Outside The Box Homeschooling

A site to help moms teach their "outside the box" kids.

Homeschooling Sis

I have touched a bit on the challenges homeschooling Sweet Pea. Sis is a challenge all her own. With her, she falls more into a philosophy I hold in teaching any gifted or accelerated child. My philosophy comes from being one of them, and growing up educated in a private school, followed by a public gifted and accelerated program. I hope I can explain my opinion in a manner that is accepted in the way it is intended.

My experience in education was mostly positive, but I have developed some philosophies that are probably not the norm. I have also personally watched and experienced some of the psychological problems that can be overlooked in this group of kids. They look perfect on the outside. Their grades are usually perfect. They are gifted musicians, ASB officers, varsity members of sports teams, volunteer at multiple organizations, etc., etc., etc., and are grabbed at and pulled from every direction. Gifted children put expectations on themselves that are unreasonable, so they don’t need to be pushed and pulled on by everyone who wants a piece of them. I was nicknamed “The All American Kid” by a teacher in highschool. I was a class officer, varsity cheerleader, played softball, took AP classes before they were the norm, held down a job, and participated in church youth group activities. I graduated from highschool in the top 10% of Washington graduates. I also felt that I never measured up to expectations put on me by other people.

So how does this transfer to Sis? I want to provide her with opportunities, but I am very careful to not overschedule her and protect her from everyone who wants a piece of her. I am determined to allow her to experience childhood. It is a bit difficult to educate her alongside a child who struggles and compares herself as not measuring up to her sister. Part of this is Sis’ drive and desire to learn. She pushes herself. She doesn’t need me to push her. Sis works incredibly hard for what she accomplishes. Right now I am focussing mostly on character qualities. We have talked privately about how proud I am of her. I have been very pleased to see the compassion she has developed towards her sister. She used to have a need to show her superiority in everything. Somehow, she has finally figured out that she will always beat her sister at pretty much everything. There is no longer a need for her to let her sister know this fact. After her last accomplishment, I took her out to a special lunch where she and I celebrated. Her sister was on a date with Grandma. This worked well. I am really proud of her as she has joined us is making a huge deal out of Sweet Pea’s successes. Sis understands that we aren’t overlooking the fact that she makes those same accomplishment everyday.

Along with her compassion she has developed for her sister, I am seeing it transfer to her friends. She has her best friend, with whom it is okay to compete. Both are on a similar level and are competitive. This gives her an outlet for her competitive personality. She is not allowed to compete with the other children or compare scores. With her other friends, we encourage her to just have fun being friends and doing kid stuff. What other interests do they have in common? We try to focus on these. They don’t need her to tell them about her academic accomplishments. Our goal is to focus on lifting them up and congratulating them on their accomplishments. Focus on being a good friend. Sis’ test scores are so high, my focus has turned a bit from academic achievement to learning how to be a good person and learning life skills. She can lose quite a few percentage points on a standardized exam and be just fine.

Don’t get me wrong, she is expected to put out work at an expected level, but it is not our focus. We are focussing on being a kid, learning things she is interested in, and being a solid, well-rounded kid. I think we are accomplishing it. It is my goal and prayer for her life. Sis is smart enough to be anything she wants to be, but character is not something a multiple choice test can evaluate. I also want her to go into adulthood knowing how to do things, not just pass a test.

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