I know I have a page dedicated to what is gifted. Within that page there are gifted myths debunked. However, I also know many people still say to us that “oh your son is gifted, that is a good problem to have” as if that is a compliment. Its all about perspective. In the spectrum of “problems,” sure gifted seems like its a good problem to have. The problem is the comment minimizes what gifted is and the fact that being gifted does not mean life or academics will be easy. The comment ignores the fact that the higher on the gifted spectrum you go, the more problems with over excitability or intensities and asynchronous development exists. The comment ignores the societal hurdles we have to constantly navigate.
Through this journey we have learned homeschooling is now our only choice. DS is too intense and too asynchronous for public school. While in public school we had parents complaining about our child teaching their older children about electronics and electricity (he was in 1st grade at the time). Apparently they didn’t realize electricity is part of 4th and 5th grade science standards. We had teachers complaining that our child was taking the reading rewards of older students (he was 1st grade and choosing the books from the 4th and 5th grade section). Apparently they didn’t realize that the AR rewards were open to any child who saved enough tickets to earn them. In addition our son was taking and passing AR quizzes on books ranging from 3rd grade through 6th grade. We had a teacher who advocated for our son, but it wasn’t enough. Despite given some great opportunities he was still forced to do all the 1st grade work at the same time. Our son needed more and he was demanding more.
The public school, as it is currently set up, cannot handle a child like ours who is working multiple grades ahead of his age and at varying levels pending subject. We know there are other children like ours whom were/are being failed in public school. We are in our 2nd year of homeschooling and our son is ranging from 5th grade to high school. He did awesome on the 5th grade Stanford 10 and has placement tests ranging from 5th through post high school. If we stayed in public school and had done the grade skips they suggested he would only be in a 5th grade classroom as an 8 year old. Problem is, here in TX too many parents hold their children back (“academic red-shirting” or “athletic red-shirting”) that creates a minimum of 2 year age spread per grade level. Knowing our sons intensity and emotional sensitivity combined with his physically small stature, we couldn’t do it. And sadly, the academic instruction of 5th grade alone for all subjects was still not going to be enough for DS. The pace of instruction is too slow.
We had to leave public school because DS’s educational needs were not being met. However, even in the world of homeschooling, gifted is still misunderstood and sometimes a taboo word. Many parents within the home-school community dismiss giftedness or accuse parents who use that word as bragging. We have received funny looks when DS tells them what grade he is or explains what work he does. Thankfully we have found more families that accept our son. The coops around us wouldn’t let our son into pre-algebra classes this year because of his age. In attempt to find an algebra classes for next year, we ran into more of the same. Thus, we are on our own. We have good programs through Art of Problem Solving, EPGY, and various textbooks. Thankfully the science and health museum don’t care about age but rather focus on grade level of functioning. However, we are going to exceed what we can do ourselves very soon. With the improvement of online college courses and online gifted high schools that don’t have age requirements we hope to have more options soon. .
Some people say we are pushing him. Trust me, we are not! We try to slow him down, but it doesn’t work. We present him with the broadest experiences we can and we present diverse materials for him. We go on lots of field trips and take mini-vacations, but that doesn’t slow him down. We encourage and support his tinkering. He has a huge collection of parts. In fact starting at age 4 he asked for broken appliances and electronics as gifts instead of the age typical toys. His gift wish list is not like other 8 year-olds. It is all of his thinking. In fact we leave off some things due to not wanting to explain why he wants that. He also has lists of companies that he wants to go on factory tours in various states so he can visit a new state and a new company.
People do not understand the intensity we live with. Those who know us and have seen him, know that he will be persistent with his questions and sharing his ideas and is constantly thinking of ideas for solving problems. The members of our church have watched our son from as young as three come to church with various parts, manuals, and how-to-guides. They seem to enjoy the surprises he brings and they support his passions. They also know that DS is intense. However, the greater community and society thinks differently.
DS is extremely motivated and driven, especially when its subjects that interest him (science, math, and programming). He catches on quickly. He doesn’t like repetition. He is a perfectionist. He has tons of questions. His brain doesn’t turn off. He wants to learn constantly in order to reach his goal. He doesn’t like social injustices. He has a strong moral compass and expects others to have the same compass he does. He doesn’t understand age restrictions. He thinks it’s unfair that he can’t take the pool technician, plumbing, electrician, or pool safety inspector classes until he is 16-18 pending professional organization. He loves that some of the companies he visits will offer him a job at 16 but he is only 8 and wants to do those things now. For him it is fun, it is his passion or interest. For now, he has to settle with writing to companies, taking field trips to his favorite companies, and tinkering. Thank goodness we are homeschooling. Yes, its tiring on us as parents but it is worth it because we have a happy and motivated son who is learning more than we could have imagined. He is pulling us on a journey we never could have planned.