Stages Towards Homeschooling for Gifted/2e Families

Today, I am going to talk about the stages of disengagement from the education system* that I have witnessed over the years.

Now, I am not an expert, nor am I a teacher. In fact, I am one of those rare things – a parent of twice-exceptional children who has never had to sit through an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or  ILP (Individual Learning Plan) meeting.

But I do volunteer as a contact for families who are in trouble. After more than 100 emails, phone calls and chatting in person, I have a pretty up front and personal view of exactly how these go wrong.

Actually it’s probably far more than 100, but I lost count once it hit triple digits.

I would love to say that each situation is different and unique. That it does not follow any kind of pattern and is always just the intersection of a set of unusual circumstances. But I can’t.

So, what are the stages?

Text: Stages Towards Homeschooling for Gifted/2e Families, Image: Textas in a cup

*This post actually follows on from an older post,  Gifted vs Gifted. I would highly recommend reading that post first and then popping back over here.

Stage One

The first stage is usually about information gathering. Families notice that their child’s mental health is declining – they are disengaged at school. They may be acting out due to boredom. The bright, engaged preschooler has disappeared into a stressed school child, who is now avoiding the things they used to love – like learning new stuff.

Often, the parents have already talked to the teacher:  they asked  if their child could do a bit of extension work; or they may even have mentioned the dreaded word – acceleration.

The problem is often particularly acute for kids in kindergarten or first grade, where they may already know how to read and write but have to sit through lesson after lesson on letter sounds, or how to count.

If talking to the teacher doesn’t work,  parents often aren’t sure what to do. Often the words “pushy parents” is whispered. That’s when they’ll feel they need professional help – usually a psychologist.

This is when they will contact me the first time,
Do you know a psychologist/ specialist who can help figure out what is going on with my child?”

(NB. If the teacher and school listen, the parents won’t contact me.  This is true for each of these stages, but I thought it worth pointing out here first.)

Stage Two

Report in hand, a parent will now go back to their school. They have an assessment. They have a (very detailed) set of recommendations. Surely, surely they’ll be able to get their child the help they need, right?


A stage two contact happens after the assessment and ILP/IEP meetings have been done and the recommendations are not implemented.
For gifted children (with or without a disability), this happens often. This is because there are 4 different categories of giftedness, but teachers, and even education researchers only learn about one category.
Unfortunately, the education interventions needed for each category are completely different. A psychologist’s report on recommended interventions based on best practice research for a child in one of the other three different categories is often ignored.
This is not from malice, or ill-intent, but because those recommendations are actually a bad idea for children in category one.
Because they all use the same name, gifted, the wrong help is offered due to an accidental confusion of terminology.

Image: Tea in mug with spoon

Stage Three

Sadly, this usually leads to stage three – a desperate search for another school.
Many times, finding a school that is more flexible is enough to get everyone back on track.

But the more unusual the child, i.e. the higher the IQ, or the greater the number of disabilities, the less likely they will find an environment that will work.

For highly to profoundly gifted kids, the chances of finding a school that will meet their needs is vanishingly small. Add in a disability or two, or six, and it makes finding a needle in a haystack a fun and relaxing activity.
Knowing a bit about the many education options available in your country or state is one of the things a good home education organisation can help with. Often, there are many flexible options for homeschooling that are neither 100% school nor 100% homeschool.

Stage Four

This is where the family decides that they have no choice. This is a stage we arrived at rather fast: my son was in preschool when we started; my daughter never did anything beyond a little early intervention kindergarten.
The good news? Often it is better than expected. Also, as the stress goes down, often so do many of the behavioural challenges.
But it can be a juggling act. Getting doctors and specialists on board can be one of the unique challenges of homeschooling 2e kids. It will also usually involve a lot of compromise.
Image: Globe with Pink Hat

It’s Going to Be OK, Really

If you are at one of these stages – but are unsure what to do next, that’s OK. It takes time to work through the stages. If you are lucky, you might find the perfect school or learning environment before desperation kicks in.
It’s also easy to see getting to stage four as a kind of failure. “If only I had done X, maybe we could have made it work.
But it’s not.

If you are teetering on the edge of deciding what to do, remember: none of these are forever decisions. There are always other options. Kids develop. Education options change.

And homeschooling is actually not as hard as you probably imagine it to be.

If you have a 2e kid, you’re probably already doing everything you need to at home already.

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