Making our own Community and some Friendships, too







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We are a homeschooling family. We began to homeschool when my daughter was ready for kindergarten but was too young to go.  It worked out well academically for our gifted 2e kiddo, so we continued on, and I enjoyed teaching her at home.  But being that my daughter was an only, and also gifted, my husband and I were concerned about her chances to make friendships and feel a part of a community.

Over the years, we  encouraged her to try a bunch of extra curricular community activities.  This helped my intense, bright, and very active little one to build social skills, and make friends. We picked out activities that she might be interested in, and looked for intellectual peers, too.

In our area, the homeschool groups were inconsistent, so we looked more for community groups. We did a few preschool groups when she was young, from the parks department.  Our little one was shy around her peers, but loved the routine of going to class and participating there.

When she was 5, we found a music class that turned a good fit for her, for two reasons.  It was small and it involved a lot of movement activities, too.


Music class was our daughter's first community group experience and she loved going there.  She was a shy child and mostly enjoyed the kids just by being together, doing the activities.  It was as a great place for her to check out the other kids and just be a part of the group.  And since it involved movement activities, my active kid felt at home.  

So we continued offering her different community groups.  She wanted ballet, so we tried that, then a dance class or two, just for her to be around other kids, and see how they interacted in the groups. She learned a lot by being out with her peers and joining in the activities.  

Then for my kiddo who was always doing handstands off the couch, we tried a gymnastics class.  This turned out to be a godsend for her.  First, it was a wonderful physical release, and really helped with any anxiety that she felt during the day. Gymnastics was a real hit, as my daughter was very active, a bit like ADHD, and the tumbling, etc was a wonderful way for her to release her energy. 

But it was much more than that. It turned out that doing physical activities became a way that she could relate to other kids, and it didn't then matter to her whether they were on the same intellectual level or not.  Tumbling and doing gymnastics moves was their way of playing with each other.  

Being together in the class was something that she looked forward to each week.  And she was developing her social skills there, just by being in class, and figuring out how to interact with the other kids there.  Then friendships started to develop.


The fact that they were not at her intellectual level really didn't bother her.  She tended to make friends, with those kids who were at her emotional level, more than her intellectual level. One of her friends was two years younger, but they were fast friends.  She wanted to do some things outside of class with this friend, too, and she became her first best friend.

Intellectually, she was way ahead of them, but since they were busy doing the physical activities together, it really wasn't a major issue. She got a lot of intellectual stimulation from her homeschool work, talking to us about topics that she was interested in, and by making friends with other adults, too, at church, etc. This helped to meet her needs that her age peers could not meet.

She did other extracurriculars, too, and enjoyed them, but it wasn't until middle school that we felt that she and we had a sense of community.  We did our best to try to build our own, until then, but it was hard.


Then in middle school, she got a chance to volunteer as a teacher's assistant at a magnet school, where they invited homeschooled kids to join them once a week, for parent led electives.  She had been going there, once a week, and I got to know some of the other parents there.

She became known at the school as the science TA, and having that role really helped her to connect with her peers.  I arranged for her to stay for recess also. This worked out well, as she gravitated to other physically active kids, and they would play on the playground equipment and make up games together.  Gradually she made more friends there.  Her confidence grew, and then, so did her social skills.  And she felt a part of this community.

Then, once the high school years rolled around, she was ready to engage in more peer activities, and that is when we found out about Youth and Government.  It is offered in 34 states and is sponsored by the YMCA.

We found this wonderful program in 9th grade, where the teens learn about state government and enact the roles of state legislators, gathering once a year, at a state wide Youth Mock Legislature.  

This program attracted smart and motivated teens, so her intellectually needs were well met there.  And her social needs, too. After her positive experiences as a science TA in middle school, she was ready, and made lots of friends and grew to even develop leadership skills.  


And the community that we became a part of...was priceless.   It helped her to expand her social abilities, friendships, and it became a vital community for her.

So for us, through using community groups and activities, our daughter was able to kind of craft her own community, through the years.


My daughter is now studying in college, and has started a dance/hip hop group there on campus.  Not that there are not still social issues that pop up, or frustrations with a friendship or two...But she is a happy college student now for the most part, with lots of friends on campus.



But it all started with her first community activity, a small music class, as a shy little one, who liked to just observe what the other kids were doing, until it was time to run, skip, and hop to the music.

What do you have to say about finding community and friendships?  I love reading your comments.



ghf_sept2016



This post is part of the Gifted Homeschool Forum's blog hop, The Importance of Finding Intellectual Peers and Community.



Also on the blog:



Homeschooling High School with College in Mind 



Kindle on Amazon @ 20% off - $7.17  
In print on Amazon Create Space @ 20% off @ $7.95


"Betsy's book is a terrific resource for homeschooling parents who are planning to send their teens to college.  As a homeschool upperclassman advisor, I can attest that the information is spot on.  Also the book is chock full of resources with links and lots of helpful forms.  Be sure you are ready to take notes while you read." .....review by Vicki Tillman, from www.7sisters.com 





Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy



Betsy is a veteran homeschooler who blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school and college too.  She offers homeschool help and free messages at BJ's Consulting.  Her e-book, "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind" is available on Amazon.


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12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful blog post! So encouraging to parents of younger children to see photos of your daughter in college and with friends/peers. That will give gifted/2e parents hope!

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, so nice of you to stop by. It has been so fun to see my daughter get comfortable with her college campus, and reach out there and make amd grow her friendships. Her high school activities really helped to prepare her for that, as she did group activities then with other teens, went to statewide assemblies, etc. Wishing you a great week,

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  2. I enjoyed reading how you and your daughter created your own communities for her through the years -- thank you for sharing your story and ideas!

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    1. You are so welcome, Emily! I hope that it gives other families some helpful ideas for building community. Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool.

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  3. It is so wonderful to hear about all the ways your family built community and found friendships throughout the years. It is an inspiration for those of us, like me, with younger children.

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    1. Thanks, YellowReadis. It took a number of years to get things going for us and for my daughter, especially for the 1 on 1 friendships, but was so fun to see them develop and be able to enjoy them as the years progressed. I shared your great blog hop post on twitter, and it was a good read!!

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  4. Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

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  5. It's great getting a perspective from someone who has "lived through" the gifted challenges. Great read.

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    1. Hi Heather! Nice to meet you. It is nice to look back on some of the things that we did, that worked for us, and enjoy the memories that we made along the way. I am enjoying hearing my daughter's current college news, etc, but I still like to think back on all the fun, and yes, challenges that we had homeschooling. Thanks for stopping by,

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    2. Hi Heather! Nice to meet you. It is nice to look back on some of the things that we did, that worked for us, and enjoy the memories that we made along the way. I am enjoying hearing my daughter's current college news, etc, but I still like to think back on all the fun, and yes, challenges that we had homeschooling. Thanks for stopping by,

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  6. This is such an encouraging read as the parent of younger gifted kiddos. Thank you!

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