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    Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

    So, I need some of the good sort of advice. My son Z is four, almost five. We are more LCC people than MP core people (I like making plans!) so he isn't really officially doing anything like Jr.K this year. Despite that, he has managed in our first twelve weeks of school to learn cursive (big brother is in first!), reads to the Scamp and Tramp level, and so far is holding his own in First Grade math with none of the writing. Today he threw a fit because he wanted to do just as many addition problems as his brother!

    So, like I said this is the desirable type of problem to have. (Not that Z is full of only the good sort of issue. He has caused more public humiliation than the other three combined.) But at school time he seems to keep up with the older kids thanks to zero effort on my part. I guess my questions are these, how do you advise handling curriculum choices for a child like this? Do you accelerate anything you can? Only math? How much do you enforce "grade level" just to ensure mastery? I am not really looking for specific curricular recommendations as much as general advice and rules of thumb for dealing with children that shows some signs of being somewhat gifted.

    Thanks!

    Lena

    #2
    Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

    For someone who loves planning, guiding gifted children is challenging. I have tossed so many plans out the window! Here are a few lessons I learned, which may or may be applicable to your child.

    They tend to reach mastery much faster than we think they will, and insisting on keeping them at a grade level to make sure they have something mastered just leads to boredom.

    Accelerating math is simple, just keep doing the next thing, but I have found adding highly challenging supplements to be more useful than just accelerating. This helps them learn to deal with frustration when they get to harder subjects later. Often Elementary and middle school schoolwork is so easy for them they think that everything should be easy and they don't learn the skills of perseverance or good study skills early. Giving them challenges helps with this, but not everything should be at a super challenging level so that they never have times where they just can enjoy that feeling of mastery of material. It is a balancing act.

    In my experience they often want to work intensely on one thing at a time, so subjects that only get scheduled once or twice a week do not work for them. For example each Tiner science book, including supplemental activities, got done in a month here, rather than a semester.

    Hope that helps a little!
    Kristin - Administrator for Vita Beata (discussion classes for MP users)
    DD19; AFROTC and Aerospace Engineering Major
    DD17; Senior - doing MP Divine Comedy, Renaissance & Reformation, Cicero & Augustine, and moderating 4th Grade Literature for Vita Beata.

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      #3
      Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

      Lena,
      Hello again! Sounds like you have a bright little guy on your hands! While we have never crossed over into a "gifted" category in our house, we do have some that sound a lot like your Z, especially because of one of the comments that you made - that he can be as intense with his behavior as he is with his interest in school. This is something I want to draw on because it fits very well with my experience as well.

      Our kids who show that level of interest in school are usually pretty intense all the way around. And they came that way - even in infancy. So while things like school come really easily to them, the intensity can make normal things a bit more challenging. Because of this I would say to give him the work at the level that he needs, but keep your daily expectations of him within normal bounds. If he is doing first grade math that's fine, but keep the limit of how long he works to a level that is reasonable for a four/five year old. Because while he may not need help with the math, what he really needs help with is setting a limit for himself.

      The ability to pace himself, to control his emotions, and especially, to control frustration with something that does not come easily to him, are going to be areas where you will probably need to spend more time than his actual academics. I have these sorts of kids, and I also have the opposite...kids who are emotionally really "chill," but need help with actual school. Find the level of work he needs in each area of "school," but then keep up with the character development along the way.

      Part of what has helped my "intense" ones are:
      - force them to take breaks to get fresh air and do some physical activity in between subjects. If I don't, they just work, work, work - and end up fried and frustrated.

      - make sure they have non-school activities that take the level of intensity they possess. Legos have been fantastic for this. My intense kids will make much more elaborate creations than my non-intense ones - and they will think of little else during that building process! My boy tends to like the legos...my girls tend to like setting up elaborate dollhouses or drawing.

      -music. My intense ones are kids that "get" things really quickly. This is why they lose interest and get frustrated if they are not challenged. Music is amazing for this. When they have to start learning a new lesson, or a new song, it takes great patience to figure it out. The fact they have to repeat, repeat, repeat to get something right actually really helps them learn to deal with the frustration of not getting something right on the first try. It seems to address some of the things that are otherwise lacking from their personalities because most other things come so easily. Plus, there is always a harder piece they could learn to play. It is one of the few things they can do in childhood that consistently provides new challenges.

      You cannot make a child arrive this way, nor can you root it out of them. So I have found that giving them things which take the level of intensity they possess is the best way to help them use it. But the flip side to that coin is to also help them still deal with "normal" life - the fact that not everything happens as quickly as they would like it too!

      These are my kids for whom I am so grateful to be homeschooling. They do not do well in a normal classroom environment.

      AMDG,
      Sarah
      2020-2021
      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
      DS, 17
      DD, 15
      DD, 13
      DD, 11
      DD, 9
      DD, 7
      +DS+
      DS, 2

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        #4
        Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

        You have received some excellent advise so far. I would add that you might consider beginning with some writing. Working through FSR at an accelerated pace and having him write some numbers will gain this. Because he is young, his fine motor skills may need work, scissor activities, legos, clay modeling are a few ways to develop these important muscles.

        Blessings,
        Michelle T

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

          Will echo the answers you have already received with personal experience. I was a gifted child. School was a breeze for me. I got straight A's in everything, all the time... Until I ran up against AP English, Chemistry and Geometry -- that is, high school. By then, I had already developed my own expectations of how to study (I didn't) and how to learn and execute challenging material (no clue). Take the preceding advice. You'll do your child a world of good.
          “If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, Nunc Coepi, ‘Now, I begin.’.”

          ~Venerable Bruno Lanteri
          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
          Wonder Boy 14 ... MP5 + R&S Math 6
          Joy Bubble 12 ... MP5 full core
          Cowboy 10 ... MP5 + R&S Math 4
          Sassafras 6 ... MP1
          All … SSPX Catechesis

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            #6
            Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

            My oldest was very much this way. Bright, energetic, eager to learn... She started reading at age 3, was doing 1st grade math at age 5 and always wanted to do "one more lesson!". I learned the hard way that even bright little sparks need limits; however, it was difficult for me to know how to do this. I didn't start with MP and was still in the "homeschoolers have to be overachievers" mindset. It took some time, a great deal of frustration and a good dose of humility for me to get her into a comfortable pace.

            She is still a bright girl but some of skills have leveled off comfortably at MP grade-level. She still shines in math and Latin (she's well ahead of "grade level" in Latin); however, composition is her Achilles heel. Since other things (like languages, math and science) come so easily to her, it frustrates her to no end that she just doesn't "get" writing. She cannot STAND being introduced to a new concept that she doesn't immediately grasp (ahem - literature). She wants to speed read through her selections and would rather I cut composition out altogether. (She has said several times that it should be enough to just read great literature and doesn't understand why she has to also write well.) She is my analyst and has no time for fluffy, creative subjects, character development or in-depth conversations about literary devices - unless SHE comes up with the ideas herself. She is also, er, prideful. *weary laugh*

            Also, we found that while she did exceedingly well in math, she was moving ahead so quickly that she wasn't necessarily retaining basic skills. In her case, I reined her in around 5th grade and put her on grade level in math, which has been a godsend. It's mostly review for her, but since she's being challenged in other areas, it works...and she has the added benefit of solidifying some of those earlier-learned skills. In Latin, she's still well ahead because she continues to do well. You may find that your little dynamo may level himself off as he gets a little older - or maybe he won't. In either case, keep him moving at the steady pace others have mentioned while keeping a keen eye on retention.
            Last edited by Mary; 10-19-2016, 04:20 PM. Reason: subject-verb disagreement. Had to intervene before a fight broke out.
            Mary

            DD15 - 9th core + CLRC Ancient Greek I & Latin IV + VideoText math
            DS12 - 7th core + Novare Earth Science + CLRC HS Latin I + VideoText math
            DD8 - SC level 2

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

              Thank you all for the advise. He is intense. And Anita, you hit it on the head. I did well is school and by college I had no idea how to study. I do want him to be challenged so that he isn't in that place.

              I guess the challenge is how to balance time and workload restrictions appropriate to a kindergartener when they are working on material from a higher grade. I suppose time limits are a major approach. Sarah, I am SO glad he is not in school. My in-laws think he would be "normal" if he were in school, but knowing him up close (and the grandmother he resembles in personality) there ain't nothing on earth that will ever make him average. My goal is a useful adult, but an average child is out of the question. When did you start music with your children? I am doing home piano lessons with my 8 year old after the move, but when should I start my son? I doubt he would have trouble understanding music notation given time, but he is small with small hands. Piano is the only instrument where his father and I have access and knowledge. And yes, the boy can CREATE with Legos. He also love puzzles. 300-500 piece puzzles. I am not sure how to use that kind of spacial skill talent in real life, but it does entertain him for stretches. And yes, Mary, a touch prideful *weary laugh.*

              Final question, his brother will start Prima next year. Can he do Prima alongside? Orally? Should I try to discourage his participation? That is one of those where the workload would get out of control fast, but on the other hand Prima is straightforward and he wants to work with his brother. I know it would not hurt him to delay, but what do you tell a child that WANTS to try?

              Lena

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

                I have a child very much the same way. I did start him a year early in MP. I have mixed feelings about that. In some ways it's been totally fine. He can do all of the work and the reading is interesting for him. The writing element is difficult for him though so I really focus on having him write things out carefully, and neatly. I would never move him up higher (even though he could probably do the work orally at least), because the content would quickly become to mature for him and the writing would get out of control. I am also worried about the transition to third grade, because of how much more writing is expected. We're really focusing on cursive this year because of that.

                To compensate I have him in some other activities. He plays chess, not just as a fun game, but he studies the game and tactics for about an hour most afternoons. He competes once a week in a local club / tournament. He really enjoys this and it's great for his planning skills and concentration. We use Beast Academy for a fun math program. If you've never heard of it, it's like a comic for math. He loves it. It doesn't start until 3rd grade so may be a couple of years, but there are a lot of advanced thinking concepts in it that really challenge him. I do still have him doing Rod and Staff math because I want the basics solidified, but Beast has a lot of fun geometry and algebra concepts he enjoys playing around with.

                Regarding your specific Latin question, if he wants to, and doesn't have anything else he needs to be doing, there's no harm in letting him watch the video with you. I know last year my son watched most of the videos because he was usually done with his work by that time. This year though he is actually in Prima, and he still has to do everything. Last year I didn't ask him the questions, he just joined us for the movie and was in the room when we were reviewing. He remembers a lot of it, but now he has to write things out, spell the Latin correctly, ect. So, even though he's had exposure before he now has expectations on him.

                I hope this helps!
                ~Michelle

                DD 13 (MP 8 - 4FL and Ref/Con through MPOA)
                DS 11 (MP 6 w/MPOA)
                DS 5 - MP K (My first Kindergartner with MP!!!)
                DD 2 - Board Books and Chaos

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                  #9
                  Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

                  Lena,
                  Michelle has given great advice about the fact that things can be more difficult down the road if you start out too early. I would also let him try what he wants to try, but keep the thought in mind that you may have to slow way down at some spots to let his natural maturity catch up. But yes, give him other things that address those instincts without moving ahead in school in all areas.

                  We also have only had access to a piano, so that is what we have done, and it really is hand size that plays the major deciding factor there. For that reason, 8 does seem about right to me. BUT....my kids have been doing Hoffman Academy (online video lessons) this year and I have been really surprised with it. My younger ones like it more than my older ones. And even my three year old and soon to be five year old love sitting and watching the videos. They plunk away to imitate what they hear - and actually do a lot! I think even these young ones can handle it.

                  The videos are free, you just have to pay if you want to download the paper worksheets. I caught a sale late summer and got the worksheets for half off.

                  AMDG,
                  Sarah
                  2020-2021
                  16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                  DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                  DS, 17
                  DD, 15
                  DD, 13
                  DD, 11
                  DD, 9
                  DD, 7
                  +DS+
                  DS, 2

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Eager, Able (but still small!) Children

                    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
                    Lena,
                    Michelle has given great advice about the fact that things can be more difficult down the road if you start out too early. I would also let him try what he wants to try, but keep the thought in mind that you may have to slow way down at some spots to let his natural maturity catch up. But yes, give him other things that address those instincts without moving ahead in school in all areas.

                    We also have only had access to a piano, so that is what we have done, and it really is hand size that plays the major deciding factor there. For that reason, 8 does seem about right to me. BUT....my kids have been doing Hoffman Academy (online video lessons) this year and I have been really surprised with it. My younger ones like it more than my older ones. And even my three year old and soon to be five year old love sitting and watching the videos. They plunk away to imitate what they hear - and actually do a lot! I think even these young ones can handle it.

                    The videos are free, you just have to pay if you want to download the paper worksheets. I caught a sale late summer and got the worksheets for half off.

                    AMDG,
                    Sarah
                    I got an email today from Hoffman Academy with a coupon code for the worksheets. The code is FUN.
                    Joyfully, Courtney
                    DS14, DS12, DS11, DD9

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