Friday, January 16, 2009

Red Butterflies and Gifted Children: A Doubleheader

I am assuming that all of you are like me, a Ree Drummoond, A.K.A. "Pioneer Woman" fan, yes? If you aren't, you will need to go on over and take a look at who this extremely popular woman is, but if you follow her blog at all, you know that Ree keeps her photos pretty by using blue butterflies to cover up the unloveliness of the Ranch. No poo or rocky mountain oysters in her pics...unless she *chooses* to show them.

Well, yesterday Michael was playing with Elefun, a fun battery-powered breeze-generating elephant that, when butterflies are put in the bucket, makes the butterflies fly upward through his trunk (not shown in pic) to be caught with a butterfly net.

Michael doesn't particularly like the trunk, and he has lost all of the butterflies but one red one, so that one red butterfly is very important at our house.

Michael kept loosing that butterfly yesterday and would ask for help in finding it...over and over. One of the times he lost the butterfly, I found it in a Pioneer Woman type location: right by the Elephant's tail. I had to take a pic and reflect that even red butterflies will do the trick!


The other day after posting "Homeschooling 1st - 5th Graders", Becca asked a question that I really wanted to give the time it needed to be addressed rather than just a short answer. Since I figured that there might be others in the same boat, I thought I'd answer it in a post, rather than in private.

So here is Becca's comment:

"This is really interesting. I WANT to homeschool my daughter because I guess we're already doing it, by default. But at the same time, I want her to get exposure to other people and the idea that you have rules that have to be obeyed (versus just Mom that has to be obeyed).

Rachel is reading.. I don't know what level. She's been reading for a year, so I'm mostly just concerned that she will get bored in Kindergarten and have discipline problems (this happens a lot at home when she's bored). What do you suggest?"

This is such a tricky situation. You have a gifted child: curious, and a fast-learner. There is no way to hold a child like this still and keep them from learning, nor would you want to.

I had an experience with my oldest, Josh, back when he was in the 1st grade. We had just moved to Tennessee from Utah. Josh had learned to read in kindergarten and was a pretty good reader, meaning that he could read Frog & Toad or Amelia Bedelia books without help. His 1st grade class, though, was just learning how to read.

I have to jump off here and explain a few things before I continue. In his class in TN, the kids were let watch Bear in the Big Blue House, Blues Clues, and many other t.v. shows during school, mostly at the beginning of class while some of the kids were eating breakfast in the lunchroom. Now I won’t go on a tirade and tell you how much that bothered me, but I will tell you that I had him take a book to school with him everyday and instructed him to read instead of watch t.v. Back to the story…

In the middle of the school year I went and talked with his teacher. She told me what a good student Josh was. She said that she had seen him bring books to school and it made her worried. She told me that the other kids weren’t really reading well yet, so she was afraid that Josh would get bored in school. But, she said, Josh is able to hold himself back a bit and do the same work as the other children. Now I don’t remember the exact wording that she said, but that was the gist of it. At the time I didn’t know whether to be pleased at my son “being able to hold himself back” or not. The teacher was pleased, but “holding himself back” wasn’t really a quality I was trying to develop in my son. I decided that year that I’d homeschool him the following year.

The question of what to do with a Gifted Child really is a hard one to answer. Is it best to let them stagnate awhile while their peers catch up? Should you let them work at their own pace at some educational program, whether it be at a private, public, or homeschool? Is one answer right in one situation while another is right at some other time and in some other circumstance? I don’t know.

Maybe you need to understand that the reason I homeschool. My reason doesn’t have a lot to do with the academics. Maybe it started that way, at least in part, but for me now it is a spiritual thing. I pray about homeschooling each child every year and try to find the path that I feel the Lord is instructing me to follow. So far 14 is the age that I have sent my kids to school. Josh is my only kid I’ve ever homeschooled to age 16. At 16, he and his bio-dad moved 2 hours away and I was unable to continue. He dropped out of school then and hasn’t returned. Maybe someday.

Now, I don’t believe that the only good education is a homeschool education. In fact, I am soooo thankful when my kids get a really good teacher at their charter school that they can turn to for help and guidance in that particular subject.

There are many options for education, and they all need to be looked over and pondered. There are private schools, charter schools, and public schools in addition to homeschool, and one of those might have excellent programs for gifted students.

If you really want to homeschool, that is great! But be sure and weigh all of the pros and cons. Homeschooling is a life commitment, not just an educational choice. It becomes part of every waking moment.

Also, don’t forget that you can change your mind at any time. If you try a method of schooling that just simply isn’t working, try again.

And remember to always be prayerful about what your child and your family need. Be willing to go with a different solution if that is what your gut is telling you to do. We can try to logic things out all we want, but usually the right answer is to follow our feelings.

I hope that is helpful. Every child, every parent, and every situation is just so different that I don’t think there is a “best” way, there is just a way that works best for every kid. The hard part is finding that best way.

Good luck in your quest to find the best fit for your child/ren.


  1. He He! You are forgiven. I've never seen that elephant toy... very cute idea!

  2. First post I ever read by Ree was one of her blue butterfly posts...I was hooked, lol!

    Great response to the mom of the gifted one. Boredom is a serious issue. I have found that my gifted son (now 20) tended to get quite depressed when bored. He now recognizes it and realizes that he needs to do something challenging either mentally or physically to keep his spirits up. He has taken up learning Japanese as his newest hobby...ughhh, I'm lucky to get English right, lol!!!

  3. Thank you, Melody! I have all these conflicting ideas. I'm glad you've suggested praying about it. I forget that that's an option (really, my best option) for getting something right. Thanks for all the logical stuff, too. It helps to have another point of view besides "Homeschooling is for losers." lol

  4. Becca, do people really tell you that? "Homeschool is for losers"?? That is crazy.

    My dad was really nervous of my homeschooling, though, so I understand how frustrating it can be when people aren't understanding.

    But THEY aren't raising your children, so do what you feel is right.