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!

Books with Quirky Characters – Day 5

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. ANY LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THE AMAZON WEBSITE ARE PART OF THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM. WE ARE A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, AN AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAM DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR US TO EARN FEES BY LINKING TO AMAZON.COM AND AFFILIATED SITES.

 

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

Allysaurus

Young Chapter Books:

Amelia Bedelia

Cam Jansen

Paddington

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.

28103376_unknown

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:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchrony.htm

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/asynchronous.htm

 

A few of my favorite bloggers:

Colleen Kessler at Raising Lifelong Learners

https://raisinglifelonglearners.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-homeschooling-gifted-children/

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley at My Little Poppies

https://my-little-poppies.com/asynchronous-development-and-the-gifted-child/

Celi Trépanier at Crushing Tall Poppies

http://crushingtallpoppies.com/2014/07/15/6-gifted-students-develop-asynchronously/

 

Other worthwhile resources:

From Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-synthesis/201201/many-ages-once

A Scholarly Article by Linda Kreger Silverman

https://positivedisintegration.com/Silverman1997.pdf

Very Well Family

https://www.verywellfamily.com/asynchronous-development-1449172

The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet-Asynchronous%20Development-FINAL%20REVISED-OCTOBER%202017%281%29.pdf

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.

img_4815

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.

29162400_unknown-1

My asynchronous kid added

img_3541

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.

Lessons in Adulting – Self Regulation

Self-regulation starts with self-awareness.

Have you ever thought about it?

We can’t ask ourselves or our kids to control that which they do not see, any more than we can ask a colorblind person to match the colors or someone listening to loud music to respond to verbal commands. It doesn’t work.

And yet, I have been guilty of expecting my kids to do just that. This last couple years, as we’ve come to understand more about our kids and how they tick, our approach has changed.

I am CRAZY proud of my sensory kids and how much more comfortable they’ve become with various sensory triggers. In the last year, we have learned to handle vacuum noises, air hand dryers, and blenders. We have been able to take our kids to the fireworks for the first time, and last month we actually took them to a live show — and had a great experience!

The secret?

Earmuffs. (aff. link on pic)

Crazy, right?

We went from full-on meltdowns to offers to help.

They ask to use the vacuum and to push buttons on the blender.

My kids now ask to use the hand dryers (one of the three still wants me to cover her ears, but she does it).

You know what changed? We started acknowledging our kids’ reactions as valid and giving them tools to self-regulate. We didn’t force them to stay next to the really loud sounds until they got over it – we gave them the earmuffs and space, and they approached us when we were ready.

A couple weeks ago, we went to a family acrobatics/juggling show. I had selected our seats carefully, and I packed the kids’ earmuffs. J, who is 7, didn’t use them. A & E both wore theirs part of the time, adjusting for themselves when they thought they needed it.

It gives them a modicum of control.

This year, a large part of our focus has been those Executive Functioning skills. the ability to plan, regulate, organize yourself in the day-to-day activities of life.

I’ve been working through

Smart but Scattered (aff)

And reading everything The OT Toolbox puts out about executive function, self-regulation.

We’ve been playing lots of board games, card games, and movement games (like Mother May I).

We’ve been talking about possible reactions to different scenarios, modeling having a choice of how we respond.

We’ve been strengthening pathways to the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain where reason and logic lie).

And we’ve been listening to our kids – asking them to pay attention to their bodies and the signals they’re getting.

Just like awareness of toileting needs precedes toilet training, awareness of hunger precedes appropriate food portioning, awareness of time precedes activity planning, and more.

There’s a really good post by the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada that’s been going around about the phrase “be careful”. The thing is – so often, kids don’t know what we’re actually telling them to be careful of. They probably would be careful if they saw the danger as we do. We need to point out what in particular they should be aware of.

When I started Driver’s Ed, the teacher projected a slide. In it were various road hazards, cars on the road, cars waiting to turn, etc. He started calling us up, one by one, to point out what we thought we should be paying attention to. The answers were all over the place.

The exercise, though more than 20 years ago, made an impression on me, as I realized how we can only react to that of which we are aware.

That’s a gift we can give our kids, as well. We can recognize that they don’t see the world through our lenses (which is not necessarily a bad thing!), and that in order to make wise choices they first need to be able to see their options, and process them, in an environment that is safe, supportive, and not overwhelming.

—-

This post is the 2nd in a series I’m calling “Lessons in Adulting”. Click here to read the first installment!

 

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. ANY LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THE AMAZON WEBSITE ARE PART OF THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM. WE ARE A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, AN AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAM DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR US TO EARN FEES BY LINKING TO AMAZON.COM AND AFFILIATED SITES.

Lessons in Adulting

The other day, I was cooking dinner, opened a ziplock bag, and left it on my electric cooktop for a moment.

A corner was touching a hot burner and melted. After I scraped it up and cleaned the area, I called my 7yo into the room. I wanted him to see my mistake – that I made one, how I handled it, that it was ok.

Have you ever taken a step back and thought about your kid’s perception of you? Of what your life is like? Of the things that are important to you?

Chances are, your children have little clue about your motivations, frustrations, and thought processes when it comes to decision making and problem solving. That either goes on in your head or behind closed doors.

It’s easy to model concrete skills: how to peel a carrot, how to wash a window, how to sort the laundry. These activities break down into simple, observable steps that can be easily verbalized.

This year, I’ve realized that I need to be much more intentional in modeling those oh-so-important skills that are less concrete.

You see, my kids think I have it pretty together. I don’t typically complain in front of them about doing chores I don’t like. They see me primarily doing things I’m already pretty good at, and they hear the final decisions rather than the crazy back & forth that led up to it.

With that in mind, I have embarked on 3 Lessons in Adulting this year (and lots of sidebars as well):

Lesson # 1: We all have tasks we don’t enjoy

There are some chores I don’t mind, like putting away the dishes or running the vacuum, but I hate dusting. Part of it may have to do with my dust allergy, but these insidious little particles that get everywhere drive me nuts.

Yes, I’m teaching my kids to clean with good attitudes, but I also need to acknowledge to them that there are things I don’t enjoy either, and then model that I deal with it and do it anyways.

Lesson #2: Mistakes are normal

I don’t want my kids to be afraid of making mistakes. In fact, I want them to learn that mistakes are normal, expected, and part of the growing process.

I want them to know that I make mistakes and to model healthy ways to deal with that, whether that is cleaning up a spill or re-doing a project that got messed up.

We frequently talk about the time Mama knocked the bottom shelf out of the refrigerator, breaking a bunch of glass bottles and spilling various dressings and sauces all over the kitchen floor – not because it’s a fun conversation, but because they need to know that they’re not alone in making mistakes, that we all make them, and that it’s okay.

I also want to teach the principle of using those mistakes for something better. Barney Saltzberg has an amazing book, Beautiful OOPS (not an affiliate link), that celebrates what can be done with the pieces of a mistake.

The same principle can be found in that beautiful Japanese art of Kintsugi, which takes broken pieces, mends them with gold, and makes something beautiful out of brokenness.

ncPMbsOJ3HSes0Xn9kE6_1065306615

 

Lesson #3: Failure is expected

I remember going skiing in high school. When I came home, I bragged to my dad that I never fell. He looked at me and said, “then you didn’t improve”. I didn’t push myself. I played it safe.

How can we help our kids learn that failure is normal and ok? That everyone who learns to ride a bike will fall at some point. That not every cooking project will work out.

We can’t be afraid of failure. We have to try new things, go outside our comfort zones, and learn new skills. We need to model this for our kids and create a culture in our homes that accepts these bumps along the way.

We need to teach our kids that to be human is to make mistakes, to accept each other for our flaws and variety of strengths, and that there is no shame in failure. Instead, it’s just preparing us for the next thing.

I read an amazing book a couple weeks ago. It’s called The Boy Who Played with Fusion (not an affiliate link). The premise of the book is that this family has 2 gifted boys, one of whom is experimenting with nuclear reactions, and how they as a family navigate this road. There are mistakes, setbacks, and disappointments, but they as a family figure out how to support each other and weather these challenges. It’s inspirational. And it’s possible.

This post is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for April 2018.

Click on the image below to read more!

29542225_10214040956590538_5281466626022969229_n