowing what to expect. I honestly don't know when A will graduate, what age she will be ready for college classes or how I will go about navigating those years. What I do know is that with the advent of the internet age, parents of gifted kids no longer have to navigate those waters alone.

Tonight I wanted to share with you some resources for homeschooling gifted children. Some I have used, some I plan on using in the future, and some I just know about but do not have personal experience with.

The first place to start if you are new to this homeschooling a gifted child gig, is to remember to not be confined by the curriculum. You know your child. It's okay to skip grades, to skip sessions, to skip practice problems in math, etc. A just finished 5th grade Teaching Textbooks, we skipped a good portion of the beginning because it is review and honestly she doesn't need it. We skipped lessons here and there throughout because she had already grasped the material, and we are skipping 6th grade all together and going into 7th this coming school year, with plans to skip portions of that as well. She is 8, and would be going into third grade. Repetition to these kids is torture.

First off I want to share a list of general websites that I go to for support.These are full of information regarding all aspects of gifted parenting, schooling, and life in general. If you've read my blog before, you have probably seen some of these mentioned before. This is a great place to dive in and get your feet wet if you are new to this journey.

Gifted Support Websites

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page- The "all things gifted" page. A go to resource perfect for beginners. Explains testing, levels of giftedness, includes many articles on all aspects of gifted life and education.

SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted)- Full of great resources, seminars, online and in person support groups.

Davidson Institute for Talent Development- Provides support for profoundly gifted children from 5-18, but includes a database of articles and also parent support forums. Anyone can join these.

Gifted Homeschoolers- a wonderful website with forum, articles, and even online classes for gifted students.

A great thing about homeschooling a gifted child in today's world is that you really and truly are not alone. There are now classes for gifted children online. Classes that move at a pace they can relate to, with other gifted peers, so that even if you live in small town USA, these resources can ease some of the isolation gifted children often feel.

Online Classes for Gifted Students

This is a list of places for gifted students to take online classes and interact with other gifted peers. Now that we live where we have decent internet A will be taking her first online class this coming semester.

Online G3- G3 offers a variety of online classes for students working on a junior high through high school level. There is no age limit to their courses which is a huge plus for profoundly gifted kids, and they encourage acceleration. A will be taking Horrible Rome and Egypt this semester to correlate with our study of ancient history.

Gifted Homeschoolers- Gifted homeschoolers also offers online courses for gifted students. Unfortunately they do have age limits which can hinder a PG child's ability to move at their own pace. A was interested in one class this fall but they wanted students to be 13. We may try them out next semester though.

Athena's Advanced Academy- This is another site that offers online classes for gifted and advanced learners. What I like about this site is there is again no age limit. Classes have prerequisites of required reading or writing levels, etc., but as long as your child can handle the work then they can take the class. This is great for the extremely gifted student.

giftedandtalented.com(formerly Stanford EPGY)- I have heard many great reviews from this program before it changed names and leadership although we have not personally used it. Developed by Stanford University, it offers online courses in Math and Language arts for gifted students.

John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth- CTY offers talent searches, online courses, and summer programs for gifted students.

Duke TIP- This program through Duke University offers talent searches, independent study courses for gifted students, summer programs, and e-learning courses. A and I plan on checking out one of their independent study courses this year.

Well, that's it for tonight. I will be adding these and other resources to the Gifted Resources button at the top of the blog for quick and easy access. Parenting and homeschooling a gifted child can be overwhelming and at times a daunting task, I hope this helps you on your journey,


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Oh where has the time gone?

My little guy turned 1 year old at the end of last month! As I lay in bed snuggling him tonight I am amazed again at how quickly life moves as an adult. I remember the long days of childhood stretching endlessly before me growing up and looking with bewilderment at my mom as she spoke about the swift passage of time. I get it now mom. I wish I could freeze moments like these and yet I look forward with anticipation to watch my sweet boy blossom into his own little person.

At one, my little preemie has miraculously filled out to a plump 20lbs and some change. He is goofy, and stubborn, cuddly yet independent. On his birthday he was standing, now two weeks later he is walking! Well trying to run technically or looking like a little drunken sailor as he stumbles around, but either way it's really cute!
Little W already has a favorite show. He has loved the backyardigans since he was 7 months old. When it comes on he squeals, bounces, and dances along through the entire show, so of course we had to do a Pablo cake for his birthday. I spent all day in the kitchen but it was totally worth it!

My little guy was completely unsure about this whole cake thing.
He finally got into it, but it lasted all of 2 minutes before the tears started.

A quick dunk in the baby pool to clean off and it was time to open presents.

I can't believe an entire year has passed. I love you little dude.

Friday, July 17, 2015

For you, that parent, I write this post

We are approaching a new school year and the homeschool forums and facebook pages I am part of have been busy. New parents starting out on the homeschooling journey, veterans reassessing their options, families searching for a curriculum that will work for their child, and several times the topic of giftedness and acceleration have come up. I have seen several responses of "every child is gifted", and I know that to the parent who had asked a question regarding their child, this response was not what they were searching for. I remember starting out on this journey and looking for advice from people who had been there. When A started reading at 2.5, when she was assessed on a K and 1st grade level at 3, when at 4 the local elementary school told us that there was nothing they could do for her and that "sometimes gifted children just have to be miserable in elementary school", I was not looking for "every child is gifted". I was looking for guidance, for someone to understand that I was not bragging but truly wanted to know what to do with a child like this, I was looking for someone to understand and to give me direction. So for you, that parent, I write this post.

What is Gifted anyway?

Isn't every child gifted? If you're the parent of a gifted child, then you have heard some form of this phrase spoken a million times. While it's true that every child is a gift, it is not true that every child is gifted. Just as every child is not a gifted athlete or musician, every child is not gifted in the sense of what the word is given to mean in an educational setting.

So what is gifted?

Some professionals define the term gifted to be a score of two or more standard deviations above the norm on an intelligence test. This typically is a score of 130 or the top 2.5% of the population. Others consider it to be based on academic achievement with a child working several grade levels above his or her age.

One of the most respected definitions, and one I believe gives a better insight into the term, was given by the Columbus Group in 1991. "Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norn. This asynchrony increase with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally."

Asynchronous is the key in this definition. A gifted child is often many ages at once, She may be 8 chronologically, but able to understand and converse about physics on a college level, have math skills of a 14 year old, a vocabulary richer than many adults, but have the emotional maturity and social skills of a 6 year old, and possibly the hand writing of a 5 year old. This asynchronicity often causes the child to feel lost and to not know where their place is in the world.

Did you know there are different levels of giftedness?

Neither did I when I started this journey. I was identified as gifted as a child. I was lucky to live in an area with magnet schools and gifted programs and was able to get most of my needs met in this way. I had never heard nor considered different levels of giftedness until my daughter came along. Her experience with giftedness is as different from mine as night and day. Why? Well because I for one would be considered gifted or moderately gifted while my daughter falls in the exceptionally to profoundly gifted range. Remember that quote above? "This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity", yes it certainly does, and it makes our experiences navigating the world quite different.

Some of the best definitions of these levels of giftedness can be viewed on the Hoagies Gifted website.
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm
They do an excellent job breaking down the categories based on scores of different intelligence tests.

One of my first exposures to the levels of giftedness came from Dr. Ruf, a leading expert on gifted children, testing, and education. It came through the recommendation of her book "Losing our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind." If you are just embarking on this world of gifted advocacy and education, I highly recommend you start with this book. Much of the information can be found on her website as well.
http://www.talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates

The Davidson Institute also has a great article explaining what it means to be highly gifted,
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10093.aspx

The Davidson Institute is a great resource for parenting a gifted child. From their forums to their Young Scholars program which provides free services for profoundly gifted youth from ages 5-18, they are truly a go to resource.
http://www.davidsongifted.org/youngscholars/

Why does it matter?

Knowing a child is gifted and understanding the level of giftedness allows a parent and school to better advocate for and serve the child's educational and emotional needs. As I mentioned before, my daughter and I are worlds away from each other, in terms of what our needs are/were educationally, yet we are both identified as gifted. The needs of students at different levels of giftedness vary dramatically. You would not put a high school student in an elementary classroom, expect them to complete only that level of work, and to do it happily and without issue. That would be ludicrous. Yet it happens everyday in schools across America to highly and profoundly gifted students. It is in fact why we chose to homeschool. At 4, the local elementary school where we lived at the time told us "Sometimes gifted kids just have to be miserable in elementary school." This is not uncommon. Every day gifted students are placed with their age level peers and expected to complete their work with no differentiation, acceleration, or changes, even though they may have mastered the material years before. These children not only have already mastered the material but they also tend to learn quicker and think differently than their non gifted peers. Understanding the level of giftedness allows for one to truly grasp the level of change that may be needed in an educational setting. Remember that gifted is typically considered to be an IQ of 130 or greater, about 2 percent of the population. As scores increase the occurrence of a child at that levels becomes less and less. A profoundly gifted child may be at the 99.9th percentile or greater. The likelihood that a teacher or administrator has ever seen or experienced a child at that level decreases dramatically! We are talking about nationally 1 in 250,000 when scores reach that level. Understanding that allows for parents and educators to truly see the extent of acceleration and tailoring such a child's education will need to take.

2E

No that's not a typo. 2E in the gifted world stands for twice exceptional. One thing many people do not know is that gifted children can also suffer from disabilities. Learning disabilities, sensory processing disorders, and autism spectrum, can all be present in gifted children. Many of these children are left out of gifted programming or their parents are told "they can't be gifted" because of these exceptionalities and the role they can play in masking what is thought of as "typical" gifted academic achievement.

Overexcitabilities in the Gifted Child

This is a concept that I was completely unfamiliar with before embarking on this journey. In the gifted world you may hear the terms Dabrowski's Overexcitabilities and OE's used to describe the intensity, sensitivity, and overexcitability that research and observation have found to be primary characteristics of the highly gifted.

SENG has a great article discussing these OEs at length as well as giving tips on how to handle them. I find myself needing to refer back to this article quite often.
http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/overexcitability-and-the-gifted

Basically, the gist of the matter is that there are 5 categories of OE's, psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginative, and emotional. Not all gifted or highly gifted people will present with overexcitabilities, but it is much more common than in the general population.

Again, the Davidson Institute has several great articles pertaining to this subject.
"Overexcitability and the highly gifted child"
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10102.aspx
"Gifted Children: Emotionally Immature or Emotionally Intense"
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10241.aspx
"Tips for Parents Living with Intensity- Overexcitabilities in Profoundly Gifted Children."
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10735.aspx
and
"Foundations for understanding the social-emotional needs of the highly gifted"
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10161.aspx


Well, I think I have written enough for now to give you a good start in understanding what "gifted" is. I will be adding a page soon with links to many other resources for you to explore. I hope this helps.

-Amanda