Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homeschooling and Giftedness

I've been planning to write about this topic even before our tv interview last Tuesday but didn't have time because of our busy schedule.  After our tv interview, I've decided that I should really write this post.  There's so much to discuss about homeschooling and giftedness that can't be answered in just a minute or two.  Anyway, I'm using the interview questions asked as my guide in writing this post.

Why did our family choose to homeschool?

We were inspired to homeschool by our leader in the Light of Jesus Community (LOJ), Bo Sanchez.  He and his wife had been homeschooling their kids and he has been sharing about the benefits of homeschooling to their kids and to their family as a whole.  My husband and I wanted our kids and our family to experience those same benefits.

Then, as we were slowly finding out more about homeschooling, our eldest son began to show signs of giftedness.  He was hitting his milestones as a baby and toddler far too fast or advanced for his age.  I wrote about his milestones here in one of my previous posts in this blog.  He also mastered the alphabet, numbers, and shapes before he turned two years old.  By two, he was already reading some words and spelling!  I brought this up with his pediatrician who in turn referred us to a developmental pediatrician.  That's when we got the confirmation that he was indeed a potentially gifted child.  When he was a little more than 2 years old, he was assessed to have the intelligence of a 5 year old kid. 

But one thing we learned about gifted children is that they can have multiple ages.  He may have the cognitive skills and receptive language skills of a 5 year old but his gross motor and fine motor skills are still that of a 2 year old which is his biological age.  His emotions are also that of his biological age and this is manifested in his behavior a lot of times.  Last month, we brought him back to his developmental pediatrician and he was assessed to have the intelligence of a 6-7 year old kid already, although he is only 3 years old and 8 months during the assessment.  His gross motor and fine motor skills however are still that of a 4 year old kid.  A bit advance for his biological age but not at par with his cognitive and receptive language skills.  This uneven development also called asynchronous development in his skills makes it difficult to simply enroll him in a regular school.  Acceleration is not the best solution either because of his different levels of skills.  Homeschooling then becomes the best option for our family now because in homeschooling, we get to tailor fit the materials we give him to his skills, needs and interests.  He is not limited by a specific curriculum be it for preschool, kinder, grade 1 or grade 2.  He is not also rushed to learn skills or things he is not ready to learn or do.  For example, he is not rushed to advance in writing or forced to answer worksheets that grade 1 or grade 2 kids answer.  We test his understanding of concepts through games instead because he is still playful and enjoys playing a lot.  And because he is a kinesthetic learner, he enjoys this teaching method.  At the same time, he is exposed to more challenging materials that his mind is ready to grasp.  Right now, he likes to read a lot and he reads fast like a grade schooler.  He likes to spell and play addition games.  Homeschooling enables him to move at his own pace.  In areas where he shows advance skills, he gets to move as fast as he can or wants.  In areas where he is challenged or not ready to deal with yet (physically and emotionally), he gets to take his time.

What are the advantages of homeschooling with regards to your relationship with your child/children?

Homeschooling not only  enables us to spend plenty of time with our children.  It also helps ensure that we spend quality time with them because we take time to plan our activities with them to help them learn and be exposed to the things they need to know and things they are interested in.  By homeschooling our children, we learn more about them -- their interests, skills, strengths, weaknesses or challenges, learning style, etc.  We also learn things together.  All these provide plenty of bonding opportunities for our family and help us build strong relationships with them. 

Moreover, we get to focus more on passing on our values and faith to our kids as we spend time together.  One of the things I experienced and learned firsthand as we homeschooled our eldest son is that it is so easy to teach academics to kids but it's not the case with teaching/passing on values.  It takes some time before kids learn certain manners and values, and develop discipline.  Homeschooling affords us that luxury of time to make the values formation of our children our priority in their growth and development because my husband and I believe that giftedness is not a guarantee that one will be successful in life.  Good values and strong character are more important ingredients to real and long term success.  That is one of our main reasons for homeschooling.  Through the strong relationship that we get to build by spending more time with them, we are able to share more our values and beliefs with them and thus become strong influences in our children's lives.  By choosing to homeschool our children during their formative years (birth to 7 years old), we're taking the main responsibility to form their consciences and character.  We choose to do this now because we want to prepare them for the future.  We want to lay down a strong foundation for them so that when they are already part of the mainstream, they would not be easily influenced or swayed by their classmates or teachers whose values may be very different from the values that our family have.

I have barely scratched the surface here of why homeschooling is the best option for our gifted son right now.  I have not even discussed the other characteristics unique to gifted children like their heightened perception or overexcitability or supersensitivity.  You may read more about gifted children in this very helpful article I discovered recently.  I'd definitely write more about this topic in the future as I discover and learn more about our sons.  Yes, I learned in a seminar I attended early this year that it's possible that when there is a gifted child in the family that the next siblings are also gifted.  This suspicion was strengthened by our developmental pediatrician's comment that our baby is very alert and attentive which are also signs of giftedness in infants.  So, that gives me more reasons to study about giftedness so I can be a better parent and teacher to my children.

If you are a parent who suspects that your child is gifted,  the following articles might be of help to you:
What is a Gifted Child?
Definitions of Gifted
Characteristics of young gifted children
Characteristics of gifted children
Is my child gifted?
Developmental Milestones - Three Months to Five Years

Until my next post!

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