My heart felt like it would pound out of my chest.
It was 2am and as I laid in bed, fear gripped me in a vice as the thought tortured me about what would lie ahead for my son who has speech delay.
Only hours earlier I had read an article on gifted children. It was the article that finally began to help things make sense for us.
I climbed out of bed and sat down at the computer where I spent the next three hours researching ways I could help him tap into his gifting, but function in a world that can sometimes be so cruel.
That is when I nearly passed over an article that was the missing piece to the puzzle that has been my 5 year old.
Yes – I can almost see the collective eye-roll, because every parent believes their child is the next Albert Einstein. No – I do not believe my child is a genius.
Einstein Syndrome occurs most often in gifted boys and is usually accompanied by speech delay because they simply do not have any interest in learning to speak, partly because their little brains work at a higher level than their capability to communicate.
As I read the article, tears literally poured down my face. It was like I was finally able to climb into my son’s heart and understand him for the first time.
Suddenly it occurred to me that my decision to pull back on conventional schooling may have been a mistake. While he liked it at first, he began to miss school. He asked to do school everyday. I would patiently explain to him that the speech practices, play therapy, and all the rest were school. But he was bored with what I was doing and it frustrated him.
I didn’t understand that he needed a challenge. And he didn’t need me forcing speech on him. He clearly wasn’t interested in that, and forcing it on him was only exacerbating the problem.
You see, all along my friends had tried to tell me that my son was different. Gifted. Unusually observant.
The day after he was born, the nurse brought him to me and exclaimed to me, “Look at how that baby is looking around the room! His eyes are so wise, it’s like he’s studying everything around him!”
I received these kinds of comments about our son by friends and strangers alike all the time when he was an infant.
Sure, I knew he was an “old soul”. He got that from his mama. And I knew that we had to be very careful doing things like turning on the stove or oven, or using a lighter to light candles, because it was enough for him to watch us once. It was like he had a photographic memory.
He beats the pants off of me at memory.
The next morning we returned to our usual alphabet recitation.
He was over the moon.
Then I pulled out a sheet of paper and began writing down numbers. I knew he could count to 20, but when he reached 40 without any trouble at all, my heart skipped a beat. 60, 70, 80, 90….and by 100 I was weeping. My 5 year old could easily count to 100 a beyond.
So, I pulled out another sheet of paper and began writing down simple 3 letter words. I showed him how to sound them out. And he grabbed that concept and ran with it. So we moved on to 4 letter words. 5 letter words. And while sounding them out was difficult, he understood the concept and kept trying to read simple books he loved.
Next we moved on to music. I showed him a simple scale on the piano, and he easily grasped the concept that keys correspond to letters and quickly understood how to find “A” anywhere on the piano.
I knew music would be easy. He loves drums and already has better rhythm than I do.
I called my sister later that day and asked her if she had any 1st grade workbooks left over, because I realized that he had already left Kindergarten in the dust. It was time to move on.
While we do plan to enroll our children in public school, our son wont begin school until 7 1/2. So I have two more years to work with him and four years to work with my youngest. The biggest challenge I face, however, is materials.
In an effort to not further confuse our children, I have began speaking to them exclusively in Croatian, and plan to use Croatian workbooks and materials I can adapt to Croatian. In addition to the Croatian workbooks I have acquired, I use GrapeVine Studies, printables from YearRound Homeschooling, and Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool and adjust the activities with my own creations like this:
So here is what a usual school day will look like:
1. Devotions / Bible class – using GrapeVine Studies (a review and giveaway are coming up next week)
2. Alphabet and number recitations
3. Phonics and writing – I will alternate the days we work on reading and writing
4. Science and Music
5. Math – alternating days when we practice writing numbers and simple addition
6. Coloring and Conversation – I wanted to make sure we took time to still practice speaking. But I also wanted to make time in our day to color in color books. This is so important for the brain.
7. Reading – This is a time when I read to them. They love books!
Two of the most important lessons I’ve learned in homeschooling my gifted child are:
1. Gifted children need a challenge. Their brains are constantly working and so it’s important to stay one step ahead of them.
2. Gifted children need to learn to decompress. Often along with giftedness comes a high sensitivity to stimulation and if they become too stimulated they have meltdowns. This year’s challenge is to work at keeping our home a peaceful haven for him, as I’ve learned to distinguish tantrums (rare) from meltdowns (often).
Incidentally, I am 98% certain my husband is a gifted father. He shows all the usual signs of giftedness. Sadly no one ever realized this to invest in his giftedness because no one was really talking about it back then. But there are times when I just sit back and admire his completely natural capabilities.