Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Challenges of Homeschooling a Gifted Child

When I wrote about The Benefits of Homeschooling a Gifted Child I already had this post idea floating around.  Much like homeschooling in general it's not all sunshine and roses.  There are challenges, there are days when I want to give up, there are days that I wish I could do over.


Homeschooling a gifted child comes with some of it's own unique set of challenges.


  • It can be hard to find books that are "just right" for him.  He's an avid reader, he loves stories and books of all kinds; which I am so thankful for.  However he's at an age where most children's book and young chapter books don't challenge him at all.  He breezes right through them.  Yet books written for young adults do not have the right content for him; either the themes are too mature or the action/ adventure books are a bit darker and scarier.  It's not always easy finding reading material that both challenges him and interests him.  Most days he reads "easy" books and I'm just content that he's reading.  
  • It can be hard to figure out the "just right" level in most any subject! I find it hard to determine where he falls when teaching most any subject.  His skill set changes from day to day and we can go from too easy to so hard it frustrates and upsets him in the blink of an eye. He does not fall into any one grade for any subject and so we're left piecing things together.  Usually we work with one grade level above where he should be and I let him pick and choose the work he wants to cover as it pertains to his interests.  
  •  It can be hard for him to find peers or individuals that view him as an equal.  He enjoys playing with kids his own age and has a great time with them running, jumping and using his imagination but when talk turns to intellectual things he often is left frustrated that few children understand the depth and range of his knowledge (though he has found that Minecraft and video games are often safe territory!).  
  • He has such a wide range of emotions and behaviors.  One minute I feel like I'm dealing with a teenager wise beyond his years and the next he can be pouting like a toddler.  It can be exhausting and I've found that when he's miserable he's making sure we are all equally miserable.  Often he doesn't seem to know that he is doing that and so we focus a lot on making him aware of his emotions and those of the people around him.  
  • He has his own rhythm.  Because his brain is "on" so much of the time and he's absorbing things at an exhausting rate he does tend to need a lot more downtime between spurts of learning.  He'll often immerse himself into worlds; picking a topic and reading everything he can get his hands on.  Then he'll take whole weeks where I have to beg and plead with him to please read something, anything and try to help him find that next area that he wants to dive into.  I have learned that the downtime is so important to him to rest, relax, and absorb all that he had been immersed in.  It's a time for him to reset his brain and finish making connections.  It may look lazy to me but it's necessary for him.  It can be difficult for my other children to understand why he doesn't always have the same amount of required work.
  • It can be time consuming.  This past year Alec was introduced to the periodic table of elements and he wanted to learn so much more about it.  We had a hard time finding materials that kept his interest since most of them were geared toward high school kids.  I spent days pouring over internet sights like Pinterest and Amazon trying to find games, apps and other fun hands on ways to learn about the elements.  I find I spend the most time searching for ideas for him.  
  • It's exhausting trying to keep up with him.  He is always so eager and excited to share everything he has learned and when most people stop listening he turns to me.  He will talk up a storm and get upset when I don't always follow his train of thought or forget something he taught me a day, week or month ago.  I try so hard to read some of the same books, educate myself about the topics he is interested in and be there for him so he will have someone to talk to but I often fall short and it's tiring to try and keep up with him.  
  • He is super sensitive.  I used to think was just a personality trait of his but the more I research gifted children the more I find it's a common trait. He is super sensitive to noises, smells, and visual stimuli.  He often wears a hoodie or a hat to muffle sounds and find movie theaters, fireworks and large crowds to be loud even with the hoodie.  He often has his ears covered with his hands on top of it!  Smells that I might find unpleasant will make him gag and he swears he can smell it for much longer than anyone else.  I'm beginning to see that this heightened sense of awareness is part of what makes him gifted.  But it can be difficult to deal with this heightened sense of awareness when we're caught unprepared.  
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