Starting home education can be quite daunting – doubly so if you are deciding to home educate a special needs child, whether that child is gifted, disabled, or both (called ‘twice exceptional’, or’ 2e’).
Not everyone who decides to home educate their gifted/2e child sets out on this journey by choice. Neuro-atypical kids tend not to fit in neat school boxes, and can be a challenge to parent, and to home educate. The one characteristic that really identifies gifted/2e kids is asynchronous development – these kids are capable of being multiple ages at the same time. For example, 20 years old when discussing high-level economics, physically eight years old, but emotionally four years old when asked to share. You can never be quite sure which age they will be on any given day, or at any given moment!
This can make putting together a curriculum, or even a lesson plan, a challenge, and rarely are you ever going to find a bought curriculum that you will be able to use straight out of the box.
If you are just starting out on your home education journey with a gifted/2e child – don’t rush! Give them time to find what they are passionate about, use the many online resources available, and go to the library. Your child will probably power through some curriculum at double, triple, quadruple or even higher speed, while other subjects might be extremely slow (for us, it’s handwriting). This is one of the beauties of home education – tailoring lessons to what the child is ready and able to learn. Finding ways to allow them to advance to their interest level, while shaping the content to accommodate and support their disabilities, is individual to each child, and takes time to figure out.
One thing that I have found to be vital, is finding support groups and information that help me and my family feel less alone. From detailed information on brain wiring, to brainstorming and commiserating with fellow parents, it’s a life-saver!
This is a compilation of the resources I have found extremely helpful in planning and continuing to home educate my own twice exceptional child.
Mailing List Jo Freitag’s mailing list – Jo maintains a monthly newsletter that outlines available activities for gifted children in Victoria. She also writes a blog and maintains a Facebook page and twitter feed (@jofrei).
Victorian Gifted Organisations There are a number of gifted organisations in Victoria:
–Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children
– Gifted Support Network
-The Big Bang Coffee Club: email@example.com
-Maroondah Gifted Children’s Parents Association: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Belgrave Parent Support Group email@example.com
– Children of High Intellectual Potential (CHIP) Geelong
– Casterton and District Area
– Gifted Resource and Information Group- Casey/Cardinia: firstname.lastname@example.org
See Jo’s mailing list (above) for further details.
Victorian Activities for Gifted Children
There are a number of enrichment activities available that can be appropriate for gifted children who are home educated.
Prime Sci – a science program for school-aged children run by Monash University. Their Facebook page is also quite good:
CSIRO usually have summer and holiday programs, as well as two magazines – Scientriffic for juniors, and Double Helix for older students.
Mensa has a magazine for young Mensans, called Fred. Their annual conference is in Melbourne this year in November.
Gateways offers a number of programmes for gifted children that are not tied to school attendance.
CHIP usually runs through the schools, but also does holiday programmes.
Melbourne University Public Lectures.
Monash University Public Lectures.
Online Organisations and Websites
Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) does as its name suggests. SENG offers seminars (purchased online though occasionally free) and support. Some of their board members are home educators, even unschoolers!
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum is a support group for home educating families with gifted/2e children. They offer courses, have a very active Facebook page, forums, an active blogging community and books. Disclosure: I’m a member, and it’s awesome.
There are quite a few active Yahoo groups. These ones are specifically for home educating gifted/2e families:
o Homeschooling Mensans
o TagMAX (home educating gifted), TagPDQ (highly gifted+) (www.tagfam.org)
These Yahoo groups are for gifted families, but are not necessarily home education groups:
o Davidson Gifted Forum
o Gifted Families
o TagFam (www.tagfam.org)
There is a wonderful community of parents blogging about home educating gifted/2e children. A great list to start with is the GHF list . Some of my personal favourites include:
– Pamela Price’s Red, White & Grew
– Amy Harrington’s A Voracious Mind
– Jen Merril’s Laughing at Chaos
– Defying Gravity
– My Twice Baked Potato
Lisa Rivero’s book Creative Homeschooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families is a great resource for parents starting home education. It contains resources and chapters on the various styles of home educating, how they work, and how they can be adapted for gifted students.
GHF Press has a number of publications for home educating gifted and 2e children. A good one to start with is Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t fit your Atypical Child.
This is a brief summary of some of the services available for children with disabilities. It is not complete, but I hope it is accurate. It’s a good idea to check with the Department of Human Services and possibly your GP for up-to-date information and other options that might be available.
Better Start is a service for children with one or more of a list of disabilities who are registered before they are six years old. It covers a range of services until they are seven years old. There is also some funding for services until the child turns 13, such as Medicare plans for some specialist services. None of these are dependent upon school attendance.
Access All Abilities is a service for finding sports clubs and activities that are able to cater for children with disabilities.
Carer’s Allowance is available for parents who are caring for disabled children.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme might be available for children who are home educated because their disability or health prevents them from attending a bricks-and-mortar school.
There are also many other organisations that are able to offer disability services, including social groups and respite care. It’s worth contacting the Department of Human Services to find out which organisations cover your particular geographic area.
There are some great resources for home educating disabled kids. Here are a few good websites, but there are many more:
If anyone needs more information, or would just like to chat about home educating their own gifted/2e child, please feel free to contact me on: Giftedand2E@home-ed.vic.edu.au
I also blog about our own home education experience at Gluten-free Mum.