Like Father, Like Son – Giftedness across the Generations

This week, I’ve been watching the Bright & Quirky Online Summit, a video conference of all things 2e, anxiety, gifted, ADHD, etc. It’s been great – encouraging & enlightening.

One thing that struck me as a common theme in so many of these talks is how often parents started to understand their own giftedness, their own struggles with sensitivity or executive function, as they watched their children struggle and wanted to help them.

I was describing one of the talks to my husband, talking about the gifted characteristic of Rage to Master, and he got a smile on his face. I had been describing how gifted individuals have a strong need to complete a challenge, to fully understand a problem, to not give up until it had been conquered — and this fits my husband to a T. He had just been building a swing set for the kids, and my multiple reminders about not overdoing it, taking a break, etc, had not phased him. Once he started a new challenge, he wanted to see it through.

The funny thing is – for parents who grew up without a “gifted” label, this behavior is normal. It’s normal because it was their experience. It’s normal to be ultra-sensitive to sound or smells, normal to feel bored and disconnected in school, normal to be clumsy or sensory seeking, normal for academics to come easy but the social stuff to be hard. And that causes us to doubt our own kids, to minimize their struggles, because we were the same and made it through.

Yet, as we watch this next generation and learn from all the amazing research and experiences of others in similar situations, we can start to have empathy for ourselves too, to understand why things may have been so hard or awkward for us.

If this is you – seeing yourself in your kid’s struggles, I would encourage you to start reading. SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is a great place to start, as are some of the bloggers in this group who write about gifted adult populations, and many of the presenters in the Bright & Quirky Summit.

Giftedness can sometimes come out of nowhere, but it is often hereditary, so as we learn with our children what makes them tick, we can also understand ourselves, spouses, siblings, and parents better too.

This post has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for May, 2018. Click on over to read more about giftedness in adult populations!

Chemistry Resources for Curious Kids

For a year now, my seven-year-old has been in love with chemistry. He has other interests and will participate in other activities, but on an average day, he probably spends 2-3 hours in chemistry-related activities, just because he loves it.

He tells people he’s going to grow up to be a chemist. I don’t know if this is true, or if this interest will wane like astronomy did a couple years ago, by for right now, this is the world we’re living in. I thought I would share some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) resources in an approximate order of complexity or academic level, in case anyone else shares a similar interest or wants to explore.


We started out with this book. It’s wonderful, as are most of the Basher books. The reading level is upper elementary, and the periodic table is divided into groups based on properties, and then all of these groups and elements are given comic figure status, with short, dynamic descriptions of what they do.

Basher also has a Chemistry book which can be helpful in identifying terminology and how things work, but if you’re going to start with one, I would definitely go for Elements in Style.

At about the same level, ASAP Science has a great updated Periodic Table song.

Quick note: not all of ASAP Science’s videos are G-Rated, just as an FYI.

J was enamored by this point by the Periodic Table. We got him this shirt from Amazon. It’s his favorite, and he wears it as often as it is clean. It’s super soft, for those with sensory issues. We love it.

After he had the basics down, we borrowed and then bought Theodore Gray’s Elements trilogy. These are his favorites. His books are falling apart because he’d read them so much. The writing is at a high school level, but the thing that exudes from these books is someone who truly enjoys what he’s writing about. He includes silly puns and writes intelligently, but not patronizingly. And the photography is gorgeous. There’s also an app, which we don’t have, but I hear it’s pretty cool.

Around this time, we borrowed a bunch of other resources from the library. Our favorite of all the middle-high school general info books was The Elements by Dan Green, who incidentally also wrote Basher’s Chemistry book. His writing is good, and he manages to communicate the vibrant nature of chemistry rather than dry facts to memorize.

A neighbor who had seen J drawing the periodic table on our driveway recommended the NOVA documentary “Hunting the Elements” (Season 39, Epsisode 6). It’s great – very accessible and interesting for kids and adults, and there’s even a segment where Theodore Gray (above) shows off his Periodic Table table and demonstrates some reactions.

Around the time that J started studying Gray’s 2nd book, Molecules, we also picked up The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, which is intended as a study aid for AP or college level chemistry. He has been through it a few times, and each time he seems to pick up more about how reactions work, balancing chemical equations, and other phenomena.

My family also gave J a book for Christmas that’s not exclusively chemistry but does a great job putting everything into perspective. It’s probably geared for grades 5-8 but is accessible for other levels too.

PBS made a fascinating series called The Mystery of Matter, tracing the development of the periodic table. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime (April 2018). We skipped about 20 minutes of Episode 3 because atomic bombs and WWII are still too mature for my crew, but we loved how actors dressed as scientists and spoke and demonstrated the equipment used to make their discoveries as it traced the journey from alchemy to the present day.

I was looking for something more practical regarding how molecules form, etc., and that’s when we discovered the Valence card game. We played it for 60 days straight. No joke. It does a great job introducing oxidation numbers and modeling simple reactions. Then we discovered Valence Plus, which has even more elements and combinations, and that is now our game of choice.

Our most recent fascination is powered by Happy Atoms, a molecular building set combined with an iPad app that lets you photograph and “discover” and learn about hundreds and even thousands of common molecules, using the most common elements. I’ve been very impressed with this app and building set. It’s unique in how it models ionic and covalent bonds, and because of its magnets, it’s easy to see whether all of the electron bonds have been satisfied.

These have been our favorites thus far. I will update this post as we discover more great resources.

Some other interesting things we’ve found have been

BrainPop videos – geared to upper elementary, short explanations (subscription service)

Usborne’s “What’s Chemistry All About?” – J asked for this for his good night story tonight. It’s written at a middle school level and has nice, straightforward introductions to terminology and concepts.

Usborne also came out with a Periodic Table Lift the Flap book. We don’t have it, but it seems to be a good intro-level resource.

Kahn Academy has good video descriptions/lectures for various topics, so we have occasionally gone there if there’s a concept he wants to understand that I can’t help him with.

Other good resource lists:

App suggestions:

What about you? Do you have any favorite resources?

Books with Quirky Characters – Day 5



So… yesterday (actually, a few days ago!), on Day 4 of my 5 Day series on Asynchrony,

I promised a list of some of our favorite books with quirky main characters.

I’m always on the hunt for high quality books which feature characters who may seem not to fit in but are still loved and valued for who they are. If you know of some not on my list, please comment below!

Picture books :

Archibald Frisby

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ladybug Girl books

Sophie’s Squash


Young Chapter Books:

Amelia Bedelia

Cam Jansen


How to Train Your Dragon

Pippi Longstocking

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and most Roald Dahl works

Older Chapter Books:

A Wrinkle in Time

Anne of Green Gables

Harry Potter

The Hunger Games

The Wizard of Oz

Plus pretty much any YA fantasy novel, including those by Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funke


Again, this list could go on & on, so I’m just sharing some of my favorites. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments!


This post has been day 5 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of the iHomeschooling Network’s Blog Hopscotch.

Thanks for letting me share with you!



Asynchrony Day 4 – What Works for Us

Asynchronous kids are awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them or for their families to find ways to fit in.

I’ve already described in days 1 & 2 some of the struggles that asynchronous kids face.

Today I’d like to talk about what has been working for us.

1 – Homeschool

We did the public school thing for a couple years, even though it wasn’t a great fit. It was still a safe place for J to interact with other kids and to have a break from his twin sisters’ screaming fits. (His sisters are great, but there are two of them, and they have pretty much always been loud – at home, at least.)

When he came up with algebra on his own when he was five, we took a deep breath and started sending math notes in his lunch box.

When he memorized the periodic table at six, and started showing unhealthy signs of stress, we did the paperwork for him to homeschool.

(Here he just learned about Mendeleev, and was thinking about alternate arrangements for the periodic table. At 6. You can’t make this stuff up.)

It’s been wonderful. He loves it. I can work with him on his writing, which is developmentally normal (7), provide math a few grade levels ahead, let him read his college-level chemistry books and spend hours immersing himself in that, and still have time for some motor skills practice and play – which he needs. He’s 7.

Some people advocate for grade skipping, and that works for some kids in some situations, but homeschool was the right choice for us. For now, at least.

2 – Mixed Age Groups

Asynchronous kids tend to struggle with same-aged peer groups, simply because there is an unwritten expectation that they will all be the same, so my 7yo who can’t yet ride a bike but would like to talk about double land-locked countries in Europe stands out.

In mixed age groups, that expectation is minimized. He can help younger kids, who expect him to be academically further along, or chat with older kids, who can keep up mentally but don’t expect him to be physically or emotionally a peer.

A few friends and I created a really sweet homeschool coop this year. Some kids can read, some are too young or are on their way. Some are neurotypical, and others have various disabilities, but our goal has been to encourage healthy interactions and to give the kids chances to share their own voices. It’s been good.


3 – A Relaxed Pace

I’m in no way implying that J has a relaxed pace when it comes to what he wants to learn. No, he actually devours new knowledge, and we have to slow him down, or he will go into overdrive and have trouble self-regulating.

What I mean is that, because of his personality and learning style, we don’t push lots of formalized curricula. Instead, we explore together, focus on doing a few things well, and maybe add one challenging or not-self-motivated item at a time. He’ll get there.

4 – Bibliotherapy

We read lots of books around here, and I’m always on the hunt for books that feature quirky main characters who don’t always fit in but are still loved and appreciated by those around them.

I’ll post about these tomorrow. đŸ™‚

This has been Day 4 of my 5 Days of a Asynchrony series, part of a blog hopscotch organized by iHomeschool Network.

Asynchrony – Favorite Bloggers and Thinkers

If anything I’ve been writing in a Days 1 or 2 of this series has been striking a chord with you, here are some resources I have found helpful:

Hoagies Gifted is a wonderful resource of all things gifted – little kids to adults, all types of school environments, etc. They have a number of Asynchrony articles and resources. Here are two to get you started:


A few of my favorite bloggers:

Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley at My Little Poppies

Celi Trépanier at Crushing Tall Poppies


Other worthwhile resources:

From Psychology Today

A Scholarly Article by Linda Kreger Silverman

Very Well Family

The National Association for Gifted Children

This article is Day 3 of the iHomeschool Network 2018 Hopscotch.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about what works for our family, tricks and tools we’ve been picking up along the way.

Asynchrony Day 2 – it’s not your fault

Yesterday I started sharing a little bit of our story and how Asynchrony affects our family, especially my son.

He was reading – fluently – before he was potty trained. And we didn’t teach him to read. Sure, we read a lot together, and he watched shows like Super Why and Word World occasionally, but we didn’t ever sit down and do sight words or phonics lessons. He just picked it up.

It’s not hot-housing.

Asynchrony has very little to do with how a parent parents and very much to do with how a kid is wired.

We have 3 kids. I didn’t treat the other two any differently or deprive them of any opportunities, but they are 4 and still months away from any kind of formal reading exercise. That’s ok. They’re doing great.

When J was 3, he was interested in reading, numbers, astronomy, and sticker books. He would sit for hours doing these things, not because I forced him but because that was what he was drawn to, where his interests lay.

It’s perfectly logical, then, that the parts of his brain that got the most exercise grew the fastest. Now, I wasn’t a terrible mom. We had play dates, gymnastics, swimming lessons, church nursery, library programs, and even a creative arts preschool because I wanted him to have lots of opportunities to move, create, and interact with other kids and adults, and he participated, sometimes more happily than others, but it wasn’t his passion.

He grew most in the areas he loved and cared deeply about. Not because I or anyone else pushed him.

J is now 7, and Asynchrony is still our constant companion, but it now takes different forms. It means he’s more comfortable with adults than peers (more about that later this week), and that we often struggle to find reading material that is both challenging and appropriate for his emotional development. I have even asked the library for “boring” books — the opposite of those high interest/low reading level books that most others are looking for.


A couple weeks ago, our kids created a “town” with masking tape roads, locations on index cards, etc. It started as a co-op activity and then continued at home.


My asynchronous kid added


Hennig Brand (who discovered the element phosphorous) to the street plan.

No one put him up to it, asked him to include famous historical figures, or anything of the sort. It’s how he “ticks”, not any kind of external expectation.

Asynchrony is a description, not a diagnosis. It describes these kids with intense internal drives to understand more, do more, know more, and how they interact with the world around them.

This is Day 2 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of a blog hopscotch put together by the inspiring people at iHomeschool Network.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about some of my favorite bloggers and writers who have helped me wrap my mind around asynchrony and given me ideas to help our family.

Thursday I’ll be posting about what works for us, as well as for other families with asynchronous members.

5 Days of Asynchrony

About 2 years ago, I first stumbled across the term asynchronous, and in many ways, it felt like I had just stumbled upon a user’s manual for my son, who was five at the time.

Later this week, I’ll share some of my favorite links to other bloggers, educators, and researchers who gave helped to shape my understanding of asynchrony, but today, I get to tell my story.

Asynchrony is, in a nutshell, development outside of the expected developmental window. It’s usually a combination of really early and really late at the same time.

It means, in our case,

  • early reading but late collaborative play
  • early math but late physical coordination
  • early awareness of people’s emotions but late development of the maturity to deal with said emotions
  • early interest in and understanding of the world coupled with late development of the social skills that ease peer interactions

It’s not easy.

I’m not complaining. I’m grateful for J and who he is, and I’m especially grateful that I can homeschool him. Public school can be rough for asynchronous kids.

We tried it. He went to public school for kindergarten & first grade. It wasn’t an entirely negative experience, and we worked with some talented and dedicated educators along the way, but look at this:

A side-by-side comparison of what they did at school and what he was naturally drawn to at home.

There’s no judgement for the teachers intended in this picture. Their responsibility is to teach all the students, so of course they choose work that is accessible for most students, but my kid… he gets to twiddle his thumbs.

Meanwhile, he needs to spend time in small groups, interacting, playing, learning to trust his peers, but that’s not what the school had time for.

So we homeschool.

Here, we can spend 5 minutes on the multiplication tables and half an hour on shoe tying.

Here, we can set up play dates and small group interactions in a supported environment where he can practice those very important “soft” skills.

Here, he’s free to spend hours a day reading and learning about chemistry, rather than being told he can’t balance a chemical equation until 10th grade.


And most importantly, here he isn’t constantly being told that there’s something wrong with him. He isn’t being compared to “normal” and being made (unintentionally) to feel like an outsider, just because his brain and body happen to be on a different timeline.

He’s celebrated for who he is, and we can always focus the next thing, regardless of what the developmental charts say we should be doing.

Come back tomorrow and the rest of the week for 4 more days of Asynchrony, how it plays out in our family, links to other resources, and maybe some helpful tips for you as well, if you’re in a similar boat.

And read more from other bloggers at the iHomeschool Network through the graphic below!