During the holidays (can be any group gathering), I always seem to encounter questioning. If not direct questioning to me, than direct questioning of my son. Yes, we home school. Yes, our son is gifted. But please, can we just be treated like anyone else.
Here is the typical scenario. They either find out my son is gifted and/or home schooled (or they may have already known this), and then they go question him on what he knows. DS-8 is honest about being at 5th grade to high school, so people (some family, some family of friends, and strangers) take this to mean they should quiz him. When I’ve heard it, it seems like they are quizzing to see if he really knows what others know or if they can find something he doesn’t know as a way to show me he needs more lessons or that he is not gifted. Sometimes, I’ve even been pulled to the side, told what questions my kid got wrong, and that they were concerned about it. They didn’t believe me when I said he really does know but didn’t want to answer their questions.
He has been questioned about whether he knows his verbs, adjectives, and nouns (trust me, he knows way more than that); his states (he passed that test); his continents (he passed that test); and his addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts (he had all addition and subtraction facts up to 12 memorized before age 5 and had multiplication and division memorized shortly after age 7, and he had all his shapes around age 2). My problem is, this is both rude and frustrating as well as it really minimizes what my son has learned and does in fact know. My son is not a quiz show contestant. My son does not enjoy pop quizzes, especially from people he really doesn’t know or if he senses an alternative motive to the questions (which he usually does). My son is extremely sensitive and while in public school already learned to hide some of his knowledge. I’ve learned my son will quickly say “I don’t know.” In fact he knows the answers to the questions (at least the ones I’ve overheard being asked to him or the ones people have confronted me on), he’ll tell them to me later when in the car or at home. He is not going to put on a show. He purposely says he doesn’t know because he wants the questioning to stop, he doesn’t want to be pointed out as different in front of others (especially when with friends), he feels uncomfortable, he feels embarrassed, and he doesn’t enjoy it. He would rather be playing or talking about something specific such as electricity, pool pumps, vacuum cleaners, machines, how things work, wiring, plumbing, physics, Lego, Scratch, snap circuits, projectors, Make, Minecraft, bugs, projects, etc.
I don’t ask any of my friends’ or family member’s kids who attend public school questions about grammar, the states and capitals, etc. I also know many of the people who have done this with my son didn’t do it with their own or other kids. So please don’t do it with mine. In addition, we don’t ask adults these questions when we meet them to see what they know. Imagine if we did? I know I have worked with many parents and teachers who did not know all of the US states nor major cities. There definitely would be awkward social interactions if there was a pop quiz at every gathering. Rather, model appropriate conversation interactions.
If you have questions about what he is learning and where he is at, just ask me. I’ll gladly share what programs, curriculum, books, websites, and stuff we use. And if you really want details, I will share with you various placement test results and other testing data we have. We may not be doing the high stakes testing that is done in the public school, but I have data to support my son’s claims on what grade level he is as well as what grade level we document him as. Trust me, if you had a real conversation with my son, you’d know what he is capable of.
The point is, please don’t question him as if you are trying to prove some point or treat him like a quiz show contestant. Instead, talk with him and have a real conversation. More importantly if he talks to you about something you don’t know or understand, don’t blow him off. It is okay to admit you don’t know or that you are not interested and ask him real questions of interest not insincere quizzical questions. Yes, I know my son is intense. Yes, I know my son is gifted and that we home school. Please remember he is still only a child, 8 at that, and has asynchronous development. He is not perfect, he does not know everything, and we do not expect that of him. We love him as he is! And for him, our homeschooling adventures meet all of his educational needs. This is not a competition or a race.