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Gifted & 2e Homeschooling

The Loneliness of Homeschooling a Gifted Child

The Loneliness of Homeschooling a Gifted Child 2

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Sometimes things seem so obvious in retrospect. The loneliness of homeschooling a gifted child is one of those truths that somehow fully escaped me until recently. I realized it feels a bit like I’m going down a never-ending rabbit hole of moving further and further out of the norm in terms of our homeschooling. And the further you move away from the mainstream, the lonelier it becomes.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschool Forum’s blog hop entitled Educating Gifted Children: The Many Ways We Approach Their Learning. I always kind of dread these blog hops because I never know what to say. I struggle to have a firm grasp of what our educational reality is anyway, but to try to articulate it to others? Most of the time I don’t even know where to start. And it’s not just with mainstream parents in public schools, but with other homeschoolers and even with other homeschoolers with gifted children.

I guess I would call our homeschool approach: Carefully Making Educated Guesses Choices with Limited Information While Flying By the Seat of Our Pants and Asking God Regularly to Not Let Us Screw Up Our Daughter’s Life.

I drew it out like this and David made it look nice. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The Loneliness of Homeschooling a Gifted Child Diagram

The big red circle is everyone who is parenting. The green circle are the parents who decide to homeschool their children for whatever reason. The blue circle are those who are homeschooling a gifted child. Then comes the orange circle of those who are homeschooling a 2e gifted child (gifted with one or more learning challenges). Last is the black dot for those of us homeschooling a 2e gifted child who is an imaginative visual-spatial learner.

Each choice or reality moves us further and further out of the mainstream. Making the choice to homeschool moves you out of the mainstream. But we don’t fit in the mainstream of homeschoolers since we have a gifted child. But we don’t fit in to the mainstream of gifted homeschooled kids because we have a 2e child. And then we really don’t fit into the more traditional gifted paradigm because our child isn’t into math and science and reading like so many of them are.  So often when I see discussions online about the educational needs of gifted children, I don’t relate at all. Gifted homeschoolers is my big tribe and I’m very thankful for them, but I still feel on the fringe because our reality is so different.

Trying to find other homeschooling parents who relate to the realities and struggles of homeschooling a 2e child who is imaginative and creative and a visual-spatial learner?

Hello? Is anyone there?

I love learning from people who have gone before me and it’s nearly impossible to find people who have walked this road. I’m guessing because most of them felt like they didn’t know what to say either and so they said nothing.

If I wanted to find information about advanced robotics classes or gifted poetry writers or middle school students who want to take AP level physics classes? That’s out there. Summer camps for brilliant math students and science competitions for future biophysicists? Got them. Children who read Harry Potter at age seven and have finished all the high school classics by middle school? Lots of discussions about those. But none of those remotely touch on our reality.

To be sure, each parent represented in those examples faces his/her own set of struggles when it comes to homeschooling a gifted child. But information is available out there for them to find. There are resources, camps and online courses.

So why am I writing this post?

I’m writing it for the mom (or dad) who is scouring the internet at one in the morning, trying to figure out what to do to help their child who is a wonderful, intelligent little person but defies classification in any real way.

I’m writing it so she/he doesn’t feel alone when nobody really seems to “get” the reality they face. Their homeschooling friends with neuro-typical kids who successfully and happily use boxed curriculum don’t understand. Their friends with high-achieving children in a traditional school setting don’t get it. Their fellow gifted homeschoolers will relate to some of it, but they won’t fully relate to it either (and they have their own sets of issues they face as well).

I don’t have any big answers to share right now. We’re still in process here. Check back in another ten to fifteen years and I can give you pointers. I’ll be able to reflect on what we did well and what we totally screwed up. I’ll be able to tell you that by God’s grace it all worked out even though in the midst of it it felt like we had NO IDEA what we were doing.

But what I can tell you right now is that it’s an amazing experience to parent one of these unique little people. I know all children are special to their parents, but when you get one that’s wired so out of the norm? It’s a privilege to watch it all close up and in person.GHB Blog Hop


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  • Sallie! Your visual is so perfect. It *IS* so lonely here, and it’s hard to explain. And each 2E kiddo has his or her own unique 2E strengths and weaknesses, so even if you find another homeschooling parent of a 2E kid, it’s still not the same.

    But, it is so important for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional learners to know that, although it may feel lonely, they are not entirely alone. I’m thankful for other 2E parents, like yourself, who are putting stories out there, even if it is hard to explain.

    So thank you 🙂

    • Thanks, Cait! I do believe it is vitally important that we share our stories – even when we don’t fully know what to say or how to explain it. Just knowing that there are other parents out there who face similar challenges and opportunities (even if they are not identical) helps so much.

      The famous saying is “We read to know we are not alone.” Well, someone has to do the writing so the readers will know they aren’t alone. I think that’s where we both are in life. 🙂

  • I’m in that tiny little circle too! My daughter is 12…and I read, and read, and read, and read…so glad I stumbled upon THIS today 🙂 We are in Atlanta…let’s start a club! I spent the past 12 years trying to fit her into every “normal” situation I could find (Montessori School, Public School, Private School). Then I finally realized very recently, that when you are an “outlier” (far out of the bell curve) that “normal” is going to mean something very different for us. My new goal is as much happiness and joy as we can find. It’s a journey!


    • Fantastic post and great diagram. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

      I’ve also just come to terms with the fact that just when I think we can’t become anymore of the outliers – we seem to hit a new realm of it and our circle gets even smaller – pin head is what it feels like most days. :/ I wouldn’t change it but it is a ton of work that most people can’t begin to understand.

      • Christine,

        Yes, about just when you think you can’t become any more of an outlier… you do! Every year seems to bring new realizations and adjustments!

  • Keep writing! Even though our kidlets are very different (though I do have one visual-spatial non-reader here too). Your words have helped me so much, and I do not think I am the only one <3 .

  • Sallie,
    I’m walking the same road with you. You’re not alone. Flying by the seat of my pants has become a way of life for me. Once you get used to it, you can really enjoy the view. Hang in there.

    • Lisa,
      In some ways I really enjoy flying by the seat of my pants and I think Caroline strongly prefers it too. But it’s hard to not feel irresponsible at times though when it’s a way of life and learning. But deep in my heart I know we’re doing the right thing. She’s happy and thriving. It will all come together in the end. One day at a time! LOL!

  • This describes my son perfectly!! I can’t even say how good it feels to read these words and know there are others like us out there. Thank you for this! I want to know more about your unique child.
    Mine is just now (at age7) learning how to read. He learns math quickly but has no tolerance for redundancy, making it incredibly difficult to find out what he knows.
    He has been diagnosed with Dyspraxia, which by definition means that the sufferer struggles with spatial awareness. But he’s a visual/spatial learner. It feels like a contraction in terms, but until more is discovered about this guy, it’s our reality.
    Finding curriculum that works for him has been so incredibly difficult. I’ve practically given up and just keep games at the ready.
    Thank you for this!

    • Amanda,

      You are very welcome! I’m glad it was/is encouraging. I know every time I find someone who “gets” at least a part of our life, I am encouraged.

      The lack of tolerance for redundancy… I’m glad you mentioned that. I need to write a post about that!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and honesty! I think your post will encourage many parents whose learners fall into special categories. Thank you. 🙂

  • Wow, thank you for your post. I have been feeling lonely. I am not sure if my daughter is gifted (though so much of what I’m reading makes me believe that she is). We are in the process of getting testing. Anyway, I just linked to your post about Visual Spatial Learning, and that describes my daughter to a T. So I can’t say that I have anything to offer, other than thank you. I have been searching for months to figure out what is going on with my amazing girl, as we began this journey of homeschooling this year. I’ve been frustrated that so much of the “normal” methods don’t work, and it’s hard to get her to sit down for any length of time – she wants to be bouncing or drawing or playing with her toys while I teach her. So anyway, just wanted to say thanks, and I am pinning your post so that I can come back here and read more.

    • Esther,

      You are very welcome!

      I know how frustrating it is when the “normal” methods don’t work and when you have a child who doesn’t want to sit down and learn. That’s another post I should write – things I figured out along the way by trial and error!

  • Oh my goodness, I totally relate to your words, too! Thank you, Sallie!

    I spent the weekend with friends who are homeschooling parents of gifted children (they live far away, sadly). We talked and talked and I basked in the novelty of being with kindred spirits. Their children aren’t 2e but I didn’t have my children with me so that didn’t matter so much. It made me realise how lonely my homeschooling life is being part of such a tiny demographic. Thank you for reminding me that there are others like me out there, even if not around here! (My son is 10 and a 2e visual spatial learner with imaginational, intellectual, psychomotor and sensual OEs.)

  • Sallie,
    I meant to comment days ago on this great article you’ve written- an article that expresses exactly how I feel but could never articulate well enough. (Thankfully, you sent out the weekly update email today which reminded me!) I scroll through 618 active RSS feeds daily and get so excited when your posts show up. Most posts I’m interested in, I skim- yours, I read. I love your writing, your ideas, your perspective, your candor (like the Redbird post) and your site design. And I thought another day shouldn’t go by without letting you know- thank you for the time and effort you so generously give!

  • Hi Sallie,
    I never ever comment on blog posts but this one made me tear up! I’ve been homeschooling two 2e boys (and one neurotypical girl) for 9 years… and I am still unwrapping the package of how this impacts me personally. Most days my attention is focused outward (curriculum shopping, again?! Another new therapy? A different parenting book?). When I stop to ask myself how I feel, the answer is often the same as yours– “lonely”. You articulated the reasons so nicely. Thank you for helping me go a little deeper. I do believe that to teach our children, we must continue to stay wide open to learning about ourselves.


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

My Gift to You!

“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

“After Laura and Mary had washed and wiped the dishes, swept the floor, made their bed, and dusted, they settled down with their books. But the house was so cozy and pretty that Laura kept looking up at it.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek

“They were cosy and comfortable in their little house made of logs, with the snow drifted around it and the wind crying because it could not get in by the fire.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods


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