Homeschooling, day 479

Just making up numbers, because recording things isn’t one of my strong points.

Squid has been working on year 10 (ish) maths, building skills in patience, research, persistence and resilience. Finding out the skills you need to learn in the face of challenges, something that he hasn’t really been getting from school.

Here is a link to a video that demonstrates why not being challenged is a risk factor for gifted kids.

Right now he is rewriting “The Princess Bride” in Zero Language. Probably not useful from a creative writing perspective, but his handwriting is legible, so we are also calling that a win.

I really don’t give a rats about what level he is working at. What I care about is that he learns how to deal with barriers. How to persist when things get hard. How to use your brain to foster a growth mindset instead of just expecting life to be easy, and to turn to custard when you face a challenge.

We’ve been having lots of conversations about intrinsic Vs. extrinsic motivation, and how to get through the boring tasks so that you have time for the fun stuff. A lot of kids with ADHD struggle with repetitive, boring tasks, and executive function is something that we are explicitly attempting to deal with in our “year off”.

We don’t know yet what next year will look like. I know that Squid would love to go to AGE full time, and I honestly feel like a year of exploration and low demand would be good for the soul. But I can’t see us finding the $20k per year, and I also can’t quite let go of my expectations that he should be able to function in a “normal” school environment.

Maybe, a year of play and exploration will lead to more demand avoidance. But maybe, some cognitive skills training and raising expectations will see him able to integrate back into a mainstream school setting, albeit with a few accommodations.

One reason mainstream school needs to be part of the picture is because of his strong interest in science – teaching chemistry without a lab or a licence to buy chemicals (or having any expertise at all!) isn’t an idea I can get my head around.

This afternoon we switch from the psychology team to the neurodevelopmental team at the Kari Centre. The anxiety for which we were initially referred last year has all but disappeared since leaving school. Two weeks ago, at his own suggestion, Inigo has moved back into his own bedroom to sleep. At the same time, he said he didn’t need an adult to stay with him while he sent to sleep, and has mostly slept by himself all through the night without any input from a parent.

It smells like victory.

On new beginnings

Today was Squid’s first day at AGE. All morning people kept telling me what a great kid he is, and how much they are looking forward to having him around. He practically leapt out of the car to go inside, and left me in the dust. I had some admin stuff to sort out, so I followed him in, and then watched as he marched up the street, deep in conversation with Anne.

I picked him up, and was again told how well he had fit in with the group, how sweet and empathetic he is, and what a lovely addition to the school. He didn’t want to leave. He’s decided on Tuesdays and Fridays as his AGE days, Tuesday for the Chess Master, and Fridays for Dance, Drama, Cooking, Feasting, and Celebration of Learning. And I think Technology and Robotics too.

We have more assessments to come, and we are still waiting for the official paperwork fro the ministry, but for now, it is easy to feel like we have made the right choices for him this year.

Huge thanks to Karen for dropping over an amazing K’Nex set that she has saved from when her kids were budding engineers. It is already taking over the living room!

The view from here

Kitten thing fell asleep in my hand last night. And this morning she was purring and rubbing herself against Mark’s foot. We estimate that she is about 7 weeks old, and yesterday she weighed 600gm exactly. So next week, hopefully she will be ready for a great forever home, and we will be able to settle her in before I go to Dunedin for Unwind.

Small boy had a trial day at the Academy for Gifted Education in Takapuna last week, and he loved it so much that we decided that sending him there part time had to be part of our arsenal. This year, we are going to get our joyful kiddo back. Before he started school, he loved learning, and drawing, and reading and numbers, and every educational experience we could give him was devoured.

Over the years we have seen his thirst for knowledge devolve into a resistance, a sad place for a kid that thrives on learning. School, and the expectations and pressures have crushed him to a point that is unacceptable, and we want to spend this year reversing the damage that has been done. He’ll continue at MindPlus with Diana this year, and also spend 1 or 2 days a week at AGE, following his passions and dreams in a supported environment that is pretty similar to a structured unschooling approach. Tomorrow we will meet with the learning coach to work out a learning plan for him, and see where that path will lead.

Academically, he may slip behind. But my expectation is that our child will thrive and learn exponentially, once he recovers his sense of joy and wonder. Financially, it’s a good thing we like lentils. Philosophically, we are sad that public school hasn’t worked out for him. We passionately believe in public schools, and feel that if every parent supported public education, then public education would be well enough resourced to be able to accommodate kids like ours, that don’t fit into a public school shaped hole. At least, not yet.

Intermediate school might be better. High school almost definitely will. And by the time he hits university, and has found his tribe, and his passion, life will be wonderful. But for now, for this particular Inigo shaped kid, there won’t be any more trying to jam him into a hole that isn’t ever going to accommodate his complicated angles. Bean bags all the way baby!

In case you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to have a gifted kid (and why parents who have gifted kids don’t always see it as a gift!), have a read of this. The intensity of living with a person who feels that the death of a butterfly is important, who feels bad about being rude once five years ago and it keeps him awake at night, and who can still barely tie his shoelaces at 10 years old, but also understands that time and space are really the same thing, is another kind of parenting challenge that isn’t well understood, and not talked about enough.