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Miss "I'm in Charge of My School", FieldTripFactory.com, Reluctantly Gifted

By Lynn Hogan

Added Friday, August 19, 2005

============================================================
The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
============================================================
Vol. 6 No 33   August 19, 2005
ISSN: 1536-2035
==========================================================
Copyright (c) 2000-2005 Lynn Hogan. All Rights Reserved.
============================================================

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook.

If you like this newsletter, recommend it to a friend! We all
need to be helping each other with our schools!

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==============
IN THIS ISSUE:
==============
Notes from Lynn:
-- Becoming Miss "I'm In Charge of MY SCHOOL"
Helpful Hints
-- A Field Trip Locater
Question of the Week:
-- Your Biggest "Hit" in Homeschooling
Reader's Response
-- Help for a Parent of an Underachiever

=================
NOTES FROM LYNN
=================

Things are very different now then when I first began my
homeschooling journey. I know that there are still some areas
of this country and others where homeschooling is almost
unheard of. When I began, there were a couple dozen publishers
willing to sell to homeschoolers. Since then, some of them have
come and gone. Others, MANY others have sprung up in their
place.

When I first started, it was a BIG DEAL to get together with a
few other families and go on a field trip. Some facilities
would not even let us come unless they could incorporate our
"group" into a traditional field trip from a more traditional
school. Now many facilities allow or even encourage us to come.
Ah yes, so much has changed. Now there are co-ops, support
groups, associations and so much more. Now you have
opportunities to serve and be served by so many different
venues. Isn't that FANTASTIC?

The answer to that is yes and no. (There she goes again, I hear
you sigh!) If you are someone that knows what you want to do
and are confident in your abilities as a homeschooling parent,
then each opportunity that gets presented to you goes through
your "I'm in charge of my school" filter. You know what will
benefit your children. You KNOW that you are studying Ancient
Egypt this year and that a trip to the fire station will
probably do nothing to reinforce that material. So you might
turn down that activity. A trip to the historical museum with
another group might be "just the ticket" for YOUR SCHOOL though.
Your "I'm in charge" filter keeps you thinking about what is
best for YOUR SCHOOL with the amount of TIME you have and the
needs of your homeschool.

Now, Miss "I'm New and I Don't Want My Children to Miss Anything
and I Don't Want to Fail and Everyone Must know Better Than Me
About Homeschooling" will react to those same opportunities in
a totally different way. (I WAS this mom, by the way - Don't
feel bad if you are or have been there!) Her filter says that
EVERYTHING that is offered must be best for my child because
someone smarter than me is offering it! She drags her children
to every event and listens to EVERY homeschooling mom tell her
what is best. Then Miss long name above doubts her
homeschooling approach and begins to consider changing her
curriculum until she talks to the next mom that is using
something else and then considers changing to her curriculum
and the cycle continues on and on. This uncurbed cycle causes
confusion in HER SCHOOL and the mom and her children are
continuously frustrated and unsure of themselves. Not a lot of
actual schooling gets done because she is too busy trying to
adapt to the latest suggestion from another parent.

So how do I go from being the second mom to being more of the
first mom? First of all, some of us will NEVER become
COMPLETELY Miss I Am In Charge. My goal is not to be perfect
but to have the best experience for MY FAMILY. Recognizing that
perfection is something that will probably NEVER happen in your
lifetime might be a good thing. I homeschooled my children for
12 + years. I have literally spoken to hundreds of
homeschoolers both before and since, and I have to tell you,
there are perfect MOMENTS but NO perfect schools.

Set your goals, set your sails and begin to move in the
direction YOU feel like is appropriate for your school. Look
for things that will ENCOURAGE YOU in the journey. If Grandma
Jones remembers something about slavery and you are studying
that this year, plug into Grandma. If an opportunity comes up
to go to the fire station, ask yourself how this will help your
student to better understand the Civil War or slavery or
anything else that you had set as priorities this year. If the
answer is hard to find, pass on that opportunity and look for
another.

Sometimes you need to "fake it until you make it" in certain
things. Bad expression, but sometimes you have to try and stick
with something for a reasonable period of time (one week is
usually not a reasonable amount of time) before you give up.
Curriculums, schedules and plans can all be changed as
necessary, but if you do not give you and your students time to
settle into working within a situation, life will be harder.
Try trusting yourself. You might be amazed how well you and
your school will progress this year.

I walked into my homeschooling experience with fear and
trembling. If you are doing the same, that's okay. Twelve plus
years down the road, I can tell you that some of the fear and
trembling never goes away until your children are on their own.
Looking back there are things I would have done differently,
yes, but my children are doing well and I know that I did my
BEST. Do YOUR best and you will see that evidenced in your
children! You CAN DO THIS!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

=======================
HELPFUL TIPS:
=======================

Here is a link to free field trips in your area. They give you in
your area and surrounding areas. They are homeschool friendly!!!
You have to go in groups to take advantage of these wonderful
field trips.

www.fieldtripfactory.com

========================
ASK YOUR QUESTION
========================

I am always looking for great activities, websites, etc. My
children are all over the place in learning styles and ages, so
keeping up with great activities that most of them can do can
be a challenge. I'd like to ask your readers that if there was
ONE activity that has been the biggest "hit" of your school
(past or present), what was it? I know you don't have lots of
space, but I think this would be helpful for many readers
besides me. - Francine

========================
YOUR RESPONSE
========================

NOTE: my publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product or an activity. You make your own
decisions about how these responses might work in YOUR school!

---
I have a gifted 10 year old who doesn't want to be gifted. While
she is working above grade level, she has no motivation to
excel and does the least amount of schoolwork she can get away
with. How do I spark her motivation and desire to learn? How
can I make school exciting?

---
I wonder if somewhere along the way, someone said something to
her to plant the seed that being a smart girl is bad or uncool,
or nerdy. Or if someone simply told her she was not smart, and
she held on to that. Most gifted children are very sensitive
to conversations about their abilities. And if too much energy
is spent on what she could do if she only tried, they start to
feel like it is only what they are able to do that makes them
special. Not who they are. I suggest you do the opposite of
what you are doing. Don't try to make school exciting, see
what she thinks is exciting and make it part of school. If she
is interested in animals, spend a lot of time at the Zoo,
volunteer at the animal shelter, play zoo tycoon on the
computer, whatever gets her interest. And just because someone
doesn't want to write about something, doesn't make it "not
count." I remember everything about when my children were born.
I never journaled about it, or kept a log book or wrote a
report. But the experience is firmly a part of my existence,
and I will never forget it. Field trips don't have to be
written about to be learning experiences. In a classroom, a
teacher needs that written report to know what the child's
experience was only because she has 20 or more students to keep
up with. You get to know what your child's experience was like
by talking to her, and being with her. And if she seems bored,
she probably is. With a gifted child, sometimes you have to
learn to let go of what you think learning should be, and let
them go with it. They learn in completely different ways than
what we attribute to the norm. Spend the next few weeks
reading some good books on being gifted. Join an online
homeschooling gifted kids list. Find others who are teaching a
gifted child... and remember that gifted doesn't mean higher
performing... it just has to do with how a child learns. - JoEllyn

---
I would encourage this mother to listen carefully to the
messages her daughter is giving her. Has she inadvertently said
or done anything to suggest to her daughter that she only loves
or cares about her if she is gifted and doing outstanding work?
In "getting after her" to do schoolwork, has she accidentally
put so much pressure on her that she feels that the schoolwork
matters more than her, the daughter?

Gifted children are still children. They need to feel that they
are loved for themselves, for the goofy silly things they do as
well as the brilliant academics. It can be easy for parents to
get too focused on their achievements.

Many children then react as this child does - saying she wants
to be "average" so that all the focus won't be on her
giftedness. She may also feel that she can't EVER do enough -
she's already working above grade level, but her mother wants
more - so she gives up and doesn't try anymore.

Being gifted should be a source of pleasure to a child - the
pleasure of being able to learn and discover new ideas easily.
It shouldn't feel like a burden. Often the "educational"
components to an activity are simply boring to a bright child,
who has already absorbed and learned the concepts behind the
activity. It's like taking a child who already knows how to
read fluently, and asking him to sound out each word in a story
for you. It makes the story boring and frustrates the child.

I'd suggest stepping back a bit and giving this little girl some
space to discover what things interest her and what she'd like
to learn. Typically, when gifted children find something that
interests them, they want to understand the topic in depth and
they race ahead in their learning. It may not be the direction
the parent had in mind, though! - Teresa





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