Are you in survival mode while homeschooling your gifted child? When our expectations make gifted homeschooling a drag, we just need to remember a few key tips.
Survival mode belongs in Minecraft, not homeschooling.
I’ve heard longtime homeschoolers discuss it in hushed tones, hunched in earnest over a box of tissues and a good red wine. You know the survival I’m talking about – the years you teach the three R’s by the skin of your teeth, muddling through the basics as you wrestle a life change or protracted illness.
That hasn’t been the case for us.
Oh we’ve been living in survival mode, alright, but there’s no new baby or tango with the flu. It’s the curriculum zombies, extracurricular creepers, and sensory skeletons that have forced us into hiding with our hoard of iron and wood.
The kids are stressed.
Homeschooling has been a gigantic ball of stress.
Homeschooling my gifted kids has been a major drag.
Ending up in survival mode
When you’re homeschooling gifted children, it’s easy to fall into a giant pile of should.
You should be able to do this on your own.
Why can’t you do this on your own?
You should be able to finish in ten minutes.
Why can’t you finish in ten minutes?
You should be able to rock this assignment.
Why can’t you rock this assignment?
When we fold to the notions of “gifted education”, our kids become intellect alone. It’s no longer about who they are as people but how quickly they can absorb information, tie shoes on their feet, and make it to the car in one piece (which is exactly why all our shoes are Velcro).
None of this is intentional, of course, and we’d knock anyone who boxed our kids into a WISC-IV or KTEA, right? But it’s so easy to fall into this trap ourselves:
We know what our kids are capable of.
We know their hobbies and interests.
We know we have other responsibilities, both professional and domestic.
To handle all of this, it’s tempting to plop down a worksheet, tell them to read it, and plow through the million things on our to-do list while they’re occupied, all before the start of that afternoon homeschool arts program.
But what is that doing to our kids? What is it doing to us? When we’re in this place, life at home starts looking like all the reasons we quit school.
They were good reasons.
And they’re still good, valid reasons, perfect for spurring us out of survival mode and into creative.
We just have to remember a few things.
How to get out of survival mode: tips to remember
Gifted children aren’t perfect.
Their little minds may be brilliant and their abilities off the chart, but they’re kids, not brains, and they’re going to make mistakes. The more we role model a growth mindset, the more our kids will be to overcome fear of failure and imposter syndrome.
Gifted children aren’t adults.
They may speak like grown-ups. They may think like grown-ups. But they can’t function like grown-ups, and we shouldn’t expect them to.
Gifted children need discovery and delight.
We don’t have to force something because it’s in the curriculum (or worse, because they “should” be able to do it). Take sensory breaks. Pursue rabbit holes. Play games and find discoveries outside. If they aren’t enjoying the process of discovery, what’s the point in continuing homeschool?
Gifted children benefit from change, even if it’s scary at first.
This is a tough one for me. I’m a creature of habit, and change is terrifying. But when we are surviving, not thriving, I have to remind myself that change can be good. Just because the current course is what we’ve always done doesn’t mean it’s right.
Learning to thrive
When we’re homeschooling gifted children, it’s easy to forget what brought us to this journey in the first place. Like the brilliant little minds before us, we hyperfocus on the way things should be – or, at least, the way we think things should be. We build our chests, gather our diamonds, then sit on them for fear some creeper might send it all sky high. But what kind of life is that? Aren’t we supposed to be building diamond armor and swords? What about jukeboxes, fireworks, or bright, shiny houses?
Our children are more than hoarded supplies. They’re creators. Inventors. Valiant Steves brandishing weapons of wit. Let’s let our children be themselves. It’s the fastest way out of survival, and we’ll all be better for it.