My good friend Marg Frauenstein is a teacher who decided to homeschool her two delightful gifted children – until life got in the way. Many people considering homeschooling worry that once they have begun, there may be no way out. Marg writes from Kirwee in Canterbury, sharing her family’s experience of homeschooled children entering mainstream education.
Transitioning from home to the school environment is a big ask at five, but the world (and more importantly, the school) is set up for that. It seems like yesterday that we were training our kids to say, “I’m at home and I do school at home.” But it wasn’t yesterday.
Our two children, both gifted in different ways, were at home for their education for ten or so years. Our oldest child, our son, started school at 14 1/2yrs and our daughter had three weeks at school prior to turning 13. It was a difficult time in the family with ill health meaning I had a month long stint in hospital, and all were a bit stressed. Both took to school with a curious attitude and a willing heart. Many comments came home about their attitude and their learning habits, which thrilled my home-ed Mum’s heart.
That was 18 months ago and I am intrigued just how much these gifted pupils notice, analyse and decipher their world and will unfold to a careful listener…
Comments such as, “I haven’t actually learned anything for so long now.”
“I’m glad I’m sick. I can read something stimulating and edifying today.”
“I think I helped someone today, helped them learn something that I just knew.”
“I think my teacher understood me today.”
and when school was closed for two weeks because of the February earthquake, “Time to think, uninterrupted – what bliss!”
School has been fabulous on so many levels and continues to be the blessing our family needed and both my husband and I are glad that they are there. I ask myself just how many of these adjustments are due to the children having been homeschooled all their lives and how many are because they have a barrage of different teachers with whom to work and a series of different standards in work and behavioural areas, or is that the same question?
Being gifted at this age and entering school for the first time has meant that both children have had the advantage of knowing that it is acceptable to think differently to others, to see the world through a slightly different lens and to know that there are many, many options beyond the school yard. Also, up until then, they had only had gifted peers in their day-to-day learning environment.
For one child, this had meant throwing herself into all the social and leadership activities with abandon because the academic work is easily managed. For the other child, opportunities to use his spatial gifting in both Graphics and Computer Science have been both stimulating, by giving him the correct tools and structure, and stifling as time and peer constraints have slowed his ‘speed of thinking’ and hindered his natural curiosity and his interest in taking one line of thinking to its conclusion, or the conclusion that satisfied him. Managing all of these issues have been great life skills. The point of difference is that at home, in the learning at home environment, there was time to dream, to doodle, to engage in maths all day, to ski all day if the weather was good, to stop and learn from watching a calf birthing, and all the learning that flows from situational encounters. I still think this tends to bring favour to how the gifted learner thinks about the manner of their learning. Finding their own learning styles has helped both of our children become more effective in their scholarliness.
In some classes poor work habits have developed as a child has ‘waited’ for the class to catch up with his thinking; as a parent this concerned me, but I am confident that the basic learning habits and interests will re-establish fairly rapidly when needed, maybe at a tertiary level, probably because he has had many years of self-monitored learning behind him already. Our basic premise for starting education at home was tied up with how the children would think of their own learning and their own giftedness and I think a somewhat longish delayed start to school has had many benefits.
This photo, by Flickr member Crashmaster007 (who perhaps shouldn’t be that close to traffic given his screen name) has attribution and non-commercial licenses.