Posted on

An Excellent Way To Add Travel To Your Homeschool

Educational travel  is a wonderful way to foster learning. Are you looking for ways to add travel to your homeschool? This is an excellent option!

travel and your homeschool

The summer before I began high school, my parents saved up enough money for me to go on a field trip to Washington D.C. with my eighth grade gradating class. I am the eldest of four children, so I knew they had to sacrifice to allow me the opportunity. I was absolutely thrilled. 

It was a better investment than they could’ve known. The week was one of the absolute best of my childhood. We saw Lincoln’s Memorial and The Washington Monument. We saw the Declaration Of Independence, with John Hancock’s signature clearly visible from the roped off visitor area. The eternal flame still burns bright in my memory, more than 30 years later.

It was, by far, one of the most educational experiences of my life. 

travel and your homeschool

I was compensated for my time in writing and sharing this post. I only share resources that I believe work well for families like mine.

As a homeschool mom, over the years I have often thought about that trip and wondered how it might be replicable for my boys. 

Not just the sites themselves, but the tour guides and experts that we interacted with throughout the trip, and the other kids I learned alongside of.

It seemed impossible to actually capture the same level of involvement in the learning.

Then I learned about Academic Expeditions. 

travel and your homeschool

Academic Expeditions: Customizable Travel Experiences For Homeschoolers

Academic Expeditions offers customizable educational travel experiences just like what I experienced as a teen.  The good news is they are now offering homeschool specific options for expert-led educational travel!

travel and your homeschool

Why Use An Independent Company For Educational Homeschool Travel?

Not only does using this type of tour company make things easier in terms of planning, but there is an extra level of safety and security, as the guides are all well aware of the area and the accommodations carefully selected.

Academic Expeditions guides are well-trained and provide customizable educational activities for your group. 

homeschool travel

How It Works

You organize your own group of 10 or more homeschoolers and families. (If you don’t have a group of 10, Academic Expeditions also offers open group trips.) They do ALL the planning. You just show up and they take it from there. 

This includes: 

  • ROUNDTRIP AIRFARE
  • DELUXE MOTOR COACH TRANSPORTATION
  • FULL-TIME 24/7 EXPEDITION LEADER
    Academic Expeditions leaders are present during every moment of the tour for added safety, education, and sense of well-being. Their relational engagement in and in-between cities will add a sense of security and continuity to the educational information they also provide.
  • PREMIUM HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS
  • PROFESSIONAL NIGHTTIME SECURITY
    Accommodations are always in safe areas. For student groups we hire trusted private security on our floors throughout the night.
  • 3 MEALS A DAY
    Meals are all premium quality and our restaurant choices generally include a variety of historic inns, taverns, and finer dining experiences.
  • ADMISSION TO ALL ACTIVITIES AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
    Entrance fees to all museums, sites, and programming as listed on your itinerary, including evening activities such as theatrical productions (Broadway shows) and sports events (baseball games, etc).
  • NAME BADGES   (Every participant receives a personalized, laser-engraved name tag with a 24-hour emergency contact number)
  • A COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL INSURANCE PROGRAM

Academic Expeditions learning programs are accredited by educational bodies supporting middle school all the way through university level learning. 

homeschool travel

Academic Expeditions For Your Homeschool

There are several additions to the 2022 travel schedule that are specific to homeschool families

Take a look at some of the offered experiences – 

  • Costa Rica – River Rafting, Gold Museum Tour, A Visit To A Biological Reserve, A Volcano Experience,  A Volunteer Program at a Animal Wild Rescue Center, Surfing, and more.
  • Paris and Normandy – History-based heritage sites and visits to national cemeteries, the private historian tour about the Allied Forces invasion at Normandy, travel to American Cemetery, nature and art experiences, The Louvre, Versailles and more. 
  • Chicago Science Trip – A boat cruise to learn about the rivers and canals of the Chicago River System, An Architecture Tour and History of The Chicago Skyline Experience, Aquarium visit, Museum of Science and Industry, and more.
  • DC – Capitol Hill, The Supreme Court, The Library Of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, The National Mall, Mt Vernon, The Spy Museum, The Bible Museum, all Monuments, and more. (This sounds similar to the one I experienced as a child!)
  • New York City via the Subway – Empire State Building Tour, The Stature Of Liberty and Ellis Island, The 9-11 Memorial, Walk the Highline and the Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden and/or Radio City Music Hall behind the scenes tours, Free time for Times Square, Central Park, etc. plus a Broadway Show and more.

There are also many other tours to consider, including a Boston trip that looks like a great fit for my history buff son. 

homeschool travel

I want to encourage you to take a look at all Academic Expeditions has to offer. I can tell you from my own experience, this is a learning opportunity that makes a significant impact on lifelong learners!

Posted on

Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler

In this episode of The Raising Lifelong Learner’s podcast, Colleen addresses a common concern – the uncertainty of parenting and nurturing a gifted toddler. 

 
The pediatrician looked up from his checklist and asked, “how many words can she say?” and I kind of looked at him funny. “It’s okay if she’s not saying a lot right now. She’s only 18 months, so don’t panic. Language will develop over the next few months and years.”

He smiled reassuringly, and I stammered, “No-o-o-o-o. It’s not that. I just don’t think I can actually count the words she can say, so I’m not sure how to answer your question. She can say anything you or I can say.”

I could tell that, not only didn’t he believe me, but he thought I was one of those moms. Like I was trying to make my kid seem more than she was. And I couldn’t blame him, really. Molly looked like a typical toddler, running her fingers along the multicolored shape stickers on his desk, humming softly to herself.

gifted toddler

And then she stopped, turned, and spoke.

“Doctow Cat-an-zawwo? Why do you have two parallelogram stickers on the desk when you only have one of every other shape? Shouldn’t you only have one of those? Or maybe you can add another of each of the other shapes to make it even. I don’t really like when things aren’t even. And, do you have more of these stickers? Can I have some? I like shape stickers.”

The pediatrician, Dr. Catanzaro, looked at me, mouth agape, and said, “I have colleagues with whom I’ve worked for over 20 years who can’t pronounce my name that well. I guess she really can talk…” And he made some notes on his checklist.

Parenting gifted children can be full of uncertainty.

Should I push her?

What if I don’t give him what he needs?

Do I need to get her tested?

How do I know for sure?

Here’s the thing… you do know.

You’re an amazing, insightful, and perfect parent for the little guy or gal in front of you. Nurturing a gifted toddler is an adventure… so let’s develop a roadmap to help you along the way.

What Does a Gifted Toddler Look Like?

If you’re reading this post, you probably have a general idea about what a gifted toddler looks like. Right? We parents know our kids, no matter how much we collectively doubt ourselves.  There are some traits, though, that can give you a clue you might just be raising a poppy kiddo.

Remember… All gifted kiddos share some characteristics, but the very defining one — asynchrony — means that they definitely don’t look alike. So, your child may not exhibit all of these traits. It’s kind of a checklist of sorts to give you an idea of some things you might notice if your toddler is gifted.

Related: Young Gifted Children | Reflections from ParentsNurturing Gifted Toddlers

You may recognize some of these traits:

  • As infants, your kiddos became fussy if they faced the same direction for too long.
  • They were very alert and wide-eyed as babies.
  • Your toddler seems to need way less sleep than others his or her age, and did as an infant as well.
  • He or she met milestones like walking, rolling over, and talking dramatically ahead of schedule.
  • Some gifted babies and toddlers may have spoken later than most kids, but used complete sentences once speech began.
  • They expressed an acute desire to explore, take things apart, put things together, and understand their environment.
  • They often mastered their toys and games earlier than children their age, then discarded them for new games and toys.
  • He or she is very active and can be impulsive and intense.
  • They can often tell between fact and fiction early on.
  • They’re concerned with big issues early on.

Some gifted toddlers show an intense interest in numbers, letters, or other concepts. Some of our gifted toddlers will read early — that precocious 18 month old in the opening story taught herself to read by three. Some won’t, and that’s okay, too. My oldest kiddo (who’s been identified as profoundly gifted) didn’t read until much, much later, and still chooses to read books below his age level.

What Are Some of the Challenges That Come with Raising Young Gifted Kids?

Gifted toddlers, like all gifted individuals, are asynchronous. This asynchrony gives you a kiddo who might be intellectually ready to solve problems and build things, but who lacks the fine motor skills and planning to be able to pull it all off.

One of the biggest challenges is to find activities that are age-appropriate, but still advanced enough for a gifted kiddo. Though, an often underestimated challenge can be the puzzled, judgmental, and knowing looks that come from family, friends, and strangers. The challenge of being misunderstood or accused of hothousing — or “pushing” your child to perform.

My friend compared raising her young, profoundly gifted daughter to being stapled to a cheetah. She’s just holding on for dear life as that little bundle of inquisitiveness drags her along for the ride.

And the intensity. Oh, boy.

Gifted kiddos — including your precious toddler — can be very intense. Those intensities can be:

  • emotional – high highs, low lows… and a mixture of both at the same time with extremes and complexities.
  • physical – those big emotions take on physical symptoms with our bright tots… tummy aches, headaches, and more.
  • behavioral – shyness, separation anxiety, overconfidence, being too comfortable with strangers, ultra impulsive, deep inhibition, the list (and contradictions) goes on.

Gifted toddlers can have deep fears and anxieties. They feel guilt, concerned about death, like they’re not in control, and can seem deeply thoughtful or depressed. They can have deep emotional ties to people, places, or things.

Related: Gifts for Children with AnxietyNurturing Your Gifted Toddler

How Do You Nurture Giftedness in Toddlers?

The best advice I can give — after raising four toddlers (gifted and twice-exceptional) is to relax and trust your gut. Really.

Forget about what everyone else says.

Forget all the parenting books (they’re not going to apply to you anyway).

Forget about what’s “normal.”

Follow your kid. Meet your child where he or she is and help them find new ways to learn every single day. It’s exactly what all parents do for their toddlers. It just looks a little different for parents of gifted toddlers.

One of my eldest’s (now 15) first words was Macedonia. As in, “let’s go to Macedonia to watch trains.” He was obsessed with trains. He watched kids’ shows and documentaries and old news reels about trains. He listened to books about trains. He knew the history of the railroad and all the different important trains from all of history before he was four. He couldn’t yet read. He barely drew. He was impulsive and inattentive at his daycare. He wouldn’t sit still unless someone was sharing something about trains — though not the kids’ trains with faces. He had no use for those.

This went beyond a little guy’s interest in trains. He needed to know it all. So we fed him books, movies, toys, and trips to the trainyard in Macedonia. We sat by the tracks for hours, waiting for one train to pass, sharing snacks and train stories. Today he doesn’t remember all that he once knew, but he still adores trains and gets together with my father-in-law and his train buddies regularly to work on model railroad layouts and talk about the good ole days of the steamers.

I didn’t worry about meeting his potential and I didn’t feed him flashcards and workbooks.

But, guess what?

I did shower my now 10 year old with workbooks, worksheets, and flashcards as a toddler. That 18 month-old who stood but a minute off the floor as she peered at the pediatrician and asked for shape stickers adored nothing more than sitting at “her” desk (a tot-sized table in the kitchen) and banging out workbook pages. She taught herself to read by three. She cried at two when she realized that she was not getting on the big yellow school bus with her brother.

So we enrolled her in a 2yo preschool that met one morning each week. And she begged for more school. So we signed her up for another day at a different preschool so she could have two mornings of “school” and three mornings of “homeschool” while big brother was gone during the week.

Many accused me of hothousing that kiddo (pumping her full of info so she seemed smart), but I was just trying to keep her insatiable thirst quenched.

Two gifted toddlers.

Two very different needs.

If I were to have given that first one workbooks and flashcards, he would have rebelled and fought me every step of the way. If I were to have only fed the second one books, videos, and trips to a favorite place, she would have withered.

Related: 101 Reasons Eclectic Homeschooling Works for Gifted Kids Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler

Trust yourself that you know your toddler better than anyone else does and give him or her exactly what they need. Explore language and numbers, science and nature, communities and laws together. Ask loads of questions and answer all of theirs. Make it a point to look up answers together sometimes — it’s important from early on that your gifted kiddo see that you don’t have all the answers and that you’re not afraid to admit it. Play lots of music in the house. Take your little ones to free outdoor concerts and performances during the spring and summer so they can get an early appreciation for the arts. Experiment with as many different types of art mediums as you can with them when they’re young.

Buy open-ended gifts for all occasions. Line your walls with books. Play games early and often. Ask for family memberships to museums and zoos instead of toys your gifted kiddo will lose interest in for holiday gifts from relatives.

Remember that you’re the perfect parent for your gifted kiddo. You really do know what your child is capable of and needs. You may be in for a wild ride now that you find yourself raising a gifted toddler, but it’ll never be dull.

And when you’re little one shows what he or she is capable of — whether it’s to a stunned pediatrician, a family member, a friend, or a stranger on the playgroup — it’s okay to puff out your chest and say that yes, you do know how amazing he or she is. Talking in full sentences at 18 months is fantastic. Reading at three is amazing. Knowing the detailed history surrounding all steam, diesel, and mag-lev trains by four is awesome.

Be proud and let your kiddos hear you say that they’re amazing and you’re absolutely amazed to be their parent. The more you get used to it now when they’re toddlers, the easier it’ll be as they get older and need to hear you bragging about them. You’ve got this.

nurturing your gifted child

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #129: Nurturing Your Gifted Toddler

 

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Parents' Guide to Raising a Gifted Toddler: Recognizing and Developing the Potential of Your Child from Birth to Five Years

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing MindExciting Sensory Bins for Curious Kids: 60 Easy Creative Play Projects That Boost Brain Development, Calm Anxiety and Build Fine Motor SkillsParenting a Strong-Willed Child: How to Effectively Raise High Spirited Children or ToddlersThe Rainy Day Toddler Activity Book: 100+ Fun Early Learning Activities for Inside Play (Toddler Activity Books)The Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity: Games, Projects, and Pastimes That Encourage a Child's Learning and Imagination100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: Become an Expert on Bugs, Beetles, Worms, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Plants and MoreRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyThe Ultimate Toddler Activity Guide: Fun & educational activities to do with your toddler (Early Learning)Teach My Toddler Learning KitThe Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

 

Posted on

Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

Colleen answers a frequently asked question today on the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast: How do you help siblings understand when one child has anxiety? This episode is all about helping anxious children and their siblings.

 
 

Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

Anxiety and Gifted/Twice Exceptional Children

We all experience anxiety at some point or another.  Worrying and stress is a natural part of being human. 

Anxiety is also quite common in the world of neurodiversity. For gifted children and twice exceptional kids, worrying and stress can be intense and overwhelming,

Among profoundly gifted children, anxiety can manifest in multiple ways. For example, students may have fears about being away from their parents that decreases participation in extracurricular activities and social events. Given their propensity for perfectionism, profoundly gifted children can manifest fears of failure and go to unrealistic lengths to have their products be free of errors. If given corrective feedback, they may have trouble “turning off” these messages and begin to believe there is something “wrong” with them. Other profoundly gifted children may have fears of being in public or in large groups and avoid such situations. In some cases, the children’s fear response can be quite intense, overwhelming, and scary. 

The Davidson Institute

For most of us, this is just part of our lives as parents of gifted and twice exceptional children.

But what happens when your child is experiencing anxiety that goes far beyond the norm, and begins to influence family dynamics and sibling relationships?

Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

 

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #128: Helping Anxious Children And Their Siblings

In this helpful and encouraging episode, Colleen shares examples and solutions for helping your entire family navigate your gifted child’s anxiety, 

 

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Raising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent Family

Helping Your Anxious Child: a Step-by-Step Guide for ParentsWorking with Worry: A Workbook for Parents on How to Support Anxious ChildrenAnxious Mom, Anxious Child: A Mother's Journey from Anxiety to SerenityFreeing Your Child from Anxiety, Revised and Updated Edition: Practical Strategies to Overcome Fears, Worries, and Phobias and Be Prepared for Life--from Toddlers to TeensRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenUnderstanding Your Anxious Child: A parents guide to helping kids overcome their fears and anxiety to live a carefree childhoodAnxiety Relief for Kids: On-the-Spot Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Worry, Panic, and AvoidancThe Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activitis to Nurture Developing Minds (Practical Excercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture)

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

 

Posted on

7 Executive Functioning Activities for Small Children

The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, scarves, and hats were strewn all over the floor — right next to the shelves and hooks on which they belonged. When I told my kids to bring their things to the basement, I wasn’t specific enough, I guess.

I didn’t help them scaffold and build their executive functioning skills and so, while I was frustrated, it was mostly with myself.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children-The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, and hats were all over... I was frustrated with the lack of executive functioning skills my kids displayed.

What is Executive Function?

The official definition of executive functions is that they are a set of processes that have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

To help your child develop proper executive function skills you must be willing to allow your child to fail.

You need to give your kiddo a chance to figure things out for himself. If your child is attempting something that you know he can do then step back. However, this needs to be balanced with helping when necessary so the child doesn’t get too frustrated.

Basically, parent your child to be autonomous.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children

 

Activities for Young Children to Aid Executive Function Skills

Ask your child explain or teach you something. When you know something well enough you can teach it to someone else. This skill shows not only understanding of order but memory. Pick something simple such as making a sandwich or how to wash a dish.

Play games. Games provide an opportunity to exercise memory, order, and following rules in a low stress and fun way.

      

&

Use a multisensory approach when assigning tasks. Orally explain task such as a bedtime routine to your child. If your child is old enough to read, then write the routine down. If not, create a pictorial routine. You may want to explain the routine while playing hopscotch or throwing a ball back and forth.

Encourage flexible thinking. Take an ordinary object and ask your child what it can be used for. Try to encourage your child to come up with as many out of the box ideas as possible.

Use simple worksheets to practice following directions. Puzzles, activities, and worksheets help little ones scaffold their direction following so that they can eventually follow multi-step directions without getting hung up. Try simple worksheets like the one below to practice on. (You can download your own copy of this worksheet for free by clicking the download now button and entering your email address. It will come right to your inbox.)

 

Wordplay. Another way to encourage flexible thinking is with wordplay. You can create puns, read Amelia Bedelia books together, or tell silly jokes.

Encourage organization simply. If your child has a terrible time keeping her room organized, then provide simple solutions. Provide supply caddies and tote boxes that are clearly marked. For instance, put stuffed animals in one tote and shoes in another or whatever works for you. Use a supply caddy for art supplies so your child can easily see when something is out of place and correct it.

Simple steps that are visual can help a child practice organization.

Got any other tips for teaching little ones executive functioning skills? Share in the comments.

For more great parenting tips check these out:

      

&

Posted on

Twice Exceptional Children And Homeschooling: What It’s Really Like

There are a lot of misconceptions about twice exceptional children and homeschooling. In this episode of the Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast, Colleen shares what it’s really like to homeschool a twice exceptional child, both as a gifted education specialist and a homeschooling parent.

 
 

twice exceptional kids

 

Twice Exceptional Defined

Twice exceptional is the label given to kids that are identified as gifted and also have a learning difficulty of some sort. Some may have learning disabilities, anxiety issues, Tourette Syndrome, ADD with or without hyperactivity, sensory processing disorders, while others may suffer from anxiety disorders or depression. The combinations are varied, as are the “symptoms” that lead to a diagnosis… or misdiagnosis. 

Because of the complexities of both giftedness and learning differences combined, twice exceptional children often struggle in the traditional school environment. 

twice exceptional kids

Twice Exceptional Children And Homeschooling

Because of the unique abilities and needs of a twice exceptional learner, I believe that homeschooling is a wonderful option and is often the “best fit” educationally.

It allows parents to become students of their own children and put together an educational plan that is tailor-made for their child.

twice exceptional and homeschooling

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #127: What It’s Really Like To Homeschool A Twice Exceptional Child

Colleen shares what it’s really like to homeschool a twice exceptional child, from her perspective as a gifted specialist and as a homeschooling mom.

 
 

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Raising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent Family

Raising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for Children100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: Become an Expert on Bugs, Beetles, Worms, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Plants and MoreTwice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted StudentsMisdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition)Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsHome Learning Year by Year, Revised and Updated: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool CurriculumHomeschooling Gifted Kids: A Practical Guide to Educate and Motivate Advanced LearnersThe Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System - and How to Fix It

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!

Posted on

What’s The Difference Between Interest-Led and Strength Based Learning?

 
In this special episode of the Raising Lifelong Learner’s Podcast, Shawna Wingert shares valuable information about getting started with strength-based learning in your homeschool. She also answers a frequently asked question: What is the difference between interest-led and strength-based learning?

interest-led and strength based learning

What’s The Difference Between Interest-Led and Strength Based Learning?

“Interest-led learning is just what it sounds like – letting a child’s interests lead the learning process.” The homeschoolmom.com

This is a simple, but accurate definition of interest-led learning. This type of learning involves taking whatever your child is interested in and using it as the basis for their learning activities.

For example, a child interested in cars might read books about transportation and watch You Tube videos about electric energy.

The interest itself defines the educational choices in your homeschool.

Related: Interest-Led Learning and Your Gifted Child

interest-led and strength based

What Is Strength Based Learning?

Strength based learning certainly includes interest as a part of the approach, but it based on a more holistic look at the child.

Three factors typically make up a strength-based approach:

  1. Academic subjects of natural strength
  2. Interests
  3. Learning Style (i.e. visual, tactile, auditory, etc..)

Strength based learning combines the three and then uses them for a large majority of the learning.

Essentially, the formula for strength based learning looks something like this:

Academic Ares Of Strength + Interests Of Child + Child’s Learning Style = A Strength Based Approach To Learning

interest-led and strength based

Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast #126 : What Is The Difference Between Interest-Led and Strength- Based Learning?

Join us in this episode where we answer this question in much more depth and provide concrete examples of strength-based learning in practice.

 

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs: Practical Support And Encouragement For Learning With Differences

Different By Design Learning: Strength Based Learning Plan WorkbookNow, Discover Your Strengths: The revolutionary Gallup program that shows you how to develop your unique talents and strengthsStrengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People FollowParenting Chaos: Practical Support And Encouragement For Parents Of Explosive ChildrenHOMESCHOOLING YOUR CHILD WITH SENSORY NEEDS: A practical guide to helping your child learn with sensory processing disorderRaising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for ChildrenRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyThe Big Book of Kids Activities: 500 Projects That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever

 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


Posted on

Emotional Overexcitability And Gifted Kids (what you need to know)

One of my favorite movies will forever be Mean Girls. I had no idea when I was quoting it as a teenager that I’d still be quoting it as an adult, but here we are. Glen Coco and fetch and grool – they all have their place in my daily speech, but the line that comes up most often now that I’m raising an intense poster child for emotional overexcitability is most definitely, “I just have a lot of feelings.

I’ll give you a second to shout, “She doesn’t even go here!” before I move on. That scene, that poor girl, her hair plastered to her face with fresh tears, her wrinkled paper grasped fervently with both tightened fists, the eyebrows so subject to emotion that they were almost vertical — that is my daughter. She definitely wishes we could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles, and she most definitely has a lot of feelings.

overexcitabilities and gifted child

Emotional overexcitability is a term that comes from Kazimier Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration. There are five overexcitabilities — or OEs — in all, each describing what is basically a super sensitivity, a heightened characteristic, or intense need experienced in gifted individuals. Emotional OE is, as you can guess, really intense emotions.

Really intense emotions.

ReallyDeeply. Overwhelming. Consuming.

Often uncontrollable emotions.

Emotional overexcitability is easy enough to take notice of. The child who is so nervous they make themselves sick. The child who doesn’t want you to leave because they’re so attached to you. The daughter who screams when her brothers laugh at her. The child who hides behind the couch and sobs when Bing Bong disappears in Inside Out. The child who wakes up at 2:30 am every single night just to come get a reassuring hug. The child who cries two months after watching a movie where a character was bullied. The daughter who clings to you, soaked with tears, and cannot stop crying because she just loves you really much. The child who takes offense, builds strong attachments, leaps with joy, holds grudges out of pain and forgives quickly out of hope. The daughter who cries daily, hourly, but also laughs loudly, deeply. The child who is compassionate, angry, loving, fearful, frustrated, annoyed, embarrassed, elated. The child who just has a lot of feelings.

All of those are my daughter. Yes, even the snuggles at 2:30 in the morning. Every night.

Related: Overexcitabilities and Why They Matter for Gifted Kidsemotional overexcitability

Emotional Overexcitability And Gifted Kids (what you need to know)

Emotional overexcitability is easy to spot, but that also makes it easy to dismiss. “Overreacting” is a term that gets tossed around a lot, and “drama queen” is a title she’s come to bear proudly. How could a child really feel this intensely about a character they’ve never met, when we both know it’s fictional? She must like the attention, right? She just has no control over herself, surely? Eye rolls abound, even, admittedly, from me.

Deep sighs.

Dismissals.

These children are waved off as melodramatic, high-strung, histrionic, as just being too much. Sometimes an emotional overexcitability is even viewed through the lens of pathology, as a symptom, as something needing to be fixed. Emotional dysregulation and disorders get tossed around and many gifted children are misdiagnosed when really they just have a lot of feelings.

Our society, our culture, is not one that embraces intense emotions. Not regularly, and not from children, anyway. Girls are dismissed as “drama queens” and boys are told to “man up.” Intense, raw emotions are very uncomfortable for the people in their proximity.

Heck, they’re sometimes just loud.

The Reality Of Living With Overexcitabilities For A Gifted Child

But consider the discomfort of the child overcome with so much feeling that they cannot hold it inside their little body. Consider how unnerving it is to be so engulfed with an emotion they may not even fully understand. “Why are you crying? What’s wrong?” I ask my daughter, then three years old. “I don’t know! I just love you really much!” Her feelings were so big, so deep, so overwhelming, all-encompassing, and alarming that all she could do was cry and bury her face in my chest. Because she loves me. It sounds precious and sweet and I definitely have a video of it saved on my phone forever, but it’s also painful. It’s scary. It’s too much to have just so many feelings.

I wish I could say I was always empathetic and patient when it comes to her emotional overexcitability. Every day that she cries (which is, actually, every day), I cry, too.

It’s exhausting.

It’s draining.

I’ll admit, it’s annoying. Not every mole hill needs to be made into a mountain and sometimes it would be nice to get through a meal without tears, eruptions, or accusations of being a diva. I have to prepare her or shield her when it comes to movies, tv shows, books, stuffed animals with loose seams, anything on the Discovery Channel, other peoples’ potential reactions, pajamas she’s outgrown, the straw that was accidentally eaten by the garbage disposal, the possibility of losing a game, the impending move, and interaction with her brother and his own emotional OE. That’s right – emotional overexcitability shows no preference when it comes to gender, and it definitely doesn’t decide one person in a family is enough. My own intense reactions to her, my own tears, my own fears, attachments, and annoyance at her passion and fervency… I may have my own struggles with emotional OE. My husband refuses to look me in the eye when I ask him about it, though, so we may never no for sure.

Related: Help Your Intense Child Regulate Emotions Easily emotional overexcitability

Emotional overexcitability, it’s a lot.

It’s hard.

It’s consuming and irritating and loud and as unpredictable as it is predictable. Every hill is the one she chooses to die on, and each battle is intensified by my own intense reactions. And for whatever reason, the seemingly bottomless stores of empathy found in a child with an emotional OE appear to dry up when you beg and plead with them to just calm down.

Because they can’t.

They just can’t.

Their emotions, their feelings, fill so much of them that you may as well ask them to stop being short or to never be hungry again. These intense emotions are a part of who they are and cannot be shut off simply because they’re inconvenient, uncomfortable, embarrassing, or annoying. Telling an emotionally intense child to calm down, as I’m sure you’ve experienced by now, actually only makes the situation worse by dismissing their very real feelings, and potentially giving them reason to fear their inability to shut them down. Their feelings are their experiences, and they need to be felt, need to be acknowledged. If an emotion is overwhelming a child, empower him by allowing him to talk about it. An emotionally intense child who is made to feel ashamed for the intensity of his feelings will feel that shame intensely. An emotionally intense child who is heard with empathy and patience will learn how to identify what it is they’re experiencing and, while it won’t temper the ferocity of those feelings, it will keep them from feeling as though they are out of control, in danger, or broken.

“But how can someone so smart just freak out like that?” Our society has mistakenly been operating under the belief that intelligence and emotions are mutually exclusive. We’re told to follow our hearts but listen to our brains. Crying during an argument is viewed as weakness rather than passion. Somewhere along the way we began to believe that someone should know better than to react so emotionally, as though our emotions were so easily controlled or so far-removed from logic. Emotions are chemical reactions that take place in the brain – they are neighbors, roommates with wisdom, knowledge, thought. Emotion cannot be removed from intelligence, and an emotionally intense person cannot be expected to “know better” than to react intensely. No one will ever be too smart to feel – emotional overexcitability actually means that someone feels so much because they’re so smart. A brain that processes more will experience more, and that includes emotions.

It’s tough, I know. I’m in the trenches, knee-deep in soggy tissues and surrounded by mountains of stuffed animals that all have unique names and personalities and can never, ever be parted with. I can try and paint emotional overexcitability as a gift, wax poetic about deep connections and world-changing empathy, but the truth is that it’s draining, depleting, exasperating, exhausting. It’s overwhelming for both parent and child. It’s not a sign that your child is broken, it’s not a sign that your child isn’t thinking, it’s not always a gift but it’s definitely not a curse. It just means that your kiddo just has a lot of feelings.

Posted on

Is Your Homeschooled Child Profoundly Gifted?

 
Wondering if your child is profoundly gifted? What does profoundly gifted even mean? In this episode, Colleen discusses how to determine if your child falls into the profoundly gifted category. She also shares the reality of homeschooling a profoundly gifted child.

profoundly gifted child

Homeschooling my oldest has always been a curious mix of interests and intellect. What I have learned along the way is this is simply the nature of homeschooling a profoundly gifted child. This is a unique and sometimes, complicated journey and one that I am happy to share with you today.

Is Your Homeschooled Child Profoundly Gifted?

One of the questions I am most often asked is, “How do I know if my child is profoundly gifted?”

In this episode, I share many of the qualities that typically present in profoundly gifted children. Some of the most common include:

  • learning basic skills quickly and with little practice.
  • constructing and handling abstractions easily.
  • picking up nonverbal cues and drawing inferences that are tough for children their age to see.
  • taking little for granted, preferring to know the ‘”hows” and “whys.”
  • wildly eclectic and intensely focused on their interests.

profoundly gifted child

RLL Episode 125: Is Your Child Profoundly Gifted?

Lean more about the most common attributes of profoundly gifted children in today’s episode.  I also discuss what it is like, in the day to day practicalities of homeschooling a profoundly gifted child. 

 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?

On the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted ChildrenMisdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition)Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive FeelingsRaising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent FamilyTeaching Gifted Children: Success Strategies for Teaching High-Ability LearnersSuccess Strategies for Parenting Gifted Kids: Expert Advice From the National Association for Gifted ChildrenTwice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted StudentsUnderstanding Your Gifted Child From the Inside Out

 
 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


 

Posted on

Can Giftedness Be Difficult To Uncover In Our Children?

Giftedness is so often disguised in our brightest kiddos. In this episode, Colleen explains how even as an expert in the field, her son’s giftedness was difficult for her to uncover. Practical and encouraging, you don’t want to miss this honest look at giftedness in children.

 
 

giftedness disguised

Can Giftedness Be Difficult To Uncover In Our Children?

Contrary to popular myths and misunderstandings, gifted kids (and adults) are not just the answer-givers, rule-followers, and quiet reflectors. They are also the challengers, rule-breakers, contradictors, and vocal opposition to the status quo. They can be trouble makers and significantly challenging for the adults in their lives.

gifted child

Maybe I’m Just A Bad Parent

So many parents  think they’re doing something wrong. That there’s something wrong with their parenting. That there’s something wrong with their kiddo.

There’s not.

They’re not.

YOU’RE not.

gifted child is worried

RLL Episode 123: Is Your Child’s Giftedness Disguised?

In this episode, Colleen explains what it was like to uncover her own son’s giftedness and the reasons why giftedness is often disguised in our children. 

 

Links and Resources from Today’s Show:

Raising Resilient Sons: A Boy Mom's Guide to Building a Strong, Confident, and Emotionally Intelligent Family

Success Strategies for Parenting Gifted Kids: Expert Advice From the National Association for Gifted ChildrenMisdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition)On the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted ChildrenEmotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive FeelingsThe Gifted Kids Workbook: Mindfulness Skills to Help Children Reduce Stress, Balance Emotions, and Build ConfidenceLiving With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and AdultsRaising Gifted Children: A Practical Guide for Parents Facing Big Emotions and Big PotentialUnderstanding Your Gifted Child From the Inside OutParenting Gifted Children: The Authoritative Guide from the National Association for Gifted ChildrenTwice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted StudentsHelping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers (2nd edition)

 

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really does help — and it’s easy!

    • Click THIS link to go to the podcast main page.
    • Click on View in iTunes under the podcast cover artwork.
    • Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! Thanks so much.

Want to record your own question, comment, or have your kids tell us what they LOVE to learn about? Click below and start recording!


 

Posted on

Every Book List You Will Ever Need For Your Homeschool!

Sometimes, we just need a little help finding the right books for our homeschool. This compilation of book lists is essentially every book list you will ever need all in one place!

children's books for homeschooling

Book Lists For Every Month Of The Year

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of January

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of February 

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of March

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of April   

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of May

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of June

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of July

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of August

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of September

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of October

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of November

Great Books To Read With Your Kids In The Month Of December

kids reading

12 Exceptional Book Lists To Help You Homeschool By Subject

Awesome Books For Kids Who Love Nature

Books For Animal Lovers 

Books For Insect Lovers 

Must Have STEAM Books

Great Books For Independent Learners

Great Math Books That Aren’t Textbooks

Finding Books For Gifted Learners 

101 Reasons You Need Audiobooks In Your Homeschool

Books To Help Kids Learn About Geology

Fantastic Books For Plant Lovers

Family Favorite Christmas Books

Activity Books For Learning History 

reading to our kids in homeschool

8 Excellent Book Lists For Social Emotional Learning

Books To Help Kids Who Worry 

Books To Inspire Kindness And Thankfulness

Books With Quirky Characters

Books To Help Your Kids Learn Mindfulness At Home

Books That Teach Character

Books To Help Kids Learn About Autism 

Books To Teach Executive Function Skills

Books To Help Kids Learn About Anger

mom reading with child

In my homeschool, having access to book lists like all of these has made all the difference. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I want to support reading together in our learning.

I simply pull up a book list by topic, subject, or time of year and we are essentially ready to go!

These books lists will help you find just what you need, when you need it, in your homeschool.

Take a trip to the library, load up, and happy reading!