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We started homeschooling our gifted 2e daughter when she was three. Along the way she encountered some of the typical issues associated with giftedness: including sleep issues, intensities and excitabilities, sensory issues, and anxiety, etc. We tried a variety of strategies to help her.
This article includes a discussion of the things that we found to be most successful and helpful to us. As many of you know, my "kiddo" is now a junior in college, studying honors global leadership, political science and communications. Today, I am looking back to the earlier years, when the difficulties of giftedness were more apparent.
Let's start with the number one issue that came up in our house, during the toddler, preschool and elementary years....that of helping our daughter get to sleep.
My kiddo took hours to get to sleep as a little one. Learning to settle her excited intense mind was a challenges for sure. Our bedtime routine helped some, with bath and story-time, but each night she often took more than two hours to settle down and get to sleep. Things gradually got better, and we tried a number of approaches to try to help. Around 6th grade, getting to sleep was much less of an issue.
Things we did that helped:
Bedtime Routine -
Following a similar bedtime routine, with a fairly well set bedtime, helped. We set things with lots of books and favorite quiet activities, so that she could play on her own, in her room.
As a preschooler, she learned to stay in her room at bedtime, after her storytime, and usually played herself to sleep. This gave us some time to relax from the hectic day, while we were in the next room, available to her if needed. Gradually things improved.
Breathing exercises and Relaxation Tapes -
Breathing exercises, kid oriented relaxation tapes, or favorite music cd's also helped some. We taught our young one how to breath from the diaphragm, but making it a game and doing it together, laying on the floor. We each put a toy on our stomachs and practiced making the toy go up, and then back down, using the diaphragm.
Also, learning to accept that this was our normal. It just took more time for our daughter to get to sleep for many years.
Now, let's talk intensities.
Having lots of intense feelings and needing tons of attention, along with lots of questions to be answered, led to a very worn out mama, especially when my daughter was young. We both needed naps, lol!
Things that we did that helped:
Learning at home helped a lot with, as our daughter could delve deeply into things intensely or be quite active, as she was at home, instead of being in a classroom setting. Having lots of books, crafts, supplies around, available for her use, was also a help.
When she was a preschooler, we went through tons of cardboard and tape. Practically everyday. that was such a joy, to see her creations!
Structuring her time as a little one, with a predictable schedule, helped her to learn to manage her intensities. Things were predictable, and that helped a lot. Our daughter could anticipate what was going to happen next.
We also used time outs, or quiet breaks, such as a quiet reading time, or a favorite video from the library, when she needed to settle things.
Afternoon Naps or Room Play -
Having naps in the afternoon were essential. I needed that rest time for me in the afternoons. When my daughter no longer needed a nap, we switched to a quiet play time in bedroom. That helped her settle out, and gave me the important time to put my feet up and de-stress. And an adjusted mama was essential to my daughter's functioning, too!
Taking Quiet Breaks When Things Got Intense
Sometimes during our homeschool day, we used some calming down techniques, especially when she was little. Quiet time with the cat, watching favorite videos from the library, listening to audio tapes, all of these things helped.
Using Blankets -
Blankets are great for deep pressure, to help calm the nerves. Have you ever heard of "making a burrito" with a blanket?
Making a burrito -
Place a blanket on couch, and spread it out. Then ask your child to sit on it, and help them to wrap each side of the blanket across their lap, in effect, making a burrito, with your child all snuggled into it. This was a favorite way for my preschooler to help calm herself. We just used a regular blanket for this, not with a weighted blanket and it was not tight. We only did this for short periods, like a few minutes, when my child felt like it. Sometimes she even liked being rolled up gentle into a blanket. Awe, the comfort of blankets.
Long baths - As a young one, we had lot of toys for play in the tub, with things to play with and stick on the wall, etc. This kept her in the bath longer and she calmed so nicely to the warm water. And had tons of fun!
Baths were not just for the kiddos in our house. I often tried to find time in the evenings for a long bath for me, as my hubby took over the bed time routine most evenings. I needed my calming time, too!
Intensities also meant that we got to share in our daughter's intense joy, feelings, passions all along the way. Much joy was had by all of us!
|Watching our daughter's love of learning blossom, in Cat School.|
3. SENSORY ISSUES
Sensory issues are quite common among gifted kids. My daughter was a sensory seeker, always wanting vestibular input, spinning, running, twirling, jumping, doing headstands off the couch, etc. I have an O.T. background (Occupational Therapy) so I was comfortable finding the sensory activities that she needed to do. And our couches have lasted all of the hand springs and tumbling!
Our kiddo needed lots of vestibular and deep pressure input. She also reacted to any tags on clothing or any restrictive clothing. Tactile defensive, too. Also loud noises bothered her. Sometimes just achknowledging the issue helped. Oh, that was a siren. I know your don't like noises like that.
Things that we did that helped:
Well, she was a natural gymnastics kid!
So we used Parks dept toddler play, tumbling classes, and these were very helpful. Preschool gymnastics led to more, through the years. Having these gymnastics skills meant that she could use them to take active breaks whenever she needed to, to calm or just to by physical, such as tumbling on the living room rug.
She would do cartwheels in the living room and I encouraged that, and headstands, etc. We also made a simple gymnastics floor in her bedroom. Gymnastics became a favorite activity all the way through high school and that led to good self esteem.
I loved watching her gymnastics meets and seeing her on the balance beam, doing her routines.
But paid classes are not necessary, that is just what we chose to do. Any traditional playgroup, with swings and merry-go-rounds to push can work very well, too. Some families look for a pediatric O.T.and use them for sensory integration therapy.
|Gymnastics and dance were great outlets for our kiddo.|
We bought a simple plastic spinner, which my young one could sit on, and spin around in,
Later a desk chair to spin in was a hit.
Small inside trampoline for winter.
Big exercise ball to bounce on across the room
Outside - swing, big trampoline.
Out to the park a lot, especially for the swings. Lots of that.
Clothing Issues -
Avoiding jeans and instead using sweatpants, sweatshirts, tee shirts, comfortable clothing
Taking tags off.
By middle school, jeans became popular in our house, and the sweat pants not so much anymore. Oh, the fun of shopping for jeans for the first time, with my daughter!
Our kiddo had some struggles with anxiety, and often wanted to know what was happening next, such as where we were going, on a ride, etc.
What we did that helped:
Gave her as much control as possible, or choosing from two or three options when she was little
Playing, lots and lots of playing
Taught her self calming
Built in down time, quiet reading
Reinforcing developing independence
Sometimes we limited access to tv news
Going to the park
Being there for her
Using figets, small items to play with, were a great help when homeschooling, especially when verbal directions or explanations were given. As our daughter became more confident, her anxieties have lessened. a lot.
And lastly, let's talk about competition and perfectionism.
5. COMPETITIVE TENDENCIES and PERFECTIONISM
We let her win board games a lot as a young one! Then we got her a lot of thinking, cognitive games like chess. She was often distracted by the thinking process, that she forgot to focus on winning.
Still, I have so many good memories of my daughter and my hubby playing all sorts of games together. We had a lot of fun with it!
We often used humor. Competitiveness has become a positive thing in my daughter's college life. She has learned to balance it out with other things, like self care, and yet, to push herself towards her dreams.
As far as perfectionism...Well, I am a perfectionist, too, so we have worked together on this, through the years When my kiddo was young, we had fun practicing making mistakes, and made it a game.
Making mistakes on purpose helped! It lessened the power of goofing up.
Many of the concerns mentioned above were pretty well worked out by 6th grade or so. We honored our daughter's achievements and, at the same time, tried to help her to find a balance by following her own heart, building in self care, and giving her permission to make lots of mistakes. And us, too.
Isn't that what we all need?
I just had to add this last picture. My now, college student daughter was asked to make a publicity shot for Admissions on her campus. She works there as a college tour leader, between classes.
Check out all the other great posts from the other Gifted Homeschool Network bloggers in this month's blog hop - Difficulties of Giftedness Blog Hop.
What are some of the issues related to giftedness, that have come up at your house? I would love it if you shared those or any comments that you may have, in the comments section below. It is a joy to hear from you.
I also helped my gifted 2e daughter prepare for and get nto college as an always homeschooled student. Here are my best tips for college prep and homeschooling high school, in my recently published book:
My daughter got into each college that she applied to, with her homemade homeschool transcript. I wrote this book to encourage others who are looking at the college option. It is also available in print, also at the link mentioned above.
Thanks for stopping by,
Betsy is mom to her college junior whom she homeschooled from day one. She blogs at BJ's Homeschool about the early years, high school and college, and is the author of "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind". She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.
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