Why you should homeschool gifted kids

Now that I have a kid who is really talented, I can see what not really talented looks like.

For example, his skateboard teacher tells me he’s great. But I think to myself, well, is he one of the best in the country for his age right now? Probably no. I see the 12-year-old who just landed a 1080. My son is not on track for that, I don’t think. And also, I took him to skate in Los Angeles, and I have to say that no one stopped us to tell us how blown away they were with his skating. (Wondering if you have a kid who is talented in sports? You can study the process of identifying sports talent here.)

This is what happens with cello, though. Almost every teacher who sees him tells me he’s special. He is constantly thinking in terms of cello music. He practices on his own. He tells me he wants to be Yo Yo Ma. He asks about Yo Yo Ma’s path, to make sure he’s on it. He does not need me to teach him. He is way past my ability to learn to play the cello. He will do anything the teacher tells him because he trusts her. He has had ten teachers, literally, to find this one, and he knows she’s special.

And he’s six.

I read that most scientists who discover something big know they will be scientists by age seven.

And I can see, in my own life, that I was enthralled with sports from an early age, always wanting to be great at them, always looking for a way to stand out.

In the academic (and therefore unavailable to you) article titled Beyond Bloom, the authors say that most people who have great talent identify it by age seven. This rings true to me. And the authors say that talent development is largely a product of what the parents provide. The lessons, the equipment, the time, that all happens outside of the school system.

I can see that in my own life. I played professional beach volleyball because that was the sport that was open to me after I missed all the sports that required my parents to help me. This was the place I could rise to the top in sports. I probably could have played indoor volleyball, or basketball, or other you-need-to-be-big-and-tall sports, if my parents had been the talent development types. But they were not.

The other thing the academic research shows is that most Nobel Laureates were students of previous Nobel Laureates. Extremely talented people sniff out the extremely talented in order to carry on their legacy.

Which is to say, there are three stages of talent development. According to psychologist Rena Subotnik, these are: The early stage, where the child self-identifies; the middle stage, where the parents teach the kid how to practice and learn the skill in a disciplined way; and the performance stage, where the talented individual discovers something new.

The really interesting thing to me about all this is that it happens outside of school. Because school is geared toward well-roundedness and also learning what the school can teach. The school is not set up to give an individualized learning plan to the exceptional students. If nothing else, we can’t afford that, as a nation, (which is why it is policy for most public school systems to only award costly individualized learning plans to special needs kids who sue the school district. It would be too costly to award these plans proactively.)

There is not a lot of data to show that gifted kids do better in life by being forced to score well in a wide range of tests. Gifted kids can get by on good social skills and their gifts. We have no evidence that school teaches good social skills — believe me, if school could do that, we’d have a cure for autism. But we do have evidence that being out of school can promote gifted kids fulfilling their potential. And that is probably what gifted kids need most in order to find success in their world.

49 replies
  1. Bec Oakley
    Bec Oakley says:

    >Gifted kids can get by on good social skills and their gifts.<

    Do you think it's also true that the more talented you are, the less social skills matter? It seems to me that people are quick to forgive the social faux pas of those that are gifted, or perhaps write them off as 'delightful quirks'.

    It's something I've been thinking about because my son is gifted yet also autistic. I found this post really interesting… how do I foster the giftedness in my son who lacks self-awareness of his own gifts?

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      “Do you think it’s also true that the more talented you are, the less social skills matter?”

      I wouldn’t frame it this way.
      I recently saw and read a commencement address given by Neil Gaiman at The University of The Arts in Philadelphia ( http://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address ). I thought it was one of the best commencement addresses with a lot of good life advice.
      The paragraph of his address that I think applies to your question is the following –
      “People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”
      So to repeat and frame it in a better way – “And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.”

  2. Tracey Mansted
    Tracey Mansted says:

    Have a Highly Gifted kid?
    Chances are you WILL homeschool because hardly any school can cater for their mental speed, over-excitabilities, that hunger for new and interesting.
    Gifted was the reason we left normal “school” and ended up with an education that is tailored for our 2 girls, as discussed here…
    An education that fits in loads of music, and time outside, and French, and making art, hands on science, and doing drama etc because it is fun to do.
    That is what I think a well-rounded gifted program should look like – one that empowers the child to truly explore and find their “special talent”. Then dig in deeper.
    Schools stink at that, in my experience.

  3. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Maybe I was gifted, compared to my peers. What I KNOW was that art was my best subject. It intrigued and frustrated me. I signed up every year of high school (and two out of three years of middle school–which was all I was allowed).

    I would have spent half of each day in that room.

    My art teacher–the same man from 7th – 11th grade–insisted I pursue art in a private college.

    I didn’t. It seemed impractical. It was The Subject in which I was set apart, but the indoctrination of being well-rounded had solidified.

    I approached college thinking of how to get a job –not of how to expand my talent.

    • Pirate Jo
      Pirate Jo says:

      Do you practice or study art now?

      I’m just asking, because it kind of sounds like you regret the approach you took – focusing on using college to get a job – yet your approach makes sense to me.

      When you are 18, you have your entire life ahead of you to pursue your passions, but one month to get out from under your parents’ roof before somebody ends up dead. I was focused on financial independence at that age to the exclusion of everything else. I had no idea what I wanted to be at that age beyond “employed” and “living under my own roof.” So I got a degree in accounting, seeing it as an employable degree that I could use to get a job, and it didn’t mean I had to be an accountant forever.

      In my time outside of work I pursue the things I am interested in, and I didn’t even know what some of those things were until I was in my 30s. I doubt I will ever get paid to do them, though.

  4. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Ugh, all the research that talks about kids before age 7 makes me anxious. How to reconcile child-directed learning with introducing enough things pre-age-7 to discover if you have a budding genius in a particular specialty?

    My conclusion after reading this post is that my son is probably not gifted, or that I’ve been an inadequate parent in not finding his talent. :(

    • Mark K
      Mark K says:

      Every child is gifted. A handful are gifted in ways that are so one-dimensional or monochromatic that we can even see them very early on. Most are not that way. It takes decades to discover-develop gifts that are complex and unique–so unique that no human has ever possessed them in quite that combination.

      There is no reconciliation needed. Let your seven year old be seven years old. Relax. And Enjoy.

      Every day now is full of memories that will be lifelong treasures. Don’t let anxieties eclipse them.

    • Lori
      Lori says:

      don’t feel anxious. most disciplines grow from basic building blocks. you can’t introduce children to every possible specialty by the age of seven, especially given that some careers that will be available to them don’t even exist yet. it’s more important to introduce them to a variety of ways of thinking and expressing themselves. help them have a variety of experiences. help them learn to focus on something. help them discover and explore their core competencies. they’ll work the rest out down the road.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      I am of the opinion that every child is gifted AND has multiple gifts. The chosen gift which is pursued by the child and encouraged by other people is mostly influenced by the parents and the living/learning environment of the child.

      • CJ
        CJ says:

        Wish I could add “likes” to both Marks’ and Lori’s, Colleen! All children are gifted and his gift/s will show up organically. You are already giving him the love and attention (the water and the fertilizer).

  5. Lori
    Lori says:

    there seems to be a fourth stage, the stage between parents and performance, when the young person is mentored.

  6. CJ
    CJ says:

    For our family there is no greater crime committed by the public and private school systems than the mass squelching of childrens’ gifts and differences. Public schools convince parents their children aren’t the special, amazing beings that they all are. The gifts are relentlessly smothered and parents become conditioned to distrust themselves and their children. We visited a couple of prominent schools for the gifted only to find fundraising and continual iq testing in the possible future. This sealed the unschool path for us then.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I agree about the schools for gifted. I have found they are relentlessly focused on IQ and testing. I think this probably changes when the kids are in high school, where there are schools for things like performing arts (NYC has a great one) or music (Julliard) or fine art (Chicago’s Art Institute School) where kids don’t need to test high on book-learning IQ to get in.


      • CJ
        CJ says:

        YES!! So true. My son was tested before he was three. IQ exceptionally high, I got talked into it as the pediatrician said it would help us decide where to place him. And I was really beginning to learn educational history for myself. then later in his only public school year, they wanted us to test him because of teacher rec. long story short, we decided to go ahead because she was convinced he is autistic. He isn’t. Team from Yale backed that up. They said he has a few borderline Aspie like characteristics, but cannot be classified. Which pretty much describes my high iq husband that loves your work, btw. Anyhow, And, then the school brought us before this big panel to say, “you won’t believe this but he is a real genius.” DUH.

        then they explained that they really couldn’t meet his needs but that we should leave him there to “be with friends.” say what now?

        During and later, visiting private and gifted schools. When the last admissions director explained the “re-evaluations schedule” plan over the school years, I couldn’t keep mum any longer. I asked, “in your experience, do children lose or gain intelligence while in your program?” he was NOT amused. I apologized and said I was finished with making my happy brainiac perform like a monkey for panels. I am still mad at myself for letting it go so far. I can see the same high intelligence in my daughter, although she is really the artist. I have told them both, the next time they take some giant test or perform for a panel, etc, that it will be when they want something and it is required.

        Mean time, my son hopes to go to “Ferrari engine building school” and my 6 yo daughter hopes there’s an art school that designs “only fairy princess dresses and jewelry” so she can submit her drawings…FIT, maybe??? ;-)

        (Oh how I dreamed of Julliard as a child in NY)

        • MoniqueWS
          MoniqueWS says:

          http://www.davidsongifted.org/ The Davidson Institute for Profoundly Gifted can and will help you as a parent get the services your gifted child needs. Check them out! Our family has not needed theor services but a good friend’s family did. DI worked wonders for this family and children!!

          • CJ
            CJ says:

            That was so very sweet of you to take the time to write this Monique! Thanks so so much! I have called them and visit the site regularly. A few years ago I read Genius Denied, and it really opened my eyes and nurtured my heart when I was cycling through our options and felt torn between varrying advice. I discovered John Holt work after that, then Gatto. My husband and I will say to each other, if our son starts building a fission project in the basement, we are moving to Nevada, lol (did you se the recent story on the news, 14 year old boy now has his own lab at Davidson- he was doing nuclear projects in the garage- imagine those parents!! ;-)

            Really, thank you!!!

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    “The school is not set up to give an individualized learning plan to the exceptional students. If nothing else, we can’t afford that, as a nation, (which is why it is policy for most public school systems to only award costly individualized learning plans to special needs kids who *SUE* the school district. It would be too costly to award these plans proactively.)”

    You may want to vote for Mitt Romney after reading this article in The Atlantic – http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/our-special-ed-system-favors-the-rich-and-romney-has-a-plan-to-fix-it/257949/ – which starts with “Last week, Mitt Romney released a white paper detailing his (current) positions on education policy. One of its prominent features was a proposal to make federal funds allocated for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) portable so that special-needs students can choose which school to attend and bring the federal funding along with them.” It’s written by a guest poster (Dr. Manhattan, a lawyer in New York City who represents, among others, clients in the investment management industry) who has a severely autistic son.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is sort of off-topic, but I’m passionate about it, so I’m commenting. Once a really good IEP is written and signed by a school district, the cost of enforcing it is through the roof. No amount reasonable of Federal funding can support the IEPs that autistic kids should have. It’s just too expensive. I say this as a parent who has had this very type of IEP.

      So what Romney’s legislation will do is make a bigger mess than we already have. It will lead to one of two scenarios:

      1. An expensive IEP is not being enforced in one district so the parents will move, but the next district will then be saddled with paying for an IEP they never would have approved because it’s too expensive. Districts can say, “I”ll sign this amazing IEP as long as you take it to a richer district to implement.”

      2. The problem with IEPs is that they are unenforceable without an expensive legal team. So it doesn’t matter that you can bring your IEP and it’s Federal funding to any school district. The district will take the money and do whatever they want with it and you have no recourse if you can’t hire a legal team, and if you have the money for that legal team you should just pay for everything privately and not even deal with Federal funding.


      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Thanks for sharing your experiences with IEP.
        I neglected and should have included the following from the linked article – “Clearly, the Romney proposal is — like most campaign proposals — many details shy of workable policy. But if the details are fleshed out right, it at least has to the potential to actually reduce a massive inequality — far more so than, say, the “Buffett Rule.”. That’s a big IF. However, I think we should bring issues like this out into the light and discuss them … as you do on your blog posts. :)

  8. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    This post clicked for me…and I don’t usually say that. So you know I mean what I say, and this post spoke to me.

    When I was 5 yrs old my parents put me in dance and piano classes. Piano was a bust, but my dance teachers all said I had a gift and I should never stop dancing, that I should follow through with it as far as it will take me, that I was special, different from the other dancers.

    My school and dance teacher relocated an hour away from home, and my mom said it was too far, that I had to pick another school. It sucked. I never found a decent teacher near home and I got discouraged. My father told me I would never be able to support myself as a dancer, that it was a hard life and slim chance for success and I gave it up.

    Supporting myself became the focus, not my talents, so I became a court reporter.

    I don’t regret it because I love what I do, but I think I love what I do because of who I am. I’m just a passionate person, which means I probably could have succeeded either way.

    Parents need to believe in their children, have faith in your children and their abilities. The problem is most parents don’t believe in themselves. They never had faith in themselves, so they’re incapable of passing on anything else, but fear.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh my gosh. Carmen you’re right! The amount of faith a parent has in the child seems so closely related to the amount of faith the parent has in him or herself.


    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Not everyone has to earn money from what they are most talented at doing. Think of all the amazing stay-at-home moms. The ones that were born to do it. They don’t get paid.

      The closer you are to the very top, the more likely it is that you will be able to get paid for what you are most talented at doing. But it’s clear to me that so much of this depends on having parents help you, early on, focus on that talent, so that when it comes time to earn money you are already at the top of your field.

      Most school teaches people to be generalists. Which means that when people become adults and have to earn money, they are not sufficiently trained in the thing they love to make money at it.

      So for most people, the career advice “do what you love” is too late. They already went to school to be generalists.


      • Mark K
        Mark K says:

        It may be so that classical musicians or dancers or professional sport players, along with many other people of talent are too far behind if they don’t really get going until adulthood.

        But there are many different kinds of brilliance. Buckminster Fuller is just one example that springs to mind. Here’s where he was in life, at age 32 (from wikipedia):

        “By age 32, Fuller was bankrupt and jobless, living in public, low-income housing in Chicago, Illinois. In 1922,[3] Fuller’s young daughter Alexandra died from complications from polio and spinal meningitis. Allegedly, he felt responsible and this caused him to drink frequently and to contemplate suicide for a while. He finally chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

        He ended up being no slouch. There are senses in which humanity has not even caught up to how far he leapt ahead in his mind. Something true of many historical geniuses by the way.

        I believe it is a mistake to say that all people, with all talents, and all dreams and passions must follow those passions early, or it’s too late. For some that may well be true. For many, I would say the vast majority, it is only too late if you think it is too late.

  9. Julianna
    Julianna says:

    If you’re especially gifted in one specific area, there’s no way a public school can or should cater to that. But then again, plenty of pro athletes went to school. Most probably.

    If you move to a rural community, you’ll have nest to no options, that’s for sure. I can only talk about my community and here I can say Penelope is wrong.

    In NYC, the policy is NOT to award IEP to kids who sue. That’s just not right. Most public schools will have a CTT class in every grade. If you look up stats on any public school, you will find % of kids with IEPs. Will be 10-25% typically. Some schools cater to these kids. In my neighborhood alone there’s The Children’s School which is all CTT (40% kids with IEP) and PS 32 with the NEST program for autistic kids. In today’s NY Times is an interesting article about how much (too much) New York spends on special ed pre-k classes alone. Billion with a B.


    This is not even mentioning the gifted programs. Too many really. It needs an overhaul.

    There is so much wrong with the NY DOE, but there is so much right. For your kid, the Special Music School would have been great. Starts in K, non-zoned, public, no IQ test.

    For Bec, I have a friend with a son who is twice exceptional/2e (academically gifted with aspegers in his case,) and he attends the Lang School. It’s great, it’s private, it’s expensive and they got it fully reimbursed thru the NYC DOE and Connors. Started by two moms.

    Tracey, my kids’ school is dual language with strings program and science lab every day.

    I want our schools to improve, of course. But to do that we have to be honest about where we are. Bad is so many areas, but maybe not in all you say.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      Agreed on gifted overhaul. Where we were in WA state, the gifted coursework wouldn’t start until 4th grade and is based on age, yet our son was last evaluated at late 5th-early 6th grade math level and his reading they said he was “beyond 5th” while the specialist said he was high school level. He was 7. Here, back again in the NE, our district has gotten rid of the gifted programs altogether (the schools go up to 5th). There are magnets but they are still sorted by age and age only. Just one of many reasons I am against age segregated sorting and learning.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          It’s hard too, because as I am stunned by those numbers as well. I have met parents that train their kids to take the tests. One mom in LA had her children tested at a handful of places/doctors to get her child to keep increasing her score to gain acceptance into a gifted school in SoCal. This was before I had my own, but she was convinced that building her testing skills was her duty as a mom. she was proud that each testing the scores went up. I love NY and NYC. And I am competitive in nature. But, it scares and saddens me that all these kids are being pushed and pulled and judged on grades and test scores. Thank you for sharing that info! Wowzers!

  10. Kimberly Rotter
    Kimberly Rotter says:

    How do you figure out, then, during those early years, what activities to encourage in hopes of finding the one your child excels at? Did you choose skateboarding and cello or did he? Do I just let my child do a little bit of everything? Or do I pick a couple of activities to focus on and see if one takes off?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I tried tons of activities, which, of course, you can do if you don’t put your kids in school. But also, I’ve been keenly aware of my kids Myers Briggs scores. You can’t make an ENTJ a ballerina.


      • Sticky Rammel
        Sticky Rammel says:

        Your kids are fairly young. Just curious how young can a kid be and accurately take a Myers Briggs test? Seems very helpful, but it must be ideal to have them take it as soon as they possibly can?

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          It’s generally accepted that the test score is solid by high school. I think if you spend a lot of time with your kids, you can get a pretty good idea of their score. There are some parts that are much less likely to change than others.


  11. Greg
    Greg says:

    The Penelope Trunk 3-step curriculum:

    1. Do the Myers Briggs test
    2. Focus on three activities that are compatible with the MB type
    3. Become great in one of these activities

    I think I would have enjoyed that curriculum growing up. Assuming I got to pick the activities.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      You know what? I think you’re right. This is my thinking about what I should be doing.

      In all the research I’ve been seeing as I do this homeschool adventure, the research that has most shocked me is how wide agreement is that well roundedness is useless. I did not expect that. Though I like that it’s compatible with my personal proclivities.


      • CJ
        CJ says:

        Awwwwwwsome!! Mz. Trunk, ahhhh you keep us guessing sometimes…this answers one of my Qs from another day, too. ;-)

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        “… the research that has most shocked me is how wide agreement is that well roundedness is useless.”

        I found this short book review article ( http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/113554/press-release-strengths-based-leadership.aspx ) on the book ‘Strengths Based Leadership’ and other sources support your argument.
        Good leaders know their strengths and delegate. Well roundedness would make a leader less effective/efficient. So I’m saying that you can say well roundedness is useless but it’s necessary to give that statement some context and guidelines.

  12. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    “He asks about Yo Yo Ma’s path, to make sure he’s on it.”

    I read the following from Yo-Yo Ma’s web site – “Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and soon came with his family to New York, where he spent most of his formative years. Later, his principal teacher was Leonard Rose at The Juilliard School. He sought out a traditional liberal arts education to expand upon his conservatory training, graduating from Harvard University in 1976.” and “In Silk Road Connect, visual and aural elements are used alongside the experiences of creating and collaborating, making direct connections to classroom work in subjects such as Social Studies, English Language Arts, the sciences and the arts.”

    So here’s something counter-intuitive that may work for some people – specialize and then generalize for your career. What’s funny is that everyone is on different paths … some intersect more than others.

  13. redrock
    redrock says:

    As far as I know many great musicians have a very broad liberal arts background – most of them feel it develops their ability to express their music far beyond the mere technical questions.

    I don’t quite understand the fixation on the MB, it is a very useful tool, and it helps one to learn about strengths and weaknesses. But when the MB relates to professions and what you can do well it is at best a guideline, food for thought. Can it (and was it intended) to be used as the basis for life decisions early and late in life? Does the MB define us or should we maybe just use it as a tenuous guide and not as something to rule our decisions? We all occupy one spot in the (I think it was 16?) personality roster and this is often correlated with a preference for a certain profession, but it is only a preference and far from 100%.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      I am sure there are a thousand opinions on its usefulness for deciding future professions. I just wanted to comment that for some it is most useful on understanding and explaining and it is so much more than strengths and weakness. One ex: Our son does these sort of “college for kids” classes run often by social workers or professionals in the field of the class, like design, computers, etc. he finished a video game programming course and at the end the social worker gives the parents some standard feedback. Social worker says to my husband, how our son is just wonderful, BUT only one BIG critique, he really needs to work on eye contact and engagement. My husband said, thanks, he doesn’t need that at this young age just yet. SW, Yes it will really help him later. H, Yes, much later. We dont want him to be self concerned about this too young. SW, But you see how you and I are engaged looking into each others eyes? H, Yes, but truth is, I hate it and I don’t want to. SW, stunned: You don’t? Why? You are very present when you speak? H, Yes, because I have been conditioned to look this way in the professional world. I don’t want to be standing here honestly. SW, But you are so calm and engaging whenever we have spoken? H, calm? No all ten of my toes are wiggling inside my shoes and I am forcing myself to stand still, to look at you eye to eye when really I want to retreat. SW, Why? H, Ok, the truth is, you know MB? I am a really strong I !!!

      SW, (smiling) Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!! That makes perfect sense. H, giggling says: I only confessed because you are a social worker. They laughed, shook hands. Short hand conversation done.

      SW understood right away, my son is a lot like his Dad.

      As a mommy, I wish every explanation could go so simple, so fast and with such united understanding at the end.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        in a way I would see this as an example of the failure of the social worker to recognize differences in communication between people. But for the social worker it seems easier to accept those because they were verified and classified by a test. I think the MB is a useful tool, but as much as school test scores do not tell the story of the person, the MB does not capture our whole being. So, as guidance and food for thought: yes, but the danger is to say: oh, you are an MB whatever! I know what you should become as a professional and this other profession is not for you because of your MB score.

        • CJ
          CJ says:

          On the SW, nah, he is a lovely man. At the time I believed he was being sensitive and trying to figure out if our son is autistic, without directly asking. The facilitators like him are there because they love kids and they love the course, in this case programming. And for my son it is a bonafide playdate getting to game program with much older kids. And the compensation is nil. On the MB and whole person, I very much agree with you. But, I never tested until just recently for geewiz. I have always known that I was not meant for the corporate grind or big business though. The idea of an office building and cubicles- for me that would be slow death. Yet, my husbands career has been helped immensely by MB. I totally get your danger concern and i am not crazy about pigeon holing, but i do think PT has some good points because I know a lot more people that are doing jobs they hate because they never found out who they were as people when they were younger. And now they feel stuck- stuck in career for the money but job they hate, marriage or second or third marriage they hate, kids they wish they didn’t have or the flip, wishing for kids they don’t have. I am all for recognizing your self and some people need more tools to discover this.

          course, I come to PT for the homeschooling discussion, not the career side, so please note my bias is as a mother. I don’t know what I would think if I was young, single, etc. and thinking newly on a career life.

  14. Katy
    Katy says:

    I wanted to add: my husband was a Chinese immigrant. Back in China he said in elementary level, the children were put into various sports, looking for the next olympic team. They weeded the children out this way, until finally they got assigned to the sport they excelled in, and then continued on the state-run olympic path.
    He was placed on the volleyball path, and then they moved to the US and that fell apart. He still plays volleyball to this day though.

    Not sure how this is relevant but thought it was an interesting approach. not that I really want more government involvement in anything, however :/

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’ve known about this for a while. I’ve always been fascinated that if you’re trained you can see if a kid is right for what you’re choosing.

      This is true in NYC schools. Some people say its outrageous that teachers are selecting and rejecting three-year-olds. But its becoming clear to me the teachers really are great at selecting for kids who will be academically gifted in school.

      Its the American way to say the Chinese syatem is ippressive. But i think its a gift to the kids that get guidence.


  15. Ron
    Ron says:

    I am wondering what you think about the Moore’s formula for homeschool success. I imagine that you are familiar with the Moores- early homeschool pioneers. Raymond and Dorothy Moore wrote “Better Late than Early”, advocating starting formal education much later, like 10 or 12 years old. They also wrote “The Successful Homeschooling Family Handbook” about their formula of work+ study+ service for homeschooling success.

    Please comment or write a post about the Moore’s approach please.

  16. Rachelle
    Rachelle says:

    I am gifted, my husband is profoundly gifted and our son is also profoundly gifted. It’s not really that big of a deal. What it means is that we have a talent for regurgitating what the tests would like to see. It is a handy talent for certain specific tasks but for the most part it’s not as useful as most people would think. I have a talent for spotting anomalies in lots of data. Problem is it just looks wrong I need to go on a search to see why it looks wrong so that my conclusion is palatable to others. Being gifted is great for playing trivial pursuit though.

    I would compare being gifted to being really tall. Handy when you need it to reach something up high but for the most part not essential and at times extremely inconvenient.

    Part of the problem is that the process of schooling for the gifted is the slow carving away of the soul to create nice obedient compliant children.It could be compared to the longest and worst power point presentation you’ve ever attended. 8 hours of daily repetition of task learned years before. Frustration, anger and defiance are natural offshoots of such torturous treatment.

    For my son the emphasis is on social skills. Fantastic I’m all for it. The next question then becomes who is his peer group? He’s a weird and wonderfully wacky 4 year old. I see him try to make connections with his classmates and for the most part the conversations are awkward. “Whats your pattern?” he might ask a playmate. He chose and ABAB pattern that morning. He doesn’t understand how other kids don’t pick their patterns in the morning before they go to school.

    The other interesting thing about being gifted is that it’s not a nice present wrapped in a bow. In my case, I may be able to remember toms of trivial pieces of information, but I have very poor short term memory. I have no sense of direction and I live in a major city. When I moved here to learn how to navigate I had to memorize all the street names in sequence. I know where I am going because I know which street I just passed and which is supposed to come up. I find my car in the parking lot by looking for my license plate. I’d trade quite a few IQ points to be able to find my own car in a crowded mall parking lot without spending hours wandering up and down the rows of cars.

    Penelope is quite right about intelligence being relatively useless. There are actually very few professions in which hard work and passion can’t make up for that ease of learning. The trauma of being put through the wringer of school, of never fitting in, and of always feeling out of place and just that wrongness of self is hard to overcome.

    That’s why I love our family so much, it’s a home I’ve never had where I can be myself, quirks and quarks and warts. We’re really weird around here and we revel in our absurdities and the complete oxymoronic situations created by a father who’s intellect got him invited to Duke at 12 but has a hard time leaving the house because of crippling anxiety disorder, a mother who’s also supposed to be smart but also can’t leave the house because she’s lost her keys for the millionth time and a lovely laughing 4 year old (pattern ABBA this morning). We all do the best we can with what we have.

  17. Pamela
    Pamela says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    “Yes, all children are unique. No, not all children are gifted.”

    There’s a difference, as anyone who has ever read Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities and exclaimed, “OMG, I *know* someone like that!,”knows too well. And even with the “gifted” community there’s a range of degrees of acceleration.

    So to insist that “all children are gifted,” as someone did earlier… as someone always does on the Internet when giftedness comes up… is just not true. I think Howard Gardner would even bristle at that idea, even though he did some marvelous work that opened us up to seeing that children can have “gifts” in certain areas, beyond the 3 Rs.

    Alas, the word “gifted” and it’s application in discerning how children learn is messy, imprecise. Unfortunately, that messiness leads to a lot of overgeneralizations and misunderstandings–and more work for families with gifted loved ones to undertake to provide clarity for others.

    Yet it’s worth it in the end to step forward, as Penelope has, and try to articulate the issues of giftedness–and why homeschool is a viable option.

    Note that as for the nuts-and-bolts of homeschooling gifted kids, the non-profit Gifted Homeschooler’s Forum is a wonderful resource for anyone looking for help (or moral support) in this endeavor.

    • CJ
      CJ says:

      All children are gifted. All people are gifted is more complete, actually.

      All people are not prodigies.

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