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The beauty of homeschooling is the ability to follow one's interests without the interruption of school bells, standardized learning, or time constraints.
In this issue of A Word from GHF, we learn about the many ways to forge friendships, take advantage of the freedom homeschooling affords, and create a educational path that inspires a love of life-long learning. Plus, our readers will receive a special discount from Diane Flynn Keith.
Thank you for reading A Word from GHF. If you have any questions or suggestions, please take the time to contact us!
Sarah J. Wilson
Video by Susanne Thomas (www.homeschooling-101susanne.blogspot.com)
We pulled our son from school a few months ago because he wasn’t challenged and the administrators just didn’t seem to want to help. My son had some friends, but those friendships have faded since we began homeschooling. Now my son is happy about being able to follow his own interests and work ahead, but he’s also lonely. Most of the homeschoolers in our area have chosen to homeschool for very different reasons, and we have not been able to find a group where we really fit in. How do I help him to find friends? Where else can we look?
Signed, Lonely in Louisiana
We’re glad to hear that your son’s intellectual needs are finally being met. That is so important to his well-being and self esteem. Finding friends is a very common concern for new homeschoolers, and sometimes for experienced homeschoolers, too. Try to keep in mind that even in school, there is no guarantee that he will always have a sure shelter—that is, the kind of friend he can share confidences with and always count on to be there for him. Moreover, wherever they are, gifted kids are more likely to be introverts and may be satisfied with just one or two close friends rather than playing with a large crowd. That’s not to say that lonely = good, but that you are not alone in your frustration.
In your search for friends for your son, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to age peers. Friends can be much older or much younger or close in age—it doesn’t matter. A friend is a friend. Shared interests are much more important. Does your son have a particular hobby or something he would like to learn more about? Perhaps finding a place to volunteer would be helpful, or maybe a club based around one of his interests. Check out 4H clubs or scouting groups or book clubs at the local library. Does your son take martial arts or skating lessons? Maybe he’d like to hike or program a computer or learn how to knit. If you can’t find an outlet for any of these activities, maybe you can create one. It only takes one or two other families to get a group started! GHF has a list of regional groups and contacts that may be able to help you. You may also find our online community beneficial.
You can also be unconventional and creative in finding intellectual peers. For asynchronous kids like ours who have high ability, but may not have equally advanced maturity, finding a place to fit can be a challenge. It may take some advocacy on your part to find the right environment. We know of parents who have sat in on college courses with their young children, and families who have volunteered together at an animal shelter or a science museum. Your kids may not fit into an extant role and you will have to convince the powers that be that you and your child can handle it. This won’t always be easy.
Many gifted homeschoolers find friendships via the (supervised) internet, or they meet their friends at gifted- or homeschool-specific conferences and events with their families. They also meet using online virtual courses like OnlineG3 or at summer programs like Yunasa or CTY. The kids then stay in touch using email, chat, Skype, and other social media. The technology available today can seem foreign to those of us who grew up in the Stone Age, but it’s a wonderful solution for kids who represent a small portion of the population or who live in more isolated communities.
Unfortunately, many highly and profoundly gifted kids won’t find the kinds of friendships they seek until college or even graduate school, but friendships don’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. It may be difficult to find even casual friendships, but they are out there. Don’t give up! Remember the old adage: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
For more information on gifted children and friendships, see Living with Gifted Children.
Please send in your questions to DearGHF@giftedhomeschoolers.org.
Dear GHF is answered by Corin Barsily Goodwin, Executive Director of GHF, and Mika Gustavson, LMFT.
I am always surprised when a parent asks, "Can I homeschool my gifted child?" I react the same way when a parent asks, "Can I homeschool my special needs child?" It seems there is an assumption that you can only homeschool "normal" kids.
In my experience, most parents decide to homeschool precisely because their children deviate from the norm and their needs can't be met in traditional school environments. Their children are the square pegs that don't fit in the round holes of standardized education.
I would venture a guess that fully two-thirds of the homeschool population is made up of children who are gifted and talented, and/or who have special needs.
Where else, but a homeschool, can you create an environment that totally supports the interests, needs, and abilities of any given child? You can create whatever you want. You don't have to slavishly adhere to schoolish curriculum; you can custom-tailor the natural rhythm and routine of your day to accommodate learning whenever and wherever it happens.
Homeschooling is empowering. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to learn in the style and with the resources that suit your child's unique gifts, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Your child can:
- Engage in self-directed learning.
- Move at their own pace without outside pressure to perform.
- Sample a variety of life's bounty in an open-source, free-range learning extravaganza.
The process of learning is what homeschooling is all about—magnificent quantities of time to wonder, engage, and reflect in order to figure out who you are, what you're good at, what you want to contribute, how to develop the skills you need to achieve your goals, and ultimately how to be happy. Homeschooling can be challenging—but the return on the investment is a sense of utter fulfillment and infinite joy from helping your child become the author and editor of his or her own life.
I started homeschooling my sons in 1992, and have been coaching and mentoring other home educators ever since. I provide free resources to help parents homeschool successfully including an e-newsletter called ClickSchooling that provides a daily web-based learning activity to over 22,000 families and educators worldwide. You can subscribe to it for free at http://www.ClickSchooling.com.
I also offer free monthly teleconferences that provide information and inspiration to homeschool parents. Corin Goodwin of GHF was a featured guest recently. The live teleconferences are free. We sell the audio recordings for $9.97 each. Members and friends of GHF can save $5.00 on the recordings by entering the coupon code "Homefires" when you place your order—and pay just $4.97! You can learn more and see the selection of titles at http://www.AudioHomeschool.com.
I believe learning takes place everywhere. My book, Carschooling, has over 350 entertaining games and activities to turn travel time into learning time. You can get my free "Carschooling Learning Calendar" each month with all kinds of suggestions for learning on the road every day at http://www.Carschooling.com.
I also offer fee-based programs, products, and events to support and encourage parents in the task of collaborating with their gifted, special needs, and normal kids to create extraordinary lives. Learn more at my websites, www.Homefires.com, www.UniversalPreschool.com, and www.UnschoolYourTeen.com.
Diane Flynn Keith
"Your Homeschool Coach and Mentor"
Editor, Author, Founder, Publisher
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My name is Alex Flury. I have a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Stanford University with a minor in computer science and two years of experience in website development at the Internet company Yahoo!. When I started working at Yahoo!, I was the only employee too young to attend corporate events at which alcohol was served. I was 19 when I graduated from Stanford, and am currently applying to begin a mathematics Ph.D. at age 22. People ask if I am a genius. Although I don't mind that question, my early graduation was mainly due to academic choices that I made given the educational options available, combined with my own educational ambitions. I think the choices I made worked very well for what I wanted to accomplish and would likely work well for others.
My only experience with homeschooling was in the fourth grade when I studied at home for one year. For the most part, I had the freedom to chose the educational activities that I preferred to do, which made it an enjoyable experience. I had always taken a particular interest in mathematics. I was working through my math textbook quickly that year, and I was ahead of my classmates in math before I returned to public school for fifth grade. I also began trying to teach myself to play the piano and subsequently began taking piano lessons. The activities that I discovered in the one year I spent in homeschool—in particular solving math problems and playing musical instruments—were activities and skills that I would enjoy and develop more and more for years to come. In this way, the short time I spent in homeschool had a profound impact on my life, for which I am very thankful.
I continued my junior high and high school education until my sophomore year of high school. At that point, my idea of a perfect day of school would have been a full day of math class. I also wanted to take classes in computer science, which was not taught at my school. Thus, I was eager to start attending a community college, where I would be able to chose my own classes and hopefully fill my schedule with math and computer science classes. I was able to graduate from Beach High School, which allowed me to start attending De Anza College at the age of fifteen. Because of my determination to learn mathematics, I immediately had a very positive experience in college. I started tutoring math during my first year. During the second year, I became president of the math club, outperforming the entire college in a math competition, and was essentially a TA for my math classes. As president of the math club, I was featured in an article of La Voz Weekly, De Anza's school newspaper. After my first two successful years of college, I was the only student from De Anza to transfer to Stanford in 2006, where I would complete my junior and senior years. Meanwhile, my peers from high school were just starting to apply to colleges as freshmen.
Two good questions I am asked about my education are (a) what is your hurry, and (b) would you make the same choice? My answer is that I'm not hurrying. There is nothing in particular that I was rushing to finish by skipping two years of high school; it was simply the most direct route to quickly learning as much mathematics as possible and didn't want to wait longer than necessary. Although the other students at the college were older than I was by a few years, I had a strong sense of confidence derived from my command of mathematics, so I believe the social effect of early college was not adverse in my case.
As for the second question, I would definitely make the same choice. I am happy with the educational path I have taken, and grateful that it has been flexible enough to become what I wanted it to be.
Come see GHF Board members and Special Advisors live at one of these upcoming events.
Las Madres Educational Fair
January 22nd 2011, 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Mika Gustavson, MFT
Giftedness and Educational Choices
California Association for the Gifted (CAG) Conference
February 25 - 27, 2011
Mika Gustavson, MFT
Homeschooling’s Social and Emotional Rewards
Search for the Missing Manual: Decoding your Complex Child
It Takes a Gifted Village: Creating Connections (Presenting with Kathleen Crombie)
For up-to-date event listings, please go to the GHF Events page.
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January 2011 • Volume 1 • Issue 4