Design Thinking and Project-Based Learning for Twice-Exceptional Learners Description
Are you having a hard time meeting your creative gifted or twice-exceptional child’s need for depth and complexity in their learning? You may have heard of Design Thinking and project-based learning and wondered if it can meet those needs; but do you need help in figuring out exactly how it all works?
Join educator, author, and coach Jade Rivera to discuss authentic learning, how to scaffold a child as they learn new skills, and how giftedness and twice-exceptionality, design thinking and project-based learning go hand in hand. Jade will share her favorite resources and techniques for meeting the educational needs of these amazing and delightful children at this fun and engaging workshop.
For over ten years, Jade Rivera has made educating gifted and twice-exceptional children her mission. She is the founder and lead educator of Sunnyside Micro-School for gifted and twice-exceptional children in Oakland, CA. She is a proud Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Ambassador and author of Micro-Schools: Creating Personalized Learning on a Budget. In 2016 she was honored by the California Association for Gifted Children for her distinguished service on behalf of gifted families.
In this guest post by Mary Paul of Homeschooling2e, she discusses her unexpected journey into homeschooling her twice exceptional child. If you are parent to a gifted or 2e child, we welcome you to join SEA’s Gifted & 2e support group.
It’s funny sometimes – there never seemed to be a “plan” for us to homeschool, but looking back I think that we never really had a choice. Like a one-way road that forces you onto the highway, our road led straight to homeschooling. And I was dragged, kicking and screaming all the way to the lead parent and teacher role.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to homeschool. Truly. Because I knew what it would be like. I knew how much work it would be. And I knew, having raised my oldest to the ripe old age of 5, that it would be difficult to keep up with him. More like impossible, but I’m being optimistic here.
It’s not a well-kept secret now if you read my blog Homeschooling2e at all. I was homeschooled K-12 at a time when only the outliers homeschooled. When not most, but ALL of the homeschool curriculum was faith-based in a very in-your-face way. So I knew what I was getting into, and I was all for the grand idea of putting my kid on the shiny yellow school bus and sending him off to kindergarten.
Life happens. And here we are.
Homeschooling The Twice Exceptional Child
My oldest is twice exceptional. That means he’s advanced in some ways, and hampered by learning disabilities in others. He is so far out of the box that there is no box, only his path to learning. I worried about him starting Kindergarten and struggling with a class full of other 5-year-olds who weren’t fascinated by volcanos and couldn’t skip count by 50s already.
We did our best to start him off with the help he needed for his disabilities by doing an IEP (individual education plan) evaluation before school even started. And that’s where we got our first taste of the system. The system that doesn’t like dealing with out-of-the-box kids, that isn’t equipped to help them succeed.
I should note: I don’t hate the school system. Our local schools are quite good, and we have friends with kids in the system that do well. For our situation and our son’s needs, it just didn’t work out.
They refused to give him the IEP because “he’s so smart he’ll cope.” Sorry, “smart” can’t cope with sensory issues that sent my child screaming out of public restrooms because someone turned on a hand dryer. “Smart” doesn’t help him at all when the school rule is “no talking in the hallways” and he cannot seem to turn his mouth off. “Smart” discounts the fact that he is twice exceptional and has struggles too.
I read the rule handbook for his base school – by their rules, my child would have been expelled within 3 days. For behaviors he had no control over. It was a disaster just waiting to happen, in a state where a full 7.5 hour day was the norm.
So that was that. We were homeschooling.
Unexpectedly Homeschooling – Not Quite What Was Expected
We started off without me worrying too much about it. After all, I lived this. I knew what I was doing, right? Wrong. It turns out, trying to teach a twice exceptional student is wildly different than what I was used to. I was right: it is a ton of work. Mostly because I have to make most of his materials to accommodate the pre-reader interested in things not usually found in elementary textbooks.
On my low days I admit to how resentful I feel about the way this whole thing turned out. Before kids I was an artist. Scratch that – I’m still an artist! I just don’t have the time or energy to create anything right now. I keep hoping that magical break that I’m trying to catch is right around the corner, but the deeper we get into this homeschooling gig the more I realize I’m slipping away.
The person I am – the person I wanted to be – has become subsumed in this homeschooling mom persona that eerily resembles my mom. Homeschooling is what my child needs for his mental, physical, and educational health right now, but I’m not blind to what it has cost me personally or us as a family.
Homeschooling is a Choice – Not An Easy One
Despite being homeschooled and loving certain things about it, I never lose sight of the fact that not all homeschoolers chose this path. Not everyone wanted to make the kind of sacrifices we do, or is entirely happy about this whole thing.
Homeschoolers often feel like they have to defend homeschooling as the “best” choice to naysayers. It’s a choice. It’s not always the best choice. And for some of us, it wasn’t a choice at all.
So for those of you who secretly feel resentful and sad about how your road dragged you here, I see you. I am you. And I promise you that you won’t regret what you do to help your child succeed. Because that’s why you’re homeschooling, right?
It’s worth it. I’m living proof that all of the sacrifice, the work, and the struggles are worth it. Don’t give up.
This young man is incredibly creative and he is twice-exceptional. He makes movies, writes stories, animates, composes, records original songs, and works on other creative endeavors all day long. He is never idle, never bored. My son works from the moment he wakes up, which is usually before 7:00, and stays busy until around 10:00 at night when he finally tires out and heads to bed. Sleep usually comes an hour later when his mind finally calms down.
Most days I am in awe of all he does. It really is amazing. But it is also incredibly frustrating, and at times, overwhelming and tiring to watch. Traditional school work falls to the way side often, and when he can settle long enough to work on academics, it usually doesn’t go the way I imagine. Math is an exercise in frustration, reading hurts his head, and handwriting practice is painful. Science can be fun, history is mostly boring, but analyzing literature is a favorite. He usually has the energy to concentrate on academics for no more than 2 to 3 hours a day, a few days a week.
This is what I am working with, and I can never forget it as I homeschool him. My son is not going to school in any sort of traditional matter, and I have to remind myself of that often. He is a twice-exceptional student, and things are different for twice-exceptional kids. Their paths look different from other students. Their days look different.
Parents who are homeschooling 2E children and teens need to remind themselves of this often otherwise they may end up feeling like they are failing their children. There will be areas where their student may be behind (for my son it is math) and other areas where they have no interest at all. There will be gaps along the way and as homeschool parents we have to learn to let these gaps go because there will be other areas where they are working so enthusiastically, so passionately, that they do not have time for it all.
I have to remind myself that what my son is doing is significant (even with the gaps) and that he will find his own way. His path may be different and atypical but it is also unique and meaningful. He is creative and productive and confident and happy. And in the end isn’t that all that matters?
Are you a homeschool parent of a twice-exceptional child and looking for a support group? SEA Homeschoolers is starting a shoot-off group on Facebook. We would love to have you join us for extra support and a sharing of ideas. If you are interested please find SEA 2E here.