This month, I am contributing to the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop on “Homeschooling a gifted/2e kid.”
Life is full of surprises. A couple of years ago, we moved to a different neighborhood, hoping to find better public schools for our kids. “Wave of New Charter Schools Enhance Inner City Living for Families”, Inga Cotton, Rivard Report, November 12, 2013. Meanwhile, I started this blog to spread the word about high-performing charter schools. “San Antonio mom blogger Inga Cotton with SA Charter Moms”, Colleen Pence, San Antonio Mom Blogs, January 25, 2012.
Then, last spring, I learned the hard lesson that even “good” schools don’t work for all kids—especially if your child is gifted or 2e. (2e or “twice exceptional” refers to when a child is gifted and also has learning differences or emotional or mental health disorders; see Resources: Twice-Exceptional (2e).) So, I made the decision to homeschool my six-year-old son, who goes by “F.T.” online. “A Lesson for New Homeschool Parents”, Inga Cotton, Red White & Grew, August 19, 2013.
The plan is to homeschool F.T. for one year until we can get a spot at our first choice charter school. (If we get bad news at the lottery, we might go to a backup school or homeschool for another year.) Even though things didn’t turn out the way I expected, this is a special time I get to spend with my son, and we are making the most of it.
So, we have been homeschooling for a little over a month now. Here are some notes about our activities, curriculum, etc.
In August, we ramped up on reading. The goal is to have F.T. read a book out loud to me every weekday. In reality, it’s about three or four books per week. We go to the library about twice a week and he chooses his books from the beginning reader shelves—level 1, 2, or 3.
Also in August, we started phasing in more group activities, such as science and art classes at local museums. We also joined a homeschool group that hosts weekly playdates in the park. (If you want suggestions about activities to try, just leave a comment or message me on Facebook or Twitter, and I’d be happy to share.)
In September, we beefed up the schedule of activities, and F.T. adjusted to a new speech therapist. We got in the habit of playing classical music radio in the car, as mentioned in this earlier post about the symphony.
So far in October, we have added flash cards to the math routine. They are a good way to use of short amounts of time, when it’s not practical to unpack the workbooks and “manipulatives” (e.g., bag of Legos). We keep trying new activities, and there are some other projects on the drawing board. (Poetry? Chess?)
For record keeping, I keep a daily log—just a text file on my laptop—and I take photos of worksheets, artworks, science experiments, book covers, etc. as F.T. completes them.
Some of my friends and family were skeptical at first, but they can see how much happier and more outgoing F.T. is now.
Contrary to the myth that says you can’t work and homeschool, I am doing both. (There’s a GHF book about that, How to Work and Homeschool.) When do I work? I go to the office for a few hours on weekends while my husband watches the kids. Most of my writing for the blog happens in the early morning or the late evening. When I am covering an evening event for the blog, the extended family helps with child care. For daytime meetings, F.T. grabs his iPad and comes with me; sometimes he borrows the whiteboard.
What are my concerns? F.T. is an advanced reader, but I worry about falling behind in math. He dislikes handwriting, so I am putting that off for now, but we’ll need to pick it up again soon. And, I worry about making the transition back to a classroom next year.
My house is messy, and I don’t get enough sleep. But we are living a life that is rich in the things that really matter: relationships and experiences.
I hope you found it helpful to read this account of the first month or so of our homeschooling experience. Choosing to homeschool was a risk, but so far it is paying off with F.T.’s happiness and joy in learning. If you have questions about how we are doing it, leave a comment or message me on Facebook or Twitter, and I will try to answer or steer you in the right direction. Also, I recommend that you explore the other posts in today’s blog hop.
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum is a great resource for empowered parents—homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike—and I encourage you to like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Pinterest, and consider becoming a member.