• The Benefits of Homeschooling the Twice-Exceptional Child

    by SHS.com member Busygoddess

    cooltext488412976-jpgFor those who don't know, the term Twice-Exceptional is used to refer to children who are Gifted and also have ADHD or an LD. Both of my kids fall into this category. I don't use the term often. In fact, I generally don't mention that the kids are Gifted, or have ADHD, etc. unless I think it's relevent to the discussion (or at least my contribution to the discussion). I think this is because I don't see it as a big deal. It's just part of who they are.

    Maybe, if I was surprised by any of it, it might be a big deal. I'm Gifted & my hubby is Gifted. So, it wasn't exactly shocking to have Gifted kids. I have ADHD & hubby has ADHD. So, I knew the kids might have it & was watching for signs. Hubby has Dyslexia. So, it's not a surprise that both kids show signs of mild Dyslexia (many of the problems they have, I had/have too, but always figured they were due to my ADHD). I have family with Bipolar. So, it's understandable that Dea has it. In other words, none of it was totally unexpected.

    Anyway, the fact that the kids are Gifted, have ADHD, and might have mild Dyslexia is relevent to this post. These are the benefits, as I see them, of homeschooling them.

    1. An environment free of bullying, name-calling, ridicule, physical & mental abuse. They can be themselves without having to worry that someone will bully them for being different. They are encouraged to learn, instead of being attacked for being smart.

    2. Individuality is encouraged, not stamped out. They are encouraged to be themselves. They can dress how they want (as long as it's appropriate & within our budget). They are encouraged to follow their own interests, not pressured to like what others like.

    3. Their education is personalized. I'm not anti-public school. I also know that not all public schools are the same (neither are homeschools, for that matter). However, one thing that no public school can offer students is a truly personalized education. High schools can offer Honors classes and AP classes. Some districts offer enrichment or Gifted classes. Some districts have entire programs or schools dedicated to Gifted education. Some districts have programs or schools with a specific focus like the Arts or Science. Some districts allow grade advancement (skipping a grade). Even with all those options, they can't offer a truly personalized education.

    Do you know why skipping a grade isn't a great idea? First, you're putting them at a social disadvantage by placing them in a grade where they are the youngest (and likely smallest) student. Many of their new classmates will not react kindly to them being there. Second, Gifted students are rarely at the same grade level in all subjects. This means that while they may be ready for 6th grade Language Arts, they might still be struggling with 4th grade level Math. This type of asynchronous development is the main reason that public school is not the best place for Gifted children.

    On the other hand, homeschooling can easily meet the asynchronous educational needs of a child. If a homeschooling parent has knowledge and understanding of their child & is willing to put time and effort into researching and planning, they can easily meet the needs of a child whose abilities are all over the place. Homeschoolers don't have to stick to the public school schedule. They don't have to stick to public school mandates.

    When Dea was in public school Kindergarten, her teacher told me that she wasn't allowed to give Dea more advanced work, something that would actually challenge her. I don't have that restriction. I don't have someone telling me that I can't let them work above grade level, that we can only use certain materials, or that only certain books can be offered to them. One of the books Jay read last month was George's Secret Key to the Universe. That is NOT a 1st grade level book. I think it's pretty safe to assume that he'd be fairly bored with the books available in a public school 1st grade classroom, considering his reading selections generally consist of 3rd & 4th grade level books. 1st grade Math generally consists of introducing basic addition and subtraction. That's not exactly challenging for a child who can add & subtract numbers of 6-digits (or more), with or without decimals, with or without regrouping, and is already working on multiplication.

    Most middle schools don't offer high school level classes to their students (especially students in 6th grade). So, Dea wouldn't have been able to take high school Earth & Space Science last year. She also wouldn't be in so many high school level classes this year (7th grade). A public school wouldn't be able to focus on improving her writing the way we have. They wouldn't have allowed her to study Wars for History for two years. They wouldn't allow her to choose specific eras for in-depth study in high school History.

    The kids wouldn't have the opportunity to take foreign languages in grade school. They wouldn't be allowed to choose from a list of appropriate assignments. They wouldn't have a say in the materials they used. They wouldn't be allowed to work at their own pace.

    Since we homeschool, we can buy more than one level at a time, in case they finish early. Last year, Jay did 3 levels of ETC. I bought 1st-6th grade Math for Jay, so he can go through it at his own pace. We're buying LOF 2 levels at a time for Dea. They don't have to do the work at a specified pace. They can work through it at their own pace. When I plan work for the year, I estimate how long I think each topic, material, or program will take. That helps me plan an appropriate amount of work for our (estimated) 40 week school year. We will work until all that work is done, even if it takes longer than estimated. I also keep some additional topics in mind, in case we finish the planned work for a subject early or finish all planned work before the materials for the next year are here.

    The kids always have something to do. They aren't wasting time with busywork or ridiculous amounts of review & repetition. They study the things I feel are important and also get to focus on their own interests. They study more subjects each year than they would in public school. They determine how much time is spent on school each day. They go more in-depth than public schools. Their education isn't planned out by a faceless committee, who have never met my kids, and, therefore, don't know what would be an excellent education for my kids.

    Plus, I can accomodate their ADHD. We can work on improving their organizational & time managment skills (in meaningful, useful ways), while still making accomodations for their current skill level. I can do all of that without putting them in special ed classes or forcing them to do work below their academic abilities.

    4. A teacher that understands them. Whatever you want to call me - teacher, facilitator, guide, educator (I've used all of these terms at one time or another) - no one could have a deeper understanding of my kids than I do. No public or private school teacher would know my kids like I do. I know when Dea could do better, but is slacking on her work. I know when Jay is losing focus & needs a break or different type of work. I know when Dea is about to melt down and needs to go calm down. I know if Jay is really struggling with a book, if he just isn't focused enough to read right now, or if he finds the book too boring to focus on it. I know their moods, their tricks, their abilities, their interests, and their needs. I have first hand knowledge of what it's like to be a Gifted child with ADHD. What are the odds that every teacher they would have in a public school would be able to claim all of that?

    5. Encouragement. I encourage the kids to do their best. I encourage them to follow their interests. I encourage them to do better, to challenge themselves.

    6. A more well-rounded education. When I was in grade school, we had to take Spanish (the Gifted Program did, I'm pretty sure the regular program didn't). By 6th grade, Spanish was optional. Now, even in the Gifted Program, it isn't even offered before High School. I've heard from people with kids in the public schools that Science and History are not daily (sometimes not even weekly) subjects in grade school. Home Ec isn't even offered anymore.

    When you homeschool, you can start foreign languages in grade school. You can require more than one foreign language. You can make sure that important life skills - cooking, basic car mainenance, personal finance, and any others you feel are important - are covered. You can put a heavier focus on Science, History, Music, or Art. You can do in-depth Cultural Studies. You can include computer programming classes or engineering classes. You don't have to just focus on what the public schools offer. You can decide for yourself what the 'core subjects' are in your homeschool. There are some who consider Math, Reading, and Writing to be the 'core subjects'. Some also consider History and/or Science as 'core subjects'. There are a lot of 'core subjects' in our house - Math, Language Arts (which includes reading, writing, spelling/vocab), Science, Social Studies (which includes History, Geography, and Cultural Studies), foreign language, Art, Music, Life Skills, and Logic. These are required every year (or almost every year), in our school.
    When you homeschool, you can make sure that the subjects you believe are important are covered, even if the local school district doesn't focus on them. Your child's education doesn't have to be limited to what the local district offers. Your child's areas of interest can have a higher priority. You can make sure that all the important subjects/topics are covered. You aren't controlled by the limitations of the local school district.

    Obviously, these would be benefits for any child, not just those who are Gifted or Twice-Exceptional. However, as beneficial as these would be to all students, I really believe they are more beneficial for those who are not 'average' - those who have LDs, ADHD, are Gifted, or some combination. They are the ones least likely to flourish in a 'typical' school setting.

    This article was reprinted with permission from the blog Adventures of a Homeschooling Mom. Please visit Busygoddess there for more great homeschooling-related posts!!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. AddlepatedMonkeyMama's Avatar
      AddlepatedMonkeyMama -
      If this were Facebook, I would "like" this blog post about 100 times.

      My son was diagnosed with ADHD toward the end of his kindergarten year at public school. I now suspect that he may also be on the autism spectrum. He is also exceptionally bright and curious. Add these together with being in a class of 22 kids for six hours a day, and you have a recipe for disaster.

      I felt like my son's needs were not being met in the ways you describe in #3 and #4 on your list of benefits. His teacher tried, toward the end of the school year, to give him math worksheets (which he could do in his sleep) and books he could read himself. I don't think it was enough to keep him challenged and he still had to sit through the lessons for skills he had long since mastered. Sitting is hard for a kid with ADHD. Then he got scolded for fidgeting...then he got upset about being scolded...then he would refuse to participate in the class...then he was ignored so that the teacher could carry on with the lesson... then he got mad about being ignored...then he was sent to the principal's office in hysterics. You can imagine how I dreaded what I would hear when I picked him up every day. I dreaded answering the phone.

      Home is definitely the right place for him.
    1. dbmamaz's Avatar
      dbmamaz -
      LOL I have enough adhd that I cant make it through quite every word of that post!!

      My 2E kid struggled through 8 years of public school (starting in K) and ended up in specail ed classes. None of the regular ed teachers could handle him, and only about half of the specail ed classes could. He wasted years learning almost nothing (except memorizing large quanitities of facts to spit out on the state standards exams), and was still totally miserable.

      I would assume that most 2E kids are also considered 'accidental' homeschoolers as we are.
    1. mommalee93's Avatar
      mommalee93 -
      My oldest son has ADD and is on the Autism spectrum, he would never flourish like he does at home. I can only imagine how hard school and learning would be for him at a public school. At home he is accepted and loved, encouraged to be himself, and given the space and time needed to complete his thoughts.
    1. Busygoddess's Avatar
      Busygoddess -
      Unfortunately, our ps experiences are all too common. The schools simply are not set up for kids like ours. Some parents choose to afterschool. Some choose to sign their kids up for classes after school or during breaks. Some help their kids explore further in informal ways. Some of us pull them out to homeschool. Some leave them in the schools and waste time fighting with the district for a change that won't happen.
      I truly belive that all kids deserve to get an excellent education. I also believe that what constitutes an excellent education differs with each child. The public schools simply can't offer that, especially for 2E kids.

      I look back on my own education and wish that my parents had done more for me. They signed me up for classes over the summer, and they allowed me to follow my interests in informal ways (somewhat). It still wasn't enough, though. So, when I saw the hell my daughter was going through in that one year in ps, I knew I had to do more for her.
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