We have homeschooled for all of our kids’ primary and highschool years. Two have graduated, and two are still at it. When my oldest was about 9 years of age, a friend, who was a primary school teacher though homeschooling her family, said to me “If Josh was in school he would be in the ‘gifted’ programme.” She was trying to help me see that Josh wasn’t following the average/normal pathways of learning (not that I can remember why I needed that encouragement at the time).
I reluctantly heard what she had to say. I was reluctant about gifted programmes.
Let me just say, that my attitude was based on what I had seen in schools and that both my experience and Joshua’s primary school years, were a long time ago; things may have changed in gifted programmes now, but my reasons still stand as something for parents to consider.
I had seen gifted children (for there is no ignoring the fact that there are children who are smart and accelerated learners, sometimes in every aspect, sometimes in a particular field), but I had seen these children isolated from their peers, and set in classrooms with children a lot older in years. In one particular example that I remember clearly – in the classroom this kid was put up several grades with his intellectual peers, but socially he was immature for that highschool group, so he was ignored. If he went to the younger kids’ playground, they also rejected him because he was arrogant and bragged about where he had been during class time. There are a lot of things wrong with this picture.
Admittedly, one of the biggest issues that created this situation is the traditional age segregation classroom / playground set up in schools – but that aside, human nature also played a part (a lack of character).
As a parent, I had two things I wanted to keep in balance. I wanted my child, to whom learning came easy, to excel, but I also wanted him to excel in relationships. Some of the things I’ve said to Josh are: God has given you a brain to use to glorify Him not just for your own pleasure; God has a plan for you and your abilities and as I see it, God’s plans always involve people – so, though an intellectual ivory tower may sound great (to an introvert intellectual), that is not how I see God work: God works with and for people.
From the time Joshua was 6 we became aware that he needed to be taught social awareness in a very specific and concrete way. He didn’t have intuition when it came to people and relationships. But Jesus asks us to “love God and love our neighbour”: Josh, with all his abilities, quirks, and bents needs to be able to love other people.
When we get so focused on our child being ‘gifted’ we tend to focus on that one aspect of their life – it may be intellectual gifting, it may be music, or art, or sport (these are the traditional things we see as gifts in our culture), but God has created these kids as a whole being: physical, intellectual, spiritual, moral, emotional, social. It is our job as parents to grow them in each and every area. Yes, the area where they are gifted, where they have an extra strength, will be easier but we must not train that one aspect to the expense of these other areas.
So the title of this post is probably a bit misleading, I didn’t hold him back, I didn’t hide books, and limit conversations, but I did make sure his education wasn’t all about his particular strength.
When people get to know Josh now, they can see that he is a quick thinker, a deep thinker, someone who has studied and knows his stuff, but they also see that he is a young man who loves God, loves people and gives himself to them, regardless of their age or abilities. And these are the reasons I’m proud of my son.
Also sharing and linking with others:
Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)
Monday’s Musings, Thoughtful Spot, Hip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Finishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years), Capture your Journey, Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R, From House to Home, Fellowship Fridays, Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage Fridays