Today, I am thrilled to welcome Lucinda Leo. I first “met” Lucinda through the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blogger community. I am a huge fan of her work and I honest-to-goodness wish she didn’t live all the way across the pond because I know we’d have a lot to chat about over a cup of coffee… and I have a sneaking suspicion that our children would hit it off too! Lucinda and I are both unexpected homeschoolers and we are both parenting gifted and twice-exceptional children. We share similar styles and I just know you are going to love what she has to say here today!
The 5 Best Homeschooling Decisions We’ve Made
I never intended to home-educate my children. It was something we fell into when school clearly wasn’t working for my 5-year-old son (who I later discovered is twice-exceptional).
But even though we didn’t choose it, homeschooling Jasper (now 11) and his gifted sister Cordie (13) turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to our family.
When Cait kindly invited me to write a post for My Little Poppies, I thought it would be fun to look back over the last six years and reflect on some of the best homeschooling choices we’ve made along the way.
1. Playful Maths
Right from the start, I struggled to find a maths curriculum that would engage and challenge my strong-willed children. I knew they’d learn plenty of maths in everyday life, but I wanted more than for them to double cookie recipes and convert inches to centimetres – I wanted them to know the joy of thinking like mathematicians.
Denise Gaskins’ book, Let’s Play Math, was the answer to my prayers. Let’s Play Math not only encourages us to engage with serious maths ideas through play – it offers detailed guidelines on how to do so.
From that moment on, maths meant games, number talks, and hands-on activities like Lego multiplication towers and Pythagorean knotted ropes. We’ve explored Platonic solids with cocktail sticks and marshmallows, read countless living books, found the Fibonacci series in the petals of a daisy, and created tessellated art inspired by M.C.Escher
What we’ve never done is spend months learning number facts – not even the multiplication tables. Instead, I trusted that if my kids had enough exposure to interesting problems, they’d learn the maths facts without even noticing – not by rote memorisation, but with a deep comprehension of what each fact means and the flexibility to solve problems in multiple ways.
At the core of our maths approach is the buddy system. Instead of assigning my kids pages of maths, I work alongside them, enjoying the chance to engage with maths differently from the formulaic way I was taught at school.
Does this mean my kids haven’t learned to work independently? On the contrary, buddy maths has laid a foundation which has given them both a love of maths and the ability to confidently tackle any mathematical challenges that come their way.
2. Brave Writer
My 2e son, Jasper, has mild dyslexia and rarely reads for pleasure, but give him a cookie and a captive audience and he’ll overcome his difficulties and entertain us with his favourite verses for hours (if we let him).
Brave Writer teatime has been a highlight of our homeschooling routine for years now. When we’re not reciting poetry or reading stories aloud, we play word games like Consequences or make up our own Mad Libs stories, which are an easy and fun way to practise writing.
Freewriting and copywork also work well for us. Jasper uses a keyboard for freewriting, which stops his dysgraphia from slowing down his creativity. Meanwhile, copywork from his favourite books is a painless way to work on his handwriting skills.
3. Hands-on Science
Non-homeschooling friends sometimes ask how we do science without lab facilities. The question makes me laugh because I’ve done more hands-on science experiments homeschooling my kids than I did in all the years I was at school.
With so many fun experiments on the internet, we’ve never felt the need to follow a science curriculum. Instead, we jump around trying one cool experiment after another, supplementing what we’re learning with YouTube and living books. Among our favourites are Russell Stannard’s ‘Uncle Albert’ physics series, and Theodore Gray’s ‘The Elements‘.
Despite all my efforts to inspire a growth mindset in my kids, I have one competitive and perfectionistic child who gets super-anxious about making mistakes. If I ask him to hypothesise what might happen in an experiment and then something different happens, meltdown can ensue. For this reason, we don’t follow the scientific method explicitly, but the process happens naturally thanks to kids’ innate curiosity.
When everyone else in the family loves reading, it’s perplexing to have a child who doesn’t. Although Jasper can read well when he needs information, his mild dyslexia means he rarely reads fiction for pleasure. Thankfully Jasper showed us what he needed a long time ago when he picked up a Moomins audiobook at the library.
Once Jasper had exhausted the library’s stocks we took out an Audible subscription, which was probably the best homeschooling investment we’ve ever made. Although I was concerned at first that audiobooks weren’t ‘proper’ reading, now I’m just happy that Jasper can enjoy books as much as the rest of us. He even has the advantage of being able to ‘read’ when he’s out walking, which I’d have loved to do when I was a kid with my nose permanently in a book!
5. A Liberal YouTube Policy
We have a liberal screen policy in our homeschool. Like most parents, I’ve had a few wobbles about whether I’m getting the balance right, but the years have eased my concerns as it’s become obvious how much my children online.
The other afternoon I found my 13-year-old daughter drawing complex maths doodles, which she told me she’d seen on Vi Hart’s YouTube channel. When Cordie scrolled down her feed to send me a link, I noticed her day’s viewing history contained dozens of other intriguing thumbnails on topics ranging from spacetime to Hegel’s philosophy to Fibonacci. What surprised me was that Cordie had been in group classes all morning, without her phone.
‘When did you have time to watch all these?’ I asked. ‘Oh I watched them while I was getting dressed and having breakfast,’ she replied nonchalantly. I felt bad for thinking she’d been on Snapchat that whole time!
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When we began homeschooling I knew nothing about giftedness or twice-exceptionality. I used to wonder what I was doing wrong when my children rejected curricula that other people’s kids loved. But now I understand about asynchronous development and overexcitabilities, I’m so appreciative that my kids told me what they needed – and that I listened.
Educating gifted kids may not be easy, but it’s never dull. I’m so excited to see what the second half of our homeschooling adventure will bring!
Now, it’s your turn. Tell us: What are the best homeschooling decisions you’ve made so far?
Love this post?
Be sure to check out these other fantastic posts from Lucinda Leo:
- 7 Signs Your Child Has Psychomotor Overexcitability
- Why Our Intense Children Trigger Our Suppressed Pain
- You Know Your Family Has Overexcitabiities When…
Are you on the gifted/2e journey?
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