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    by Published on 06-08-2015 11:50 AM
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    My five-year old can catch tadpoles better than any adult I know. He’s better at spotting them, and once spotted, he’s mastered the swish and flick, just a little ahead of the tadpole, so it swims into his net. Once he’s caught it, he lifts it gently, careful not to squeeze too hard, and drops it gently into a collection tank. He shuts the lid and watches the animal swim and squirm. He looks for legs and a tail, tries to figure out how far it is to a full-fledged frog. Sometimes we can work together to identify the species - bullfrog tadpoles are easy, with their evil eye and spotted body. After we’ve watched him for a while, my son carefully opens his tank. At water level, he pours the animal back into the pond or stream. Then he goes hunting for another amphibian.

    This is how we find school in wilderness.

    In “Last Child in the Woods,” Richard Louv says that, “An environment-based education movement--at all levels of education--will help students realize that school isn't supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.” And so we keep school focused on science and nature as much as possible. Many prisons dictate that inmates get at least two hours of outdoor time a day; many kids get less than an hour outside. Our children deserve better than our prisoners.

    We try to focus our school on science and nature as much as possible. Obviously, this can be hard; reading curriculum at the early levels is mostly you-get-what-you-get, as is math - and we don’t have the luxury to go to full unschooling. But for everything else, we focus on science and nature. We make field guides part of our kids’ bookshelves; Birds of America is a particular favorite. We read from them the way some families read Dr. Seuss. Since everyone’s into dinosaurs right now, our shelves are stuffed with dinosaur books of all levels, from preschool to Ph.D. We make nature available indoors, since we can’t be outside all the time.

    But when we can be outside, most importantly, we let the kids mess around.

    There’s a lot of pushback against this messing around. People think it’s useless, or worse, a waste of valuable time. But child-directed learning works best. ...
    by Published on 06-01-2015 11:44 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Secular Homeschooling,
    3. Parenting,
    4. Day in the Life
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    The full discussion thread for this post can be found here.

    When you hear the word gifted, what immediately pops into your head? Do you think of the straight-A student? Or, a musical prodigy? A prolific artist? A pint-sized mathematician? Do you assume that everything comes easily to a gifted child? That he has a leg-up over his peers? Do you envision his mom as a tiger mom, hot-housing him from sun up ‘til sun down? Do you imagine his parents are the pushy, competitive type?

    My 7-year-old son, Leo, is twice-exceptional; he is profoundly gifted and learning disabled. As his mom, I’m forever frustrated by the gifted label. The label makes you think that gifted is neat and clean, as it conjures images of beautifully wrapped presents with neatly tied bows. That’s far from my reality, folks. I love my son more than words could ever express but this journey has been anything but a neatly wrapped package. Instead, I’d liken it to a wild, white-knuckled, roller coaster ride. It has been messy, and loud, and fraught with various concerns. Why? Two words: asynchronous development.

    A better definition of giftedness: giftedness as asynchrony


    The current gifted label carries with it many misconceptions and assumptions. The reality is, the social and emotional functioning of gifted children is largely ignored by the general public. I’d like to share my favorite definition of giftedness, and it is a stark contrast to that neatly wrapped present:

    Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally. (The Columbus Group, 1991).

    What is asynchronous development?


    While most children develop in a relatively uniform pattern, gifted children are asynchronous in their development, and the more gifted the child, the more asynchronous that child may be. Do you want to know which children are the most asynchronous of all? The twice-exceptional children, those children who are both gifted and learning disabled. Children like Leo.

    Many ages at once

    It is often said that gifted children are “many ages at once”, they are quite literally out-of-sync. So, what does that look like, exactly?

    Well, let’s take a look at my little guy:


    This photo kinda sums him up, folks!

    Chronologically, Leo is 7-years-old. And he looks like your typical 7-year-old, but we all know that looks can be deceiving. We had Leo assessed last year and results indicated that his cognitive skills are above the 99.9th percentile across the board. That means that, intellectually, Leo is functioning at a level more than twice his chronological age. Socially and emotionally, however, he functions like that of a 5- or 6-year-old. In one moment, Leo can be extremely poised and mature, and in the next moment he can dissolve into a mushy mess of a boy. Just think about that for a second, folks. Can you imagine the frustration he must feel? His mind - his cognitive functioning- is like that of a teenager and yet those thoughts are housed in a 7-year-old body, a body with 7-year-old emotions. ...

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