Gifted kids are often asynchronous.
Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that a lot of the time, their brains are too big for their britches. Their intellectual, emotional and physical development happen at different rates.
For example, in my home asynchrony looks like this:
Bug will pick up a book from the bookshelf and sit down to read it. The reading level is appropriate for him, but the content is too much for him emotionally. The book leaves him in tears, with more questions than answers.
Bug will sit down to do math- the questions themselves are an appropriate level of difficulty. He likes the challenge, but the spaces to write in are much too small. Instead of being able to simply do his math, now the problems need copied onto another piece of paper (which I need to do for him) so he can do them in his large, sometimes messy barely-seven-year-old handwriting.
These things may seem like small issues, but they come up again and again. He doesn’t have the hand strength to work the tools he wants to use to build something. He can’t handle the mature themes. It can be disheartening to a kid who just wants to DO it. He knows how, he understands the process, but his body just isn’t keeping up with it.
I had an epiphany a few months ago- that this ability vs. maturity question is about more than simply asynchrony.
It’s about childhood.
This kiddo is seven. I know he is capable of advanced school work. I know craves the challenge, but there needs to be a balance here between letting him work at the level of his heart. I look at him, and sometimes forget that if he was in a public school, he would have just finished the first grade.
The First Grade.
It’s easy to forget when none of our school books say grade 1 on them, and we don’t spend much time around other kids at this level. In the school here, these kids are new readers. They just mastered their addition facts. They still celebrate all the holidays and do crafts and school is still a whole lot of playtime.
So why then, should we not be doing crafts and celebrating holidays too?
I spent a lot of the last year struggling with Bug to meet his constantly changing needs, and working with his asynchrony, and trying to keep him challenged. I am proud of the progress he has made. I am proud of his achievements, and to be honest, I am proud of his advanced academics.
But I don’t want all of that to come at the cost of his childhood.
He can still learn and play and build without a curriculum.
He can still solve problems and create challenges for himself, without me assigning them.
He can still read advanced books without trying to tackle mature themes (okay, this one is a bit more of a struggle- if you know of a book list for young, advanced readers, pass me a message!).
He can still be a gifted kid, and just be a kid.
I am trying to be more purposeful this year to include the magic of childhood in our school day. I am trying to remember his age, and his emotional and physical maturity when looking for materials for him. Challenges can be found everywhere. As long as I provide him with good books, and materials to explore, he’ll still be learning. We are spending more time outside, more time imagining, and more time playing…. And less time working.
There is plenty of time for that later.
This post is part of the Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour- Read the rest of the tour here: