Friday, February 3, 2017

Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down


Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down



The really big science questions need problem solvers. They need kids who are curious and who question, and particularly question authority including your authority as a parent. Granted, these kids are not the easiest kids to parent (i.e. they often question your authority as a parent!) and at times homeschooling them can feel like a drag.  But these kids are often gifted/2e and being home educated because: 1) they are gifted and may have special needs, 2) are not followers or necessarily compliant with a teacher or a school.


I'll be frank and honest here.  For those of us who are the liberal, latte sipping type and/or who believe in science, evolution, and the big bang, the stakes never seemed higher.  The recent political upheavals with Brexit in the UK and then with the US presidential elections can make things seem rather grim.  The state of education and the direction things are going in terms of education is disconcerting.  One has only to read the headlines on Common Dreams or other news outlets to get a sense of the alarm and despair within the scientific community and for the state of education.  And it doesn't take many negatively slanted stories on homeschooling (ie. the Feb 2nd Mirror article on the mother who lets her children play video games all day) to make an A type personality parent question or doubt their abilities to home educate and provide an education for their gifted/2e child/ren.

  1. Children are full of questions
  2. Sadly, by fifth grade, many children curtail their questioning
  3. Schools tend to foster submission to authority and not support endless questioning

As the above images sum up so beautifully, children are full of questions!  Generally speaking, schools tend not to foster children who question ad nauseum.  And yet, if we want a generation of scientists and people to solve the really big science questions and those facing the world today, we need children to be curious and ask lots of questions!

From time to time, I foster this questioning and ignite my son's passions by taking my 2e 11-year-old to science lectures, events, and activities that are free to attend and open to the public.  I am not the only homeschooling parent to do so.  The Washington Post recently reported on Romanieo Golphin Sr. who took his 7-year-old to CERN and university lectures, but there are countless home educators who do so as well.

Last Saturday, I took my son to Oxford University's annual Stargazing event, which was free and open to the public.  I spoke to some scientists there.  One conversation was particularly striking and worth retelling.

Here is what a scientist confided to me:

1) "Homeschooling is becoming more and more the best means to obtain a proper education in science; in some instances it is the only means; and

2) No one has an excuse in not obtaining quality education in science today with the amount of MOOCs" (edX, Coursera, Future Learn, World Science U, Isaac Physics and MIT OpenCourseWare to name a few) -- which are freely available online.

These are encouraging words from a top scientist on homeschooling when the chips are down!  Take heart.  This was not the sole occasion that I heard these points made about obtaining a quality education in science with homeschooling today.  Far from it.  Similar words have been uttered elsewhere in the UK and in the US.

Every time you feel a bit deflated, reach out to a wider community (whatever that may be). Follow your gifted/2e child's passions.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Take heart.  Reassure any nagging doubts on home educating.  Press your control-alt-delete to rekindle the flames and restore your faith in educating your gifted/2e child/ren.


This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop: When homeschooling your gifted child becomes a drag: my best tips.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.




NOTE:
I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

European Union laws require me to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on my blog. In many cases, these laws also require me to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, I have added a notice on my blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Finding peers with a move or starting to homeschool a gifted/2e child


Finding peers with a move or starting to homeschool a gifted/2e child




It is vital for all children to find peers and make friends but it's often a thorny prospect for a gifted or 2e (gifted with special needs) child.  This prospect, however, can be further intensified with a move or with starting to homeschool.  I know too well.  Within the last year, we moved outside the US and then moved again within the UK, nearly two months ago.


How do you go about finding peers and making friends with a gifted/2e child when you move to a new area or start to homeschool?  First, go online and try to find out what homeschool groups are in your area.  Many are on Facebook today; though there are still some yahoo groups and homeschool groups with their own websites.  Word of mouth is another way to find out about homeschool groups but that can be rather difficult when you either move to a new area or initially start out homeschooling.  Ideally, try to meet a fellow homeschooling parent in your area who may be able to point you in the right direction as soon as possible.  Try to get the low down on what's around and going on with homeschoolers.

Find out what types of homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are in your area.  Think in terms of your specific gifted/2e child/ren and their cognitive, physical, social, and emotional needs as well as their chronological age.  Think in terms of academics and non-academics.  It's possible to find a friend at an informal swimming group rather than in a competitive math club.  Alternatively, it's possible to find a friend or peer at a competitive math club and not at swimming.  It depends on the gifted/2e child, the group or activity, and the other children in attendance.  And, yes, some homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are based on chronological age and not based on ability. This is something to bear in mind.  Sometimes age restrictions are avoidable or able to be bridged by talking to the organizer/s of the homeschool group, activity, and/or event.  Other times, age restrictions are inescapable regardless of a child's ability and/or performance elsewhere; some people and places are age sticklers and are not going to change their rules or policies.  So you'll have to decide whether it's worth it to wait on these age restrictive groups, activities, and/or events or seek alternative ones for your child's immediate needs based on their chronological age or ones with more flexibility.

Second, discern which homeschool groups, activities, and/or events are structured or lesson-based from the unstructured.  If you've got a round peg 2e child, then it's probably not worth beating your head to try to get them to fit into the square hole.  Some gifted/2e children thrive with structure and lessons for homeschooled groups and activities.  For others, it gives them the hives and they will rebel against them.  For these gifted/2e kids, you'll be banging your head with the more structured stuff and will need to find drop-in, informal homeschool groups and activities without too much structure.  Bear in mind, as children get older, their needs will change and making friends or finding peers will take greater priority in their lives.  A gifted/2e six-year-old's needs are different from a twelve-year-old's, of course.

Third or perhaps earlier (it's not etched in stone here!), take geography into account.  Geographical location within a certain area or based on interest/activity can make a difference with transportation, traffic, and getting your gifted/2e child to and from a place.  Most major metropolitan areas support homeschooling groups today.  Depending on where you live, your transportation, budget, and traffic, you may have a wide range of options for homeschool groups within a 10-mile or 60-mile radius.  On the other hand, geography and/or transportation may impose limitations.

Fourth, budget.  Yes, if I had a magic wand and oodles of money, then I could forget about this reality and this word!  Don't despair.  Homeschooling can be done on a shoestring budget.  It is possible. Check out what's free, low-cost, pricey, or cost prohibitive.  Also, some pricey or cost prohibitive activities or events may have concessions or fees reduced for those on restricted incomes.  Public libraries, adult education centers, and other public or non-profit institutions often have activities that are free or for low-cost which may work for an informal homeschool group meetup or a regular structured group.

Fifth, don't see anything that appeals to you or your gifted/2e, consider creating a group or organizing one.  Some people are good at organizing.  If you are one, don't be shy about putting your ideas forward and trying to start something.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the positive responses and reactions from more introverted people who recognize the need but may be reluctant to organize such a homeschool group.

Sixth, let's be honest here.  Moving or starting to homeschool can be tough and stressful.  Some kids have an easier time with change and socially with making friends, period.  Some kids are more flexible and/or resilient than others.  Some 2e kids have special needs issues that hinder language and/or social skills.  Some gifted kids, or a 2e child, may be highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted and really struggle to find true intellectual peers.  In that case, you may want to keep the focus on making friends.

Don't throw the towel here!  Your child doesn't not necessarily need a gaggle of friends when one or two close friends may suffice.  Remember oftentimes it's quality over quantity here.  Bear in mind, too, finding peers and making friends are unlikely to happen overnight.  It's more likely to take a lot of time, patience, and effort.  Your gifted/2e child may also have an easier time making friends than finding a true intellectual peer, which may take considerable sleuthing (or maybe not truly happen until they're an adult).

Depending on your child, their level of giftedness, and where you live, your gifted/2e child may have an easier time if you're able to widen your options.  Some have an easier time by drawing on a huge geographical area or a critical mass of homeschoolers.  Some families are fortunate to live in areas with lots of gifted/2e kids.  Other families may be fortunate to move to those areas where there are lots of gifted/2e kids.  On the other hand, finding peers and making friends in towns or cities without any gifted services in public or private schools may be easier -- since many might turn to homeschool as an alternative educational option.  Then again, as I've mentioned, there are some gifted/2e kids where it might take until adulthood before they find a true intellectual peer.

Seventh, I've based this blog post on finding peers and making friends with a move or with starting to homeschool in a new area in the physical world, as in face-to-face encounters.  Today, Skype, Facetime, social media, and other methods enable gifted/2e kids to find peers and make friends virtually without physically meeting them face-to-face. Gifted Homeschooling Forum (GHF) is a virtual place where a gifted/2e child may find a peer or make a friend.  I've been extremely fortunate that my son has found a peer via GHF; others may have as well.  So it is possible for gifted/2e kids to find peers and make friends in the virtual world in certain settings without the usual geographical constraints of the physical world and not something to discount.

Eighth, keep plugging away until your gifted/2e child finds some peers and makes friends, in the physical and/or virtual worlds.  They may have friends at different groups and/or activities but lack true intellectual peers until adulthood as I've mentioned.  If this is the case, don't give up.   Keep looking and trying different groups, activities, and/or events until you do....

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop - Gifted Children: The Importance of Finding Intellectual Peers and Community.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.





NOTE:
I am an unpaid blogger (ie. just a homeschooling parent) who uses Blogger but doesn't add, embed, or employ any additional cookies, third party features or anything else!

European Union laws require me to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on my blog. In many cases, these laws also require me to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, I have added a notice on my blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Gifted 2E Kids: The Most Underrepresented

Gifted 2E Kids: The Most Underrepresented




Of the three million students identified as gifted in the United States, a recent NPR article claims, that non-native English speakers or ELL (English language learners) students are by far the most underrepresented.  While it is true that non-native English speakers or ELL students are often underrepresented in gifted programs, the article does not address the issues and difficulties posed for gifted 2e kids.  In fact, there is no mention of them.  For many Gifted 2e parents, the article reinforces the dilemmas with  their local district for their 2e kids and why so many seek out homeschooling as an alternative educational option.

Let's start with what the federal law says.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires all U.S. public schools to provide for the special needs for all children, ages three through 21 with disabilities.  Additionally, the American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides safeguards to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination of any kind.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides services to children who may not qualify as disabled under IDEA 2004 but who need additional supports of services.  These federal laws apply to all children regardless of nationality, language spoken, or length of residency; and such children are eligible for these services through the public school system.

In theory this may sound good, but what happens in reality for many gifted 2e parents is much more thorny.  First, a child needs to be identified as having special needs.  This in itself is far from being simple.  My son, who is now 10 years old, was born in New York City with special needs, mainly physical ones.  He qualified for therapy through Early Intervention (a federally mandated program) as a baby.  Once he turned three, however, the medical model of qualifying for services with Early Intervention no longer applied.  An educational model applied instead: my son's potential academic achievement were considered.  Except at age three, it's very hard to assess and predict the future educational trajectory of a child, especially one with special needs and developmental delays.  Even the best psychologists in the country will not administer an IQ (intelligence quotient) test at age three; it's too young for any accuracy.

Cognitive and/or academic aptitude tests, regardless of age, may be given to determine whether a child qualifies for special education or services through a public school system.  Oftentimes, though, such tests are based on a particular age and with low ceilings.  Furthermore, public school officials who administer such tests may not be skilled in assessing a 2e child.  They may have little experience with a child who may be ahead in one aspect but have a deficit in another or one who is not receptive to testing.  In the end, parents may seek out private testing.  But this is often costly.  It's cost prohibitive to those without the financial means or not an option for those without access to private testing in their area.  This only serves to further undermine the hurdles for a 2e parent and child.



What complicates matters further is that special needs can vary widely and be slippery to define and to identify.  A gifted 2e child usually refers to a child who has above average intelligence and one or more disabilities.  But there are exceptions with this definition: some savants such as Kim Peek, for one, who have islands of genius or exceptional abilities despite some severe disabilities.  Disabilities (or weaknesses) for 2e children can run the gamut from autism and deafness to dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Under IDEA 2004, a special needs student is defined as having: "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations."  Again, it sounds great in theory, but in practice the diagnosing of a disability or a recognition of special needs can be complicated and messy.  Many children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphic, and/or dyspraxia are never diagnosed or identified. Or where the line is drawn on who is defined as dyslexic and qualifies for services is often fraught with murkiness.

Moreover inconsistencies and unevenness in performance and abilities are hallmarks of 2e children. They may have delays.  They may be early bloomers with some developments and/or late bloomers with other developments.  Or they may be a mixture of both.  They may be highly verbal or have deficits with language skills.  They may perform or test well one day, but not the next.  They may swing from avoiding situations or experiences to seeking them out.  They may seem out-of-sync with others and have trouble coping with their mixed abilities.

Those who go to school may find their special needs or giftedness fly under the radar or go unnoticed.  A teacher may be aware a child has special needs but a parent might be unaware.  Or the situation may be reversed with a parent suspecting special needs and a teacher not seeing them or being unaware.  A gifted 2e child may fluctuate between highs and lows in a particular day and/or subject.  Some days a 2e child may seem exceptional while other days the special needs may seem particularly glaring.  At times, nothing may seem to fit or work out.  Nothing about them may seem linear or sequential like it may appear in comparison with more neurotypical children.


Worse, behavioral issues can often coexist with exceptional abilities.  A gifted 2e child may find things easy in one area, but struggle or find things impossible in another area.  They may get frustrated, anxious, and depressed from a lack of challenge.  In a school setting, a gifted 2e child may spend a large part of their day just trying to hold themselves together and exert an enormous amount of effort doing so.  They may suddenly explode with little to no warning.  Unwarranted attention for such disruptive behavior and relentless meetings (or phone calls) with school personnel may ensue. Unwittingly, the student's negative behavior may cause a teacher to put blinders on and, counter productively, such negative behavior may outstrip any exceptional abilities the child may have.

To muddy the waters further, gifted education is NOT federally mandated and, as a result, not every state mandates gifted education.  Of the states with gifted programs, approximately six to ten percent of the total student population is considered academically gifted.  But this figure does not include the number of students who are not tested as gifted or failed to be identified as gifted.  It also does not include such states as Massachusetts where a gifted state mandate does not exist or the number of 2e homeschoolers either since the figures are based on data obtained from public school systems.  Of the states with gifted programs, some estimate the 2e population to be around 350,000 or .5%, but this seems woefully low.

In reality, many 2e children are never identified and muddle through school, never reach their potential, or fall through the cracks -- though despite these obstacles, some persevere through dint of hard work.  Take Henry Winkler (an American actor, director, comedian, producer and author). Winkler was born in Manhattan and attended public schools in New York City, but never identified as dyslexic or as a 2e child by either his parents or his teachers.  Though he was bright, he thought he was 'stupid.'  He didn't read a book until he was 31 years old.  Today, however, he's now written 26 books with his Hank Zipzer series and become a spokesman for dyslexia.



Only a handful of schools in the United States offer a curriculum specifically tailored to 2e children. In New York City, which is the biggest city in the US and has the largest public school system in the country, there are very limited options for parents.  Many, such as Winkler, are never identified as having special needs or exceptional abilities.  Other times, children are identified as having special needs or be gifted but not both.  Some gifted schools in New York City may be able to accommodate children on the autism spectrum but not all.  In other cities and states, some public schools offer part-time programs for twice exceptional students, but usually there is more demand than there are slots available.

Increasingly, for these reasons and others, many gifted 2e parents opt to homeschooling rather than grappling with a public school system.  With homeschooling, they can play to a gifted 2e child's strengths.  They can address the social and emotional needs of a gifted 2e child.  They can find support and/or provide scaffolding and guidance. And they can provide one-to-one type tutoring opportunities and technology more effectively and efficiently than any other educational setting.

So what makes a 2e child exceptional?  I think it's those kids like Kim Peek, Henry Winkler, and everyone in between.  And they're by far the most underrepresented.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop  Gifted 2e Kids: What Makes Them Exceptional.  For more on GHF's blog hop see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.
 

http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Last Journey of a Genius and How Do You Say Gifted?

The Last Journey of a Genius and How Do You Say Gifted?



In 1989 PBS' NOVA aired The Last Journey of a Genius, a television documentary on the final days of the great physicist Richard Feynman.  Today, anyone can google and watch it. 


In the documentary, Richard Feynman talks about becoming a member of the Arista, an honor society, at Far Rockaway High School in New York City.  At the time (early 1930s), everyone wanted to be a member of the Arista, according to Feynman.  However, once Feynman became selected he soon discovered that the group was more concerned about deciding who was to be allowed in the Arista.  He hated intellectual pretense and wanted no part of it.


Feynman wanted to be ordinary: a school psychologist had tested his IQ at 123/5 in the 1930s or within the range of normal.  Feynman once told a friend that he would not be able to join Mensa, an organization who members have IQs in the 150 or higher, since he lacked a high enough qualifying score.


Apart from his IQ score, Richard Feynman was anything but ordinary.  While Feynman's name is often touted about within the physics world, Einstein's iconic status extends far beyond the physics world and the one most commonly named in terms of giftedness.  And yet, most (who are knowledgeable about Feynman and Einstein or other geniuses) would put Feynman in the category of giftedness and even the rarified category of' true' genius.


The similarities between Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein are staggering and worth noting:
both became famous, award-winning physicists.  Both were awarded Nobel Prizes.  Both looked for the simplest solution to a problem.


Both Feynman and Einstein beat to a different drum.  Both were late talkers and not always hard working, high achieving students.  Both had an insatiable curiosity and were highly creative.  Both were divergent rather than convergent thinkers.  Both cherished the process of exploring and investigating questions rather than the end result.  Both were physically and socially awkward.  Both had married and then divorced; though Feynman's first wife died of tuberculosis and he stayed married to his third wife for more than twenty-five years.


Ironically, today the term 'little Einstein' has been co-opted.  Too often, it is usually refers to a bright, eager child with a high IQ who perhaps learns how to read at or before age 2 and then performs other amazing physical and cognitive feats at an early.  Quite the opposite of Einstein's own upbringing in many ways, yet the pundits and talking heads persist in co-opting his name.  The title of the headline Little Einstein! Girl, 3, Mensa's Youngest Member says it all.  



Today such 'little Einsteins' are never considered 'little Feynmans.'  Often, there's no discussion how giftedness may be more than a high IQ or a qualifying score with Mensa or pertain to a set of characteristics and neurological condition.  There's also usually nothing about how Einstein or other gifted people do not share the same precocious or physical, mental, social and emotional developments and, in fact, many gifted people have special needs and developmental delays.  And there's often no discussion or consideration how much a disservice this association does for the betterment of society or the child either.


Intelligence scores speak for one piece of the puzzle, but they do not speak for all.  Otherwise, Feynman and many others would have a higher IQ score than they did or do.


Perhaps we should re-assess how we say giftedness.  Perhaps we should accept that there are Feynmans in the world and that there are more definitions and ways to be gifted than being identified through IQ testing.



This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop How Do You Say Giftedness.  For more of GHF's blog hops, see http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.


http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hawaiian Punch, Junk Food, and a (Holiday) Food Plan

Hawaiian Punch, Junk Food, and a (Holiday) Food Plan



The holidays:  a time when Michael Pollan's simple advice "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants " seems to go out the window.  Beets, cabbage, and other root vegetables are staple foods for countless peasants around the world.  Yet on a global scale, a treat or something sweet is usually presented during the holidays.  Special cookies, cakes, candy, and other dishes are often made.


Until fairly recently, these special treats were not available year round.  Until fairly recently, sugar was not ubiquitous.  And until fairly recently, processed foods, artificial food dyes and colorings, artificial and refined sweeteners were not so widespread either.  Today, it's the wild west with foods.

For many parents of 2e children with allergies, food sensitivities, or on restrictive diets, the holidays are somewhat of a nightmare.  For many, however, the food issues are year-round.  During the holidays, they just become magnified about 100 times, it seems.   The sights and smells can be hard to resist.  Food quickly becomes associated with fun but isn't when your child can't eat certain food or when you've become a member of the food police or healthy food advocate.

Every holiday event seems to have tons of junk food, sweets, and other unhealthy items (cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc.).  What can a 2e parent do?  

1.  Acknowledgement.  'Food' features strongly in holiday celebrations.  Though we may disagree on what you or I may constitute as 'food', it's pretty much a given that many people feel compelled to bring a 'food' item to a holiday event or gathering.

2.  Document.  One British family did an experiment.  They created a food diary and logged their kids' daily sugar intake for a week.  The parents were horrified.  It turns out the kids were eating 70 teaspoons of sugar a day!  Worse, much of the sugar intake was consumed at public (state) school.  And such sugar was not presented as one-off treats either.

3.  Don't forget about drinks.  Visit Whole Foods or many other supermarkets during the holidays.  Eggnog and other holiday drinks are often freely available.  Many schools, libraries, and other organizations serve Hawaiian Punch or other 'kid-friendly' drinks during the holidays too.  Yet these drinks are usually contain artificial food dyes or colorings as well as sugar.  Robert Lustig, NPR, and other organizations have written about the hidden sugars and substances in juices.

4.  Plan ahead.

Option A.  Don't attend or try to avoid holiday celebrations.  Elimination works, but isn't always doable or realistic.

Option B.  Eat before any holiday celebration.  That way the temptation to eat is gone or reduced.  This is sometimes works.  For many kids, they see others eating colorful creations and they are desperate to join them regardless.

Option C.  Bring an alternative holiday celebration.  Your child wants to attend a holiday celebration that will have brownies, for instance, but your child can't or isn't supposed to eat brownies.  Your child, however, can (discretely) bring homemade brownies.  You found a recipe for chocolate avocado cookies which look like the real McCoy and your child can and, more importantly, does eat them.


Option D.  Let things go and let your child eat whatever at a holiday celebration.  This is like the hope and pray that no harm will come.  Again, this may work or might not work - at all.  IF your child has a severe allergy, then the harsh reality is that can't always control what others bring and your ability to protect your child from any harm comes first, period.

Option E.  Something I haven't covered?  Maybe an exit strategy when things go south at a holiday event?

5.  Allow your child to have a role and devise a solution.  Let's say you've got a child on the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet.  You can could be a food enforcer.  Or you could ask the child to help play a larger role in their food decisions and choices.  Let your son look at Pinterest for recipes.  Let them pick out recipe.  Let them find something to eat that they will like and eat.  Let them be part of the solution, if possible.

6.  Talk about the social and emotion feelings.  Everyone likes to feel included, but 'food' can be a thorny issue today and for many of us.  Some kids have a physical reaction to food and that's no fun.  Some kids have a behavioral/neurological reaction to food and that's no fun either.  Many people don't genuinely understand why a child can't just have a little bit of candy or a little bit of Hawaiian Punch to feel part of a group.  Not many parents want to be a pariah over food either.

Not surprisingly, parents and kids often feel the peer pressure with food.  It doesn't make you feel good when others can supposedly guzzle Sunny Delight, for instance, or pop gingerbread cookies into their mouths without any ramifications, it seems.  Yes, it's not fair.  Yes, it seems out of your control.  Yes, it seems like you have faulty or defective genes when others do not.  And yes, it's not an easy path.

I 'get' it.  My husband has Crohn's and yes, recent research has pointed the figure at the Neanderthal gene for causing it.  Moreover three years ago, our 2e son was put on a restrictive diet by a neurofeedback provider - a sort of GAPS/Wahls/Paleo/Feinstein (no grains, dairy, corn, soy, processed food, refined sugars and limits on fruit, yada yada).   Initially, it was a nightmare and daily juggling act.  Yes, food can be a daily grind.  It's not like trying to skip rope which you can avoid on a daily level.

With peer pressure and food, brainstorm the alternatives and options available.  Sometimes you can easily substitute.  Other times creativity is necessary.

7.  Positive reinforcement for healthy food choices and decisions.  Praise the child for taking the time and effort to select a recipe.  Praise the child for taking an active role and making a decision.  

8.  Become a healthy food role model.  Practice what you preach.  Read the labels and find out what the ingredients are.  When a neurofeedback provider put my son on the restrictive diet, I went through my refrigerator and cupboards and either donated food to charity or chucked it out (note: we didn't have a compost bin then!).  I set aside most of my cookbooks.  I googled and googled and googled for recipes.  Now I find recipes on Pinterest instead.  I found healthy substitutions.  In many cases, however, I had to flip our meals and ways of thinking and eating.  But my husband and I both made the conscious decision to become food role models for our 2e son.

9.  Become a healthy food advocate.  When the public library served Hawaiian punch (and junk food) at a children's library event, my 2e son spoke to the children's librarian and suggested that perhaps they could offer something healthier.  Raisins are often served now; previously they had served oreo cookies.

10.  Enjoy the holidays - or at least try to enjoy the holidays.

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop Parenting OEs, 2Es, and Everything in Between http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blog-hops/parenting-oes-2es/.  For more of GHF's blog hops, see http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/


http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ten Ways on How to Avoid the Buy, Buy, Buy...

Ten Ways on How to Avoid the Buy, Buy, Buy...

Today is Black Friday (Nov. 28, 2014 - the day after Thanksgiving in the US).  It's also notorious for the herd mentality buy, buy, buy day where people are trampled on for latest televisions, computers, and toys.  To me, it's depressing.  

This morning, a BBC article, 'Black Friday': Police Called to Supermarket Crowds, was a bleak read for me.  This day and concept has now spread to the UK (where my husband is from, where I have lived, and my in-laws still live).

So how best to avoid this unfettered materialism run amok??  How to avoid that herd mentality?  How to avoid the emotional tugs of needing the latest and greatest?  

Since the spring/summer, I have been doing much research and reading about zero waste and refining my purge and resistance techniques.  I think I've come up with some ideas.  

1.  Avoid as much media advertisement as possible.  This is easier said than done.  Even in dentist or doctor waiting rooms, there's usually magazines, such as People or Family Fun, with pages chockfull of holiday ads. 

2.  If possible, limit or ban television.  We've been television-free for a little over a year now.  We don't regret it for a second.  My son watches videos online and can successfully avoid being a captive advertiser's victim.  

3.  AVOID shopping malls and big-box retail shops as much as humanly possible (preferably at all times, not just the holidays).  If you actually need to buy some socks for your child/ren, then try to shop when you're pressed for time in one retail store, such as Target, and not subject yourself to impulse buying.  Browse in a library NOT with retail therapy.

4.  Consider shopping at charity, thrift or consignment stores instead of hitting the mall.  If you shop at a charity or thrift store, it's often a double win situation where you and the charity benefits.  You help others and the environment when you shop at charity and thrift stores, as well as your wallet.

5.  Donate to charity.  Clean out the cupboards.  Remove the 'junk' from your home.  Simplify your home and lifestyle.  You'll feel refreshed and invigorated when you do.

6.  Read, listen, or watch about the Zero Waste movement.  Embrace the motto:  refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.  



7.  Read, listen, or watch The Story of Stuff or about Garbage-ology.  Let's face it.  We all have mounds of stuff in our home.

8.  Visit a museum or attend a cultural event instead of giving a gift.  The Nutcracker Ballet is a popular cultural event during the holidays around my neck of the woods.

9.  Make a gift or create something homemade.  DIY lip balms, lotions, teas, cough drops or anything else.  My grandmother and great-grandmother would knit entire designer Barbie doll collection clothes and accessories for the holidays as well as mittens, hats, scarves, and sweaters.  

10.  Pinterest!!!  Best site for crafts, DIY, hobbies, and anything else.  No one said you had to come up with a flurry of brilliant recipes or ideas for fairy houses.  With Pinterest, however, there are plenty of people who do and then post for others.  So if you are tapped out of ideas or hard pressed for what to do with old sweaters, turn to Pinterest.  You can search under a subject/s (ie. DIY) or for a specific item like no-bake pumpkin cups.   You can also follow someone's board.  You'd be amazed how many cleaver people and cleaver ideas are posted there.  And your wallet will be amazed too. 



This post was written as part of Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop series. Follow Hoagies Gifted on Facebook and join the conversation on how to keep holiday focus on what matters to us. Hop to the next blog in this blog hop clicking on the button below



Monday, November 17, 2014

Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Quantum 2E Revolutions

Kaleidoscope Eyes and the Quantum 2E Revolutions



During the last nine, ten years, it has been dizzying and exhilarating, both for the Gifted Homeschool Forum (GHF) and for me personally with my 2e son.  Since my son was born nine years ago and GHF was founded ten years ago, there have been many quantum leaps.  The sheer volume and variety of educational, technological, and social networking opportunities have been nothing short of astounding.   The changes for 2e children in particular have been nothing short of breathtaking.

Nine, ten years ago, Yahoo support groups were available when GHF was founded and a year later when my son was born.  Fortunately, I found a couple of Yahoo support groups to help me with my son's special needs shortly after he was born.  I needed help and support and I needed it immediately too.  Time has not on my side.  I knew that there had to be at least one other person in the country who had to find specialists, therapists, and treatments.  So I googled.  I then began a search and a very long journey.  And what a journey that it has been.

I cannot begin to tell you how much those Yahoo support groups meant for me personally or ultimately meant for my son.  To find and hear from another mother with a baby in my shoes at the time was priceless.  Since then, I've continued to be a member of one of the Yahoo support groups and offer my support and guidance to others.  I know the emotional pain and journey that many mothers face.  Without that Yahoo support group I would never have found out that there were indeed other mothers like me with a wide range of conflicted emotions and who were struggling to cope and make heads and tails of the situation.  I would never have found the courage to seek or have gotten the help that my son needed.  I would never have found that ONE doctor in the country who doesn't dismiss what mothers like me know and have to say.  I would never have found half the confidence or knowledge in making some of the tough decisions which we made.  A revolution had certainly begun, I thought.

With a Yahoo support group, I had educated myself on my son's special needs from other mothers and became a kind of expert and authority over time by default.  Before my son was born, I had never heard of my son's special needs.  I had no preparation for it.  I had no medical training and I hadn't even taken a science course since high school some 30+ years ago.  Yet here I was:  a new (but older) mother in New York City fielding advice from other mothers across the country (and world) via the internet on how best to treat and manage my son's special needs and find the proverbial needle in the haystack in terms of professionals, therapies, and treatments.  It was simply incredible.

As I had become pregnant with my son in February 2005 (and GHF was was a few months old), YouTube was being founded and another revolution would soon ensue in four to five years when millions of videos and content became downloaded overnight.  Of course, little did I know or even hazard to guess when YouTube came out in February 2005 that I'd have a movie clip of my four-year-old son trying to strum a guitar while watching a YouTube video clip of Luciano Pavarotti and Eric Clapton singing a duet of the song, Holy Mother; the video clip was a recording of the duo which they had performed at a benefit concert in 1996.

With that YouTube video clip (and soon countless others to follow), I witnessed a more accessible, personalized type of learning for my son at home with the internet.  Since my son was born with special needs and was in speech therapy at the time in January 2010, the video clip of Pavarotti and Clapton reached my son in ways that speech therapy could never do.  Music bridged the gap and seemed to work miracles.  My son watched Pavarotti and Clapton intently.  He studied the music, the lyrics, their faces, their body language, their overall demeanor (not to dismiss Clapton's guitar playing!), and everything else it seemed.


At that point in January 2010, my son was four and in a special needs pre-kindergarten program in New York City.  He was not identified as gifted, though he was considered 'bright.'  I had had to enroll him in a special needs pre-kindergarten program after nearly going to court with the New York City Board of Education over his physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Privately, he was receiving vision therapy and feeding therapy (and that's a whole other discussion for another time).

Within a year of my son watching that Pavarotti and Clapton YouTube video clip, though, I had an epiphany.  By then, my son was five years old; we had moved (back) to Massachusetts; we had withdrawn my son from a special needs pre-kindergarten program in a public school and placed him in a private gifted school.  We felt and had 'evidence' of our son being gifted.  We had decided that he needed much more than a special needs pre-kindergarten program could or would ever be able to provide.  At the private gifted school, however, where we had found a slot for my son, the curriculum seemed stuck and suddenly seemed dated to me within a sort time.  The math curriculum consisted of workbooks and rote math facts and drills.  It wasn't too different from the math curriculum that I had experienced as a child over 35+ years ago.

At home my son had been intently watching video clips from PBS's Cyberchase and picking up far more advanced mathematical terms and concepts than what was being covered in the private gifted school.  I knew then that life had fundamentally changed and my son would be part of a groundbreaking generation.  Although Sesame Street was televised soon after I was born and millions had viewed man's first step on the moon, the ability to travel virtually and metaphysically across time and space with digital technology seemed to come at warp speed and was unlike any previous generation had ever experienced as little ones.  Even more staggering, my son's generation's is able to digitally connect with others and not be solely passive recipients to technology.


Today, my 2e son is being un/homeschooled and the educational opportunities seem endless.  Ten years ago, there was no iPod, no iPhone, no iPad, no Facebook, no Minecraft, no Khan, no Ted-Ed or TEDx, no edX, and no World Science U, of course: no nothing it seems now in hindsight! Though my son is an avid, voracious reader, his learning is not restricted to the printed word or a textbook or a set curriculum.  If he likes, he can take a GHF course, watch a BBC documentary, or find out how to make volcanoes with Pinterest.  If he wants to learn how to speak Icelandic or about the history of indigenous Torres Strait Islanders, he can.  He can learn at his own pace and rate.  He can follow his interests.  His learning has become more three-dimensional.  It's more personal and individualized.  At the moment, such learning would be impossible in a public or private school in our neck of the woods.

Such learning also would not have been so easy or effortless ten years ago or without GHF's help. Before I could even to contemplate un/homeschooling my son, I had to google again and find support groups.  I had to hear from other parents, especially mothers, that I wasn't totally crazy.  I needed to hear from another mother that: 1) I could un/homeschool my son and not totally lose my mind and 2) potentially address the special needs more effectively and efficiently by un/homeschooling and didn't necessarily need an army of therapists or teachers/tutors either.

Since I started un/homeschooling three years ago, I've been educating myself on giftedness with GHF's help and have become skilled at my son's giftedness too.  I've found other 2e mothers and gained an amazing amount of knowledge and insight from them.  I've had the comfort of knowing that GHF is there and that there have been others who have been through a similar journey or more like journeys.  I can spot the traits of giftedness and know the many struggles that mothers often face: the identification journey, the public/private school journey, and the social/emotional journey.

If I ever get stuck with finding educational opportunities, needing support, or finding a child like my son, GHF is there.  If I need a grain-free food recipe suggestion, a therapy tip, or a DIY craft or bar of soap, GHF connects me with Pinterest and numerous resources.  If I need to find a professional to consult, GHF provides a social network or a list or a contact.  If I ever need to link a parent's face to their words, GHF's Facebook page is there.  In this respect, GHF is actually improving my life and no doubt the lives of many other people as well.  It's really an exciting time to un/homeschool and be a part of GHF.  Viva la quantum 2e revolutions!

This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's Tenth Year Anniversary and blog hop Finding Your http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blog-hops/finding-community/.  For more of GHF's blog hops, see http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/