Stages Towards Homeschooling for Gifted/2e Families

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

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?

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“But They Only Want to Play Games!”

But They Only Want to Play Games, yellowreadis.com | Picture: Minecraft character in black and red on wooden platform looking directly at camera

It’s the perennial question – are they really learning? This can be particularly acute when your kids seem to spend all day playing computer games (or horror – watching other people on YouTube play games).

This is our reality at the moment. Of course, I have been knocked around with a lovely infection, so there has been a tad less guidance than usual ( and thank goodness for antibiotics!)

But despite this, there are a number of things that we have done to actually aide, encourage and help our kids learn the things we think they need to learn while immersed in their ‘everything is a game‘ world.

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Teaching a Child Who Won’t Be Taught

Text: "Teaching a Child Who Won't Be Taught" "yellowreadis.com" Pictures: Boy in blue shorts and top lying on wooden bridge, minecraft pig on a white rock, pea pod on vine, young child in striped top playing with a tablet

How to educate a child who won’t be taught? It’s not a question I thought I’d ever need to answer, but life (and my daughter) decided this was the path we needed to follow.

Today, I’m going to talk about a few of the strategies I use to create a welcoming learning environment that steers my kids in the direction they need to go, without explicitly ‘teaching’ them.

Text: "Teaching a Child Who Won't Be Taught" "yellowreadis.com" Pictures: Boy in blue shorts and top lying on wooden bridge, minecraft pig on a white rock, pea pod on vine, young child in striped top playing with a tablet

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Unexpected Moments: Trusting the Process of Self-Directed Learning

Pictures: Hand drawing flow chart, Toy bear in hat on grass. Text: Unexpected Moments, Trusting the Process of Self-Directed Learning

We have had our moments with homeschooling. Moments of doubt, moments of fear, and moments where it felt like disaster was just a step away. It was almost inevitable once we decided to do things in a very different way. Will it work? Were my kids learning? Will I stay sane? These were the questions that plagued me.

Pictures: Hand drawing flow chart, Toy bear in hat on grass. Text: Unexpected Moments, Trusting the Process of Self-Directed Learning

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Creating an Unschooling Environment for my 2e Kids”

Adapting our homeschooling environment to support our kids needs has been a work in progress that has taken years of trial and error. I personally love the idea of self-directed learning and unschooling, but I have had to adapt it to fit the needs of my children.

As much as I would love to be able to say ‘you can do whatever you want’ and let it happen (with me strewing and facilitating, but having the kids in charge), it hasn’t happened. Instead, we have taken a lot of slow, small steps in that direction, and have had to treat it as more of an end goal than a blueprint.

Over time, (and with an understanding of their neurological differences) I have come to understand why my children need support and why those supports need to be different for each child.

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Unconventional Learning;

We’re a geeky kind of family. With me being a mathematician and my DH an engineer, it would be hard to not be geeky. We’re also not going to score high on the ‘doing things conventionally’ test, if one of those existed. But sometimes, just sometimes, the paths my kids take to learn are so unconventional that they leave me with a feeling of stunned awe (and a little bit of ‘where in the sweet unicorns on a pegasus did that come from‘?).

Being the kind of family that we are, we were never going to let our kids going to coast through on understanding how computers work. And being the kind of homeschool mum that I am, I had grand plans of my kids learning how to program, helping them navigate through learning the basics of making computers ‘do things’ – I had plans.

And then the kids got sick. And then they got sick again, and again . . . and just when I thought we’d have a week free of illness, another nasty virus took up residence. So instead of doing all the fabulous strewing I was planning, I ended up with two very sick little children who spent the next few weeks in and out of bed (and yes, it’s still ongoing, sigh). Now we have one very important rule in our house – sick children get to rest. And with kids whose minds won’t stop, both embarked on a long, bandwidth hogging binge on streaming videos.
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Unschooling Ain’t The Boogie Man

Every now and then, usually when news is a little slow, prominent papers like to do little fluff pieces on the edges of the educational world. One week might be about lambasting ‘pushy parents,’ another week an angry remonstrance on the horrors of alternative education. Personally, I find it deeply amusing that, depending on the flavour of the month, our little family can be both academically pushing and overly restrictive tiger-parents, and laissez-faire, academically neglectful parents at the same time.

In July, it was Mamamia’s turn to have-a-go at the punch-the-alternative-education bandwagon.

The topic this time around? Unschooling.

So what is unschooling? And why does it raise so many hackles?
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Scheduling the Chaos

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write a post. This has less to do with actually being over-the-top busy (which is almost always the case), and more to do with being completely disorganized!

So last week I decided ( after we showed up over half and hour late to a gymnastics class) that I needed to put a bit of scheduling into our free-form natural-learning journey.

This week is our trial week. And so far it has been a success. So far.
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