“Is your child gifted?”
I hate that question. It drives me crazy to read about schools that offer gifted learning programs. Actually I hate labels period. As far as I am concerned, ALL children are gifted. They each just have DIFFERENT gifts. Many times we just don’t understand their gifts. Far too often, their gifts go completely undiscovered and unappreciated. There are many adults who feel they had special gifts as children that were unrecognized. This is so true. After all, IQ tests can’t possibly measure all God’s given talents completely.
Home schooling a gifted child who learns easily may sound like a simple thing. Perfect, in fact. You would think would be an ideal situation. You give them their work, they do it, every body is happy. But is it really this easy? These “gifted” children are often continually bored, may be unsocial, they may already know the answer to every question and can be difficult to teach. They can also be stubborn perfectionists, very athletic, and or very musical. Their talents may lie in only one area and they may also be completely afraid to try new or different things for fear of failure. These children can be very difficult to engage and challenge, much less keeping them busy all day long at home without driving every one else in the house completely crazy. Perhaps this is why we decide to home school them rather than leave them in the public school.
Traditional schools define gifted children as being above average in one or more areas of their development. Oddly enough, many of us THINK we have gifted children, but they really may not be. Sometimes it’s really a kind of parental pride. “Of course my child is gifted, he is MY child!” We all want what is best for our kids, especially when it comes to their education. But some kids just learn faster than others, so we consider them gifted.
Many times “gifted children” are auditory-sequential learners. They learn best by hearing things. Our son amazed us at his ability to listen and follow directions from a very young age. We could explain how to do something once and he could do it and remember it, even as a toddler. (This is very much unlike our dyslexic children who needed constant repetition and discipline to master a task.) Alex was an easy child in this way. I don’t ever remember telling him “don’t touch that!” more than once. It was obvious he was an auditory learner right from the start.
As a thrilled new home schooling Mom-teacher, I diligently bought curriculum after curriculum, and we flew through it all for many years. However, over time it has become apparent to us that just because a child learns easily, does not mean he will always retain what he has learned. Long term memory has become a different issue, one that perhaps isn’t talked about much.
For example, our son had studied mathematical fractions for months and months in grammar school, but when the subject came up again in high school he has had trouble remembering them. Interesting, considering he knew them inside out and backwards several years before. Isn’t this why we revisit subjects until we master them? Yes, it is. However, it is very different for children who have different learning styles.
In contrast, our dyslexic children often struggle to learn a concept for months or years at a time. We try different curriculum, different learning methods, over and over before they finally succeed. We may revisit the same concept year after year with little or no progress, but once they learn it, they never forget it. So who is really easier to teach?
Auditory learners obviously do well with auditory concepts. But believe it or not reading to themselves can be challenging and may not the best way for them to learn. Reading to themselves out loud, however, is a different story. Better yet, have them read to a younger sibling. Listening to fictional books on tape or CD are also great options, but there are others.
Here are just a few of the resources we have used over time:
Audio-books: Fiction are easy to find, but you can also find audio-text books and bibles on tape, CD, or in MP3 formats. Check out library book sales, book stores, and garage sales for great deals.
Kindle Audio Books: Very cost effective to download, but not all Kindle devices have an audio function.
Smart Phone Audio Books: Who knew my Droid could do this? Our entire family listened to Sherlock Holmes on a car trip with the aid of a simple adapter for the car stereo system.
Library Websites: Ours has many audio books available to check out and download to your PC or portable device.
Foreign Language Programs: Great for your auditory learner, they will learn so fast!
Music: Learning an instrument is a must for the student who learns by listening. Also includes visual learning and kinetic movement, what a multi-sensory approach!
Video: A simple choice, the visuals are a bonus!
Paperback Swap: Check out www.paperbackswap.com. You can exchange audio books, Cd’s and of course regular books for FREE. A great resource!
Here are some of our favorite curriculum’s:
Presidential Rap: Great CD for memorizing the Presidents and information about them.
History Songs by Veritas Press
Latin for Children Audio Cd’s: We used to listen to these while driving around in the car. I don’t think we ever cracked open a work book, they Cd’s were so much fun!
Jim Weiss Cd’s: A master story teller, Jim Weiss has made dozens of classic books into enjoyable Cd’s for children. Great for road trips in the car.
Geography Songs: Loved these, I think our kids learned to sing these long before they could read or even knew where the states were!
There are probably many, many, more out there. Enjoy listening! I love to tell my kids that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you learn. We all end up in the same place eventually. Comparing abilities or labeling them doesn’t help anyone. We all have unique God given gifts. It may be in math or science, art or music, compassion and integrity, or hope and joy. But in the end, we all end up just the way God intended for us to be, with gifts that He gave us.
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