Over the past couple of years I’ve participated in a number of groups for parents of gifted/2e children. I see the same questions voiced over and over again. I want to respond, but I don’t want to appear negative and I don’t have time to write out a lengthy response each time.
This post is that response. And it is lengthy.
If you are new to my site, I’m a former elementary teacher. I taught in private, Christian, Classical Christian and charter schools. I have a gifted/2e daughter who is currently nine. We have always homeschooled because I knew based on my time as a teacher that my daughter would not thrive in a traditional classroom. She’s too creative, imaginative, busy, and talkative to sit down and be quiet for eight hours a day. We have made and continue to make a lot of sacrifices to homeschool her because we truly believe it is our only choice. (I know this because I called our Blue Ribbon Elementary School in one of the top districts in our state last year just to confirm that it would never work.)
I give that background because I think some people might find this post harsh. It isn’t meant that way. It IS meant as a tough love post. I’m writing what I know from experience as a classroom teacher and what I have observed as the mother of a gifted/2e daughter.
Concerns Of Parents With A Gifted/2e Child
These are the topics people include when they are looking for advice about their gifted/2e child’s classroom experience (public and private). Each post is usually some combination of several of these.
- My child is in K/1st/2nd grade.
- She reads at a 4th/5th/6th grade level.
- He is really into science/math/history/geography.
- She loves to read.
- He’s bored in the classroom.
- She gets one hour of gifted pull-out a week.
- He’s getting into trouble for talking/joking/correcting the teacher.
- The public/private school is small and they tell us they want to work with us.
- They know my child is gifted.
- They acknowledge my child has needs.
- The teacher is giving my child MORE work but not more CHALLENGING work.
- The teacher isn’t doing anything extra for my child.
- The teacher doesn’t use my suggestions for what my child needs.
- The teacher says she will do things for my child, but never follows through.
Do any of those sound familiar?
Are you ready for reality?
Are you sure?
Okay, here are the cold, hard facts. Are there schools and teachers that are exceptions to what I’m about to write? Of course. But this is the reality in the vast majority of schools, even in the “great” districts.
The Classroom Is For Mass Education
The traditional classroom is set up to educate as many children as possible as efficiently as possible. It is designed for the middle of the pack academically.
- The classroom is not designed for gifted/2e children.
- The curriculum is not created for gifted/2e children.
- The schedule is not created for gifted/2e children.
The entire premise of classroom education and schools is to educate as many children as possible as efficiently as possible. Educating intellectual outliers does not fit with a mass education model.
Standardized Tests Drive Everything
Testing drives everything. Teachers spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy on testing. They are forced to teach to the test. They spend many days giving tests (which are often developmentally inappropriate but that’s another post for another day).
Most teachers are constantly having to relearn what they need to focus on because the bureaucrats are constantly changing the testing. Testing, not learning, drives everything. If you have a gifted/2e child who loves to learn, he’s not going to be very happy in a classroom.
Teachers Are Measured By Test Results
Agree with it or not, this is the reality today. Teachers are measured by standardized testing results. Your gifted/2e child doesn’t negatively impact the teacher’s test results so therefore he is not a priority. By necessity priority will be given to children who are going to drag down the overall class score.
Science, History and Geography Aren’t Important
In an elementary school environment where testing drives everything, these are the least important subjects. It is all about reading, writing and math. If your gifted/2e child is captivated by advanced science, history and geography, she will be bored out of her mind with the things they will do on the elementary level – when they have the time to do them.
Meaningful Differentiation In Classrooms Rarely Happens
Differentiation is the buzz word today and parents of gifted children latch onto it like a life preserver. The reality is that most teachers do not have time to truly differentiate for children who are performing multiple grade levels above where they “should” be.
Teachers Don’t Understand Giftedness
When you realized your child was gifted, what did you do? You probably got on the internet and started reading anything and everything you could about giftedness. You found groups online where you could interact with other parents of gifted children and learn from their experiences.
You now know more about giftedness than most teachers who graduate with an education degree.
The reality is most teachers have little to no knowledge about giftedness. Put 2e into the mix and forget about it. If you ask a relatively new teacher to differentiate for your gifted child, odds are she is going to give MORE work, not work that will challenge your child’s intellect. It will be busy work. Teachers don’t understand giftedness, many can’t identify it, and most won’t know what to do about it.
And I can guarantee you, they don’t have time to learn about it either.
So they will put you off. Partially because they don’t have enough time. Partially because they don’t know what to do. And partially because they don’t want to admit that they don’t have any idea how to effectively educate your gifted/2e child.
The School’s Default Is Helping The Weakest
It is human nature to instinctively help those in need. If a teacher has multiple children in her class who are outside the normal curve, which ones will appear the most needy? The child who reads and does math two grades below grade level or the child who is two grades or more above grade level?
It is ALWAYS going to be the children who are struggling. That’s what a compassionate teacher will do, that’s what the IEPs will require, and that’s what her job depends on. (See standardized testing point above.)
The average classroom teacher is not going to view a gifted/2e child as having a legitimate educational need. Being above grade level does not indicate a need. Period.
Student Misbehavior Due To Boredom Is Your Problem
What do children do when they are bored? They find a way to entertain themselves. What do bored gifted/2e children do in the classroom? They talk. They entertain their classmates. They interject from their vast knowledge base when the teacher doesn’t want to be interrupted.
If your child is bored in the classroom, it is going to be your problem. The teacher doesn’t have time for witty kids, kids who correct them with detailed clarifications about the finer points of science, etc. Parents might see this as their child trying to contribute and be engaged. Sorry. That’s not the way it is in school. Your child will be seen as a disruptive behavior problem. And that is ultimately YOUR problem to fix, not theirs.
In fact, your child’s inability to sit down and be quiet like the rest of the students will be seen as purely a behavioral problem, not an intellectual problem. The average teacher is not going to think, “Wow. This child is so bright he’s bored so he’s trying to find anything to engage himself.” Not going to happen.
And some teachers will resent the child who creates problems and disruptions, gifted or not.
Private Schools Need Money
Some parents figure out that public schools aren’t going to work so they look into private schools. Great. Except private schools need tuition money. You have money for tuition. Therefore, they will often tell you whatever you need to hear in order to get you to enroll. That’s reality. They aren’t trying to be dishonest and I think most of them have the best of intentions. But there are far too many private schools that see dollar signs instead of a gifted child with unique needs they are going to have to meet.
The Administrators Said They Would Work With Us
This is more apt to be an issue in private schools. Because private schools need money (see above), they will promise you that they will be able to meet your child’s needs.
Who made that promise? The administrator who spends no time in the classroom? Or your child’s teacher?
Administrators need to keep enrollment numbers up. Just because the administrator says that they will work with you and meet your child’s needs, it doesn’t mean the classroom teacher is on board or even equipped to meet your child’s needs. Just because the administrator says they differentiate, it doesn’t meant they are going to meet your child’s academic needs.
Your Gifted Child Is Not A Top Priority
When a parent discovers her child is gifted, she immediately puts on her advocate hat. She knows that she is her child’s advocate. Her child’s educational needs become a top priority for her. She views everything through that advocate hat.
You know what? Your child is not the most important person in a teacher’s classroom. Your child may not even be in the top five or top ten.
That isn’t to say the teacher doesn’t like or enjoy your child. Your child might be one of his/her favorite students ever! But that isn’t the same thing as being a priority. You as a parent are your child’s advocate. The teacher is someone doing a job – teaching as many children as possible as efficiently as possible at one time (see above point). She/He will never ever care about your child and advocate for your child the way you will. It’s simply not possible.
Are You Depressed And Discouraged Now?
I hope not! That is not my intention.
I do hope that your eyes are opened to the reality of classroom education from a teacher’s perspective.
I know many people want to send their children to school for a variety of reasons such as:
- I want to work.
- I need to work.
- I don’t want to stay home with my kids.
- I want to support public education.
- I believe in public education.
- We want to be a part of the community.
- My child needs the social interaction.
- I want my child to have the school experience.
- I don’t want to homeschool.
- I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to expect my child to be educated according to his needs.
Those are all valid reasons.
But if you choose to send your gifted/2e child to school, you have to accept reality. You are trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
- You may not homeschool, but your child’s education is still going to fall on you. The school is not changing for you and your child.
- You will spend a lot of time advocating for your child. You will probably not be happy with the results much of the time.
- You are going to have to supplement their education after school and in the summer.
I know to parents of gifted children this post may be upsetting, but that’s the reality. There are only so many hours in the day and the teacher has to choose who she is going to help. She simply cannot be all things to all children. She can’t. It’s not physically possible. Trust me. I know this from first-hand experience.
What Should You Do With Your Gifted Child?
I can’t tell you what to do. Only you know your situation.
My goal in writing this post is not to convince you to homeschool. I do admit that my bias is that homeschooling gifted/2e children is usually (but not always) the best choice. But I also know that is not going to happen in every case for any number of reasons.
My goal is to open the eyes of parents with gifted children to the reality faced by a teacher in the classroom. I hope it helps you see things not just from your perspective as your gifted child’s advocate, but from the perspective of a teacher who probably does not have the time, skills, or energy to meet your child’s unique needs.
Whatever educational path you choose for your child, I sincerely wish you the very best!
Begin Understanding Your Child With My Short Ebook – Available Right Here in My Shop
Cait @ My Little Poppies
Bravo, Sallie!! I will be sharing- this is the cold, hard truth.
Thanks, Cait! I know you know the reality of things since you were in schools as well. 🙂
So, so , so good. Im doing a post grad degree on G&T education. Parents have NO IDEA what happens at school. Thank you excellent, excellent post
Thanks, Kim, for affirming what I wrote here. It’s good to hear it from people in the trenches!
Add another former teacher homeschooling her gifted child to your “Amen” list. I agree with everything you’ve said. It is the cold, hard, truth.
Gail Post, Ph.D.
This is a great list, clearly describing the reality of what goes on in most public and private schools. You clearly point out that even if parents of gifted children do not homeschool, the burden falls on the parents. They still have to advocate, challenge, and find additional resources for their children. There are many fabulous teachers out there, but they often do not have the training or the time to put energy into gifted children. And school policy frequently discourages them, and actually makes it more difficult by eliminating ability grouping and forcing them to take on differentiated instruction with large classrooms filled with widely diverse academic needs. Thanks for the very helpful article.
Thank you! I hope parents find this article helpful. It’s daunting to write such things because it isn’t what people want to hear. But I think it is far better to know the truth and face it head on than go around in circles wondering why nothing changes for your child.
What a true but hard-sad but real-tough truth. (I secretly wished you could tell us what to do!) We are wrestling with the idea of homeschooling, pros and cons, asking ourselves not “is it the right thing to do” but instead we keep focusing on the question: “Is it the right thing for our family to do?” The public school we are at is fantastic. The private school we like is too expensive. The sentence in your article that was most necessary for me to come to grips with was this:
“Differentiation is the buzz word today and parents of gifted children latch onto it like a life preserver. The reality is that most teachers do not have time to truly differentiate for children who are performing multiple grade levels above where they “should” be.”
I may not like the way this sounds, but I absolutely must accept that it is reality. In a perfect world there are 1000’s of things our educators would like to do differently. But we live in a real world. Our kids are growing up in the real world. So thank you for posting this tough truth that keeps me grounded. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this link.
Such a grim reality. In our case at the beginning of the year, we met with our son’s special ed teacher, and she’d never heard the term 2e or the full title of twice exceptional. She goes, “oh, you mean that he’s ADHD ?” …………………. cringe ………………..
His gen ed teacher at meeting prior to school, trying to explain to her what she was getting. “oh I’ve worked with lots of gifted kids” me (being sincere) “wow, really that’s awesome! Most teachers have such a hard time understanding the difference between a high achiever and a gifted student. ” at which point she fully back peddled and said ” oh, well I guess I’ve had a lot of high achievers not necessarily gifted” . At which point I knew we were in for another year of struggling with standards.
This was a great post – and I didn’t feel it was harsh at all! As you said, I began investigating schools when I suspected my son was gifted. He’s very sensitive and I knew he would be “eaten alive” by the kids in public schools – and we’re in a good district and could move if we needed to… We’ve been supremely blessed… It hasn’t been perfect. We first selected a private school that would cater to his sensitivities – which they did in spades! They were amazing and truly did everything they could to work with us. But it wasn’t enough. I finally concluded that homeschool was now “on the table” as an option. But we found an amazing school that shockingly has 8 very similar boys in one 2nd/3rd grade classroom with 2 fabulous teachers that know exactly how to teach them. We moved my son in the middle of the year and he’s thriving beyond my wildest dreams!!! I agree – it’s possible…but so highly unlikely. We were truly lucky and blessed. I thank my lucky stars every day that we have the ability to seek out such a private school and I’m so sad for all the gifted and 2e kids who have to be forced into round holes. When we moved my son, I explained that it wasn’t his fault (he didn’t want to change schools…) – he was the most amazing, sparkly, perfect and beautiful puzzle piece. And we just needed to find “his” puzzle that he would fit into. And he explained to his little brother that he was changing schools because “if the school has to beat on you and hammer you into the puzzle, it’s not the right puzzle for you.” That’s how these kids feel 🙁
Another former teacher turned homeschooler agreeing with you, Sallie! Public schools are not designed for gifted kids, and cannot accomodate them. They don’t do it intentionally, but they stifle them. And this is my opinion, but I think fewer elementary teachers are gifted themselves as opposed to high school teachers. So there is less understanding of and less ability to meet the needs of our children in the early years. It can be easier to find high school options that are good for gifted children, I think.
I have one foot in both worlds, as I think you know Sallie. In the educator world I was a teacher who actually did differentiate. So I can back you up on where the focus of differentiation is. It’s with the kids who can not ever succeed without additional support. Most teachers have the attitude that the gifted kids will “make it” with or without differentiation. That may be true. But a number of them will not succeed because at some point, often in secondary school, they are so fed up with what they’re being given to do that they will drop out. That’s just one of the ways that gifted kids can become casualties of the ways public schools are set up to operate.
In the “other” world I am the mother of a 2e child. He has both a processing speed disability and a gift for math and science. In school his disability was the focus of efforts to help him for all the reasons you mentioned, until he hit high school and a remarkable teacher (gifted himself) recognized my son’s gift in physics. Because of that teacher my son is now graduating from college in physics. He still can’t read very well. This is the reality of the 2e child. The focus in school will never be in their area of giftedness. The focus will be on whatever struggles they have. A good teacher will recognize the 2e child and nurture to the best of his or her ability, but they don’t have time to grade 183 final exams and prepare a different lesson for one child. That’s the hard truth. They don’t make a choice to not differentiate because they don’t care. They make that choice because they are human and there’s only so much they can do. If you have a 2e child you really have to consider where you want the focus of your child’s education to be. If you can homeschool, you can make the choice of where to focus. If you choose public or private school, that choice no longer exists for your child.
Ok, listen. I am a teacher in Australia, and I am a parent of two 2E children. I would like to argue here, that yes some of the points are true, but only for certain schools. Here it is all about which school you go to.. and it does not differ whether it is private or public. Some public schools are great and do all they can, within funding restraints, to differentiate, to support those with needs. In Australia, also, the curriculum is very centered around science, literacy and maths, so here Science is important, though there is not nearly enough focus on the Arts and therefore the creatively gifted miss out. As for inclusion, unfortunately, our biggest flaw, is all the focus is on the underachievers rather than the gifted, though, again it depends on the school. Our children go to a public school. They support them very well. They use an open learning programme which combines curriculum with differentiation – allowing children to work to their level, where ever that is at, and they do all they can, within their funding restraints, to support all children with special needs – gifted included. So I would ask, please do not be so narrow minded, every school is different just like every child is different, there are ways to make the school system work, it just takes the right people.
Thank you for your comment. Could you clarify what you see as narrow minded in my post or the comments? I said early on that there are teachers and schools that are the exception to what I’ve written.
I think there are many parents who want the system to work and end up homeschooling because after multiple years and seeing their child become angry, anxious and/or many other things, they feel they have no choice but to homeschool. It’s their child’s well-being at stake.
Perhaps part of it is a cultural difference as well. I’m not as knowledgeable about Australian schools as I am American. I’ve been in and out of a lot of schools and the vast majority are not set up to educate gifted children effectively. And they are definitely not equipped to educate 2e children. Here’s an interesting article about that I shared recently on my Facebook page. Please note the author’s remark in the comment section about the inability to successfully intervene on behalf of these children.
Oh Gosh… My son allegedly has PTSD from school experience.
I know what you’re saying Amanda… I am in Aus, and we home school as the local school (nor most others) couldn’t cater for my PG son. And we had all of the issues Sallie mentions when we were in school; plus the development of fairly severe anxiety.
” is all the focus is on the underachievers rather than the gifted” and none on the gifted underachievers…
I think your article hits the nail on the head. It is happening here in Australia too, although the schools and government will not admit this. There are very few schools, public, private or independent that cater to these kids. For the few good stories you hear (too few and far between), there are numerous horror stories also. It is so very sad, stressful and unpleasant for the students and their families. No wonder people home school. My experience in advocating in Australian Schools, the general consensus is parents do not know what they are talking about , schools don’t see you child “like that”, they isolate you, put the blame on parents and students, but don’t do anything at all to help. Basically you are a nuisance parent for advocating for your child. In Australia (and probably worldwide) there needs to be better teacher education and training about these students and accountability to help these students once identified. There are a few groups in Australia that understand these students – that have been set up to help advocate for them. Maybe our school systems should be reading what parents read… this I also found enlightening can a child be traumatised by school…… http://www.bigmindsunschool.org/can-a-child-be-traumatized-by-school-2/.
Thank you for your post and for explaining this so well! We just removed my gifted son from a private elementary. The school was great for my older (smart, but not gifted) son, but was a big miss for my younger (gifted) son, especially after they implemented Common Core.
Half-way through 1st grade he was asking if he could be homeschooled or go to a different school. He started calling himself stupid, hitting himself in the head, and demonstrating other self-injurious behaviors – at age 7. The school would only acknowledge his difficulties with writing and (in their view) difficulty focusing on classwork. The teacher would never acknowledge that he was gifted (and I don’t think she understood what that meant) or that he had aptitude above what they were teaching or that boredom might be causing inability to focus. He hated worksheets, and wouldn’t always finish them, so there was no way for me to advocate for more advanced work for him (particularly in math).
The teacher would assign him goals like “getting my work done right away” and “being a better listener at school” when he doesn’t have any issues with these things outside of that environment. It was all about compliance and the right behaviors.
We are trying a smaller school that promises to give him freedom of choice in his work and he can, hopefully, accelerate at his own pace. If that doesn’t work out, I will gladly homeschool him.
Thank you for helping me understand that our situation is not uncommon and that our son isn’t the problem, but rather, the way the system is set up.
Thank you for your perspective. We are starting year 3 of homeschooling our 7 year old son. When he was 4 years old steadily chipping away at the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading list (he’s been reading since age 1) and doing all the other square peg things, kindergarten registration was quickly approaching and for the first time ever homeschooling quickly became a very viable option…the only choice we would be able to live peacefully with. In a way I am thankful for his emotional overexcitability, because by age 4 I had figured out a thing or two, and knew better than to set him up for failure. I love him so much and knew he would be most happy here at home. I, too, had a meeting at the school with two kind and helpful professionals. One was a literacy specialist. She asked what he was reading. I told her he just completed “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” and that’s when my question about what the school could do to “differentiate” for my son was answered. I was shown a basket of 1st and 2nd grade reading materials that are reserved for the kids that are ahead and basically told that enriched reading materials beyond that level are not used for kindergarteners because of content. Hmm, I guess I naively thought that the easiest way to enrich for a child like this would be to at least let him read on his level. It requires nothing extra for the teacher. What’s really funny is my son can basically teach himself anything by reading about it. But, I was reassured that he would be kept busy and engaged through peer mentoring and other such nonsense. I left with the wind filling my homeschooling sails. Let me get to the point I wanted to make. In my limited experience as mom to just one gifted/2e child, even if a teacher was able to consistently “differentiate” for my son, I still don’t think that would be enough. He LOVES to learn…not be taught. He has helped me to realize the great divide that exists between those two things. At home, he has the liberty and resources (through my commitment to him) to chase any and every rabbit hole he desires. Point in case; he is currently harboring 3 mosquito larvae because he wants to “study their lifecycle”. He didn’t want me to read to him about it because he wants to “discover about it himself!” Your post stirred up a lot of reflection for me. Thank you for letting me spill it all out here! Being a mom of a gifted/2e kid can feel very isolating at times.
I LOVE the way you differentiated between learning and being taught. That is definitely the case with my daughter as well and, I suspect, many/most gifted/2e kids. These kids who have an insatiable desire to learn the things that fascinate them will not thrive in a traditional classroom setting where everything is doled out in bite-sized pieces according to a district/curriculum schedule. That type of learning might work well for many children, but not these kids. They want to go deep and on a completely different timetable than is possible in a traditional classroom.
And, yes, about being kept busy with peer mentoring and other nonsense. That’s not what these kids need. At all.
So glad you found a solution that works for your son!
Out of curiosity would you blog this same argument if a child was blind? I would guess not. This is not really about the unavoidable logic of mass education. It’s about the political process of agenda setting.
Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure I understand your point.
This post is about a specific group of children – gifted/2e – and the unique challenges they and their parents face regarding education choices. I would never presume to write anything about the education of blind children because I know nothing about their unique needs.
As far as making this political… I’m pretty sure I’ve interacted with parents of gifted/2e kids from every part of the political spectrum. Having a gifted/2e child and wanting the best for their education has nothing to do with political agendas.
You made some good points, but my problem with your post is this “You will spend a lot of time advocating for your child. You will probably not be happy with the results much of the time.” I agree with this statement, but many of us look at advocacy as an equity issue. Some kids may benefit from homeschooling, but what about the masses of other kids who have no one to speak up for them? If we ditch the sinking boat, we all lose. Because I know what really goes on, I feel a responsibility to more than just my child. If we know there is a problem, shouldn’t we be fixing it, not just for our individual kids but for all kids? Not trying to sound preachy but until we look at education as a community issue, we will keep perpetuating the same problems. Usually it is the ‘haves’ that can afford to homeschool or private school and the kids from disadvantaged households lose out in a system that no one is really properly funding or fixing.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You raise one of the issues that I mention in my list of reasons why people don’t want to homeschool – they believe in and are committed to public schools. I’ve met sooo many parents of gifted kids online who tried to work within the public school system to get what they needed for their child (sometimes for years) and eventually were forced to give up and homeschool. They never dreamed they would homeschool, but when they saw the damage being done to their child they felt they had no choice. Almost all of them say the same thing – they wish they had just homeschooled from the beginning because they are having to undo so much damage from the time their child spent in school. But their commitment to the public schools kept them there and engaged for too long.
I don’t know what the answer is for the gifted kids who are left there. It is tragic. Public schools in general are tragic on so many levels. If I had the answer to this, I’d be rich and loved by everyone in the country.
I disagree that it’s often the “haves” who homeschool. I know so many people who homeschool and live on very little. They give up practically everything to homeschool their children. My husband and I have sacrificed a lot professionally and financially to do what we need to do for our daughter. We could not afford private school even if we thought it would work. Homeschooling is our only option and thank God it is for our daughter’s sake. What we should be discussing in this country is how we can make it possible for more families to homeschool rather than how do we save a public school system that simply doesn’t work.
One last thing… I have a post about teachers leaving their profession to homeschool their kids. I know many, many teachers who now homeschool. What does that tell you when even teachers feel compelled to leave their chosen profession because they know school is not the best place for their kids?
Teachers Who become Homeschoolers are the Indicator Species
Thank you for writing this. We started out homeschooling and put the three older kids into school when our fourth child was born. That was supposed to be a one year experience in the school system, but it has now been five years and for the most part it has been a good experience. Last year, after differentiating for two years (since we moved here from another state), the elementary school principal called me about child #3 (then in third grade) and said that the school is not able to meet #3’s needs effectively. I love this principal for being willing to admit that and actively seek solutions.
Between the classroom teacher, the gifted specialist (2 hrs/wknd last year), and the principal, we figured out that there were three options: #1 – continue with chronological age peers, but supplement more heavily at home (go from one hour up to two hours/day of supplementing), #2 – skip at least one grade level (the principal would prefer two – this would mean having a nine year old in middle school, which seems like a patently bad idea), and #3 – homeschool. Our state allows for two enrichment classes (he kept PE and his gifted IEP – upped to 4 hours/week). He was SO excited to find out that homeschooling was even on the table. His immediate response when I got off the phone with the principal was, “I want to homeschool. I absolutely do not want to skip a grade. I like being a kid and don’t want to end up emotionally damaged because of it. (!) This would mean it would finally be MY turn to learn something in school! Please don’t skip me…” He continued on like that for a while and then started making plans for all of the things that we would do.
He is not 2e that I know of. This is my most challenging child. I believe all four are gifted (the youngest is only five and has not been tested yet, though). The child I am now homeschooling is INTENSE. I love him and I enjoy being around him, and I think I am probably learning more than he is through teaching him, but I am absolutely exhausted all of the time because his energy and intensity do not flag, ever.
Sorry for my long response. Here is my question: How long would you choose to homeschool this child? He has made it clear that he does not feel he can return to school before middle school (6th grade here), but would like to try at that point. My concern is that at the beginning of 4th grade, he is already doing geometry/algebra and beyond, reads at a high school+ level, is taking anatomy, logic, Spanish, etc. I will not slow him down or hold him back, but will we ever be able to stop, even for high school, or should we just plan to go all the way through homeschool with him?
Again, I feel guilty saying any of this or even feeling it, but the reality is that I have three other kids, and a husband, and a house, and well, myself, who I would like to be able to pay attention to at some point, as well. The reality here is also that it would be nice for him to spend time with other kids every day without my having to put effort into that, too. I hope all this is making sense!
How fantastic that the school was proactive in reaching out to you and trying to find a solution! From what you wrote, it sounds like your son is highly or exceptionally gifted with maybe an intellectual overexcitability. That combination is quite different from my daughter’s. I say that so you can filter what I’m saying through the fact that I’m not an expert on this topic.
I’m guessing that given where he is now it’s going to be difficult for him to fit into a typical middle school or high school. At the rate he’s going, he’ll be through all the high school material (and then some) before he finishes middle school. Some high schools have extensive AP offerings, but even that might not be enough for him. Dual enrollment in college is also an option depending on the state and school district you live in. I think a lot of it will depend on him. Will he be happy in that setting? If he wants the “school” experience, then maybe he would choose to be. But if he’s that far ahead of his peers academically it would seem to be awfully challenging to go from the freedom of learning at his own pace via homeschooling to entering a very structured environment that isn’t providing him the intellectual challenge is sounds like he craves.
Have you found Colleen and Caitlin online? They both have gifted sons who are a little bit older than your son. I think their websites might be extra helpful for you. I’m pretty sure one has a profoundly gifted son and I can’t remember if the other one has an exceptionally gifted son or profoundly gifted. But they are living what you are in terms of a gifted son. One was a gifted and talented coordinator and the other was a school psychologist. They both quit their jobs when they realized they needed to homeschool their gifted kids because school was not working and was never going to work.
I truly do sympathize with you re: how it feels like your son is taking all of your time and energy. These kids can be so intense and it is hard to keep up with them. There have been times when I wished school was an option for us, but I know it isn’t because I even called to ask. It wouldn’t be in my daughter’s best interest and so I trust we’ll figure out a way to move forward each year. But, yes, it is tiring and it changes your life. And, yes, there are many homeschooling parents who struggle with the same lack of balance in their lives due to their gifted child.
I hope that helps!
Thank you. Yes, that helps a lot and I will go check out the two that you mentioned. 🙂
Oh my! I’m going through this right now. Went to volunteer in my son’s kindergarten classroom volunteer and find out that she puts him on the iPad and computer for three hours in a day! She just pushed him aside!
I don’t know what to do!!!
This is exactly what we experienced. Great post Sallie! Your child is not a top priority, or even close to a top priority. We do not have the time, and even if we did, we don’t know what to do, with your child.
This is a wonderful post Sallie. Thank you for being so honest and laying it out so clearly. As the parent of two gifted (but not 2e) kids, I was constantly advocating and volunteering in our supposedly gifted public school. I remember beating my head against the wall with the 1st grade teachers for both kids. The first insisted that she had readers that were more advanced than my child. Maybe she did, but then woudn’t those students need more too? I was stonewalled by her. With the second child it was about math. The first time I talked to that teacher she told me that my son wasn’t extroverted enough and I needed to cut the cord. I was certain at the time, and still am that she was merely trying to throw me off. I persisted and the third time I talked to her she finally admitted she had no idea what to do. At least she was honest in the end.
Neither of my kids had behavior problems, they were just bored. Thankfully, the school administration actually recognized the abilities of my second child and assigned him to teachers who were capable of and interested in differentiation for him in math in the later years.
Also, the school had a band, which kept both of my kids happy and engaged in their later elementary years.
We switched to an academically rigorous private school in middle school and it’s been a fantastic fit. It wouldn’t be for every kid, as the academics are truly rigorous, but for my two it’s been a godsend. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive.
I woudn’t change what we did with our kids for elementary. We couldn’t have afforded private for that many years anyway, and my husband is opposed to homeschooling- mostly because he doesn’t think I’m organized enough. He might be right. The school was a GT magnet, so they had a large number of peers, and the band was amazing for them, but I wish I would have had the right expectations from the start. I fell for their rhetoric and the “depth and complexity” and was frustrated for a few years. Had I read your blog post years ago it would have been easier to accept the reality sooner, and maybe I could have come up with more constructive ways to help them, at least in the early grades.
this is EXACTLY what is going on at my child’s school. And I am told not to use the term “Gifted learner” .. so I get notes “your child is talking too much..”, “your child doesn’t do well in group setting”…. “your child is smart but doesn’t apply the work during school”.. “your . child doesn’t show math work, although your child can answer the problems quicker than most kids their age, your child needs to show the work..”
I respond” My child needs to be challenged. ” The school response “no, your child just doesn’t care about school. We can’t deal with your child; your child is the problem, not me. time for a school meeting”
me “OMG why won’t they listen to me ? I know my child and if you listened to me about my child and how to do things, that way my child can work better in the school setting, we wouldn’t have these pointless meetings”
me “where is the wine? I might need this tonight lol”
I know this is a dated post, but I wanted to comment it came at a good time. I have four children, with the two oldest currently school age and both 2e. Between the two of them we deal with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia and auditory processing issues. I have been utterly worn out and wondering if I should throw in the towel. But then I realize how much of their needs (both the highs and the lows) will be missed. This post renews my determination to continue on.
I’ll admit, I have yet to find a support group in my area of other gifted home schoolers. I KNOW they’re out there, even if not identified, but finding them has been difficult so it’s been a lonely road. I know a community of other families with 2e children would be a life line, but for some reason God hasn’t brought them along yet.
In the meantime, thank you for your candidness. I’ll march on with our eclectic curriculum and trust God has a beautiful end in sight. 🙂