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.
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.
Our Homeschool Experience With a Gifted/2e Child
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 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?
Homeschooling a Gifted/2e Outlier
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?
Parenting a Gifted/2e Child and Feeling Lonely
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.