Friday, October 28, 2011

Ever Hope for a "Normal" Child?

This may only make sense to those parents of gifted children, but do you ever wish you had a "normal child"?  

Our three older children all began reading very young and all three of them have ended up skipping a grade in school, but it has been a crazy road.  Trying to figure out what to do or not do when you know it's going to affect your child's future is not an easy thing.

While we are very proud of our gifted children, sometimes we wonder what it would be like if they were just "normal" or if they even struggled in school.  We've always been so focused on trying to figure out what we should do for our kids in school to better challenge them or help them not be bored or let them learn on their level that it gets tiring sometimes.  Is it really that important?  I mean, maybe we should have just let things be and left them alone to go through school with no changes.  They could have gone to Kindergarten, or my son could have gone to 5th grade.  They could all be in the same grade as kids their own age.  How would that be?  Would they really have been bored forever?  Would they have started to hate school?  Who knows.  

We look at our youngest daughter now and it's funny how we smile and are excited by maybe finally having a "normal" child academically.  That's silly to say, but it's true.  While each of our kids have surprised us, and we love them all, it seems like life might be easier if they could just go to school and be normal.  

   Our youngest daughter is only 3 and we figure she is just right on track for her age.  Well, actually for a short while we worried that she was a little behind in her learning, but I think it was just too hard to tell when all we've had to compare her with is her older siblings who have all been early learners.  Anyway, she is slowly learning her ABC's and she can write her name, and that is great.  While her brothers and sister were a bit more advanced at this same age, that was "not normal" for a regular 3 year old.  She surprised us the other day though.

It was quiet in her room and I walked in to see her working on this 50 piece puzzle at her desk.  I went over to see it almost completely done and I was confused.  It was like I was thinking, "Who else is home to have put this puzzle together?"  But there wasn't anyone else home.  She was in there all by herself, and not for very long, and she had figured out this whole puzzle herself?  How did she do that?  

OK, maybe it's just because I'm not a puzzle person, but I can't even get those little 25 large pieced puzzles together without getting frustrated!  Hence to say we were very impressed and surprised that she could do this 50 piece puzzle with small pieces on her own.  

Who is to say if she will be gifted like her siblings, and it doesn't really matter in the long run.  Maybe we'll finally get a "normal" child, and we'll be just fine with that.  No more teachers asking us to skip our kids grades or telling us they are "wasting our kids' time".  Normal could be good.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mature Academically, but Still a Little Kid

Our little girl is now in 2nd grade, a 6 year old with those who are mostly 7 turning 8.  It's crazy to think that there are many kids older than she who are just beginning 1st grade, while here she is in 2nd.  Where did the time go?  We worry that the time will come too soon where she won't want to be a little girl anymore.  Gone will be the times of my little ponies and princesses and the only thing important will be teen pop sensations, preteen books, makeup and fashion.  But how long can we hold off?  

One thing about our daughter, unlike our sons who have skipped grades, is that she is a social butterfly.  She just loves everyone and they all love her.  She still has friends from the short time she was in Kindergarten, and then she has so many friends in her new grade level.  She is never at a loss for play dates.  In fact, it is often that we have mom's knocking at our van window or calling to set up play dates with Jewelia.

While there are so many girls about 8 years old in her class who have began to change their interests, it is nice to see a few who are still young at heart.  On a recent play date, we were indeed happy as we saw that the little girl walking home with us to play had Dora the Explorer shoes on, and even happier when she wanted to push little baby doll strollers around outside.  I'm glad that some kids can still be kids.  

It seems like most kids are growing up way too fast.  I suppose it's easy when you have older brothers or sisters as an influence, but even then some kids who are an only child can move on to more adult interests a little sooner than they used to.  

As our kids have skipped grades and it sometimes feels like they've been pushed ahead to be older, we still think it is important that they can still be a kid.  It is interesting to see them reading, writing, and figuring out math problems way beyond their same aged peers, but then when it comes down to the simpleness of playing games and having fun, it doesn't matter so much.  

It will be interesting to see what happens as they get older.  Will they be forced to grow up too fast, or will they be lucky and find some friends who enjoy their time just being a kid? 

Monday, September 26, 2011

An 11 Year Old in Junior High

Here's my oldest son.  He thinks he's pretty cool here. 
 I'd say he was around 4 years old at the time. 

Well, it's been a long road, and now he is 11, and starting Junior High School for the first time. 
Will he be so cool now that he is a tiny little 11 year old amongst Junior High School kids who are mostly ages 12 and a half to 15 years old? 

It wasn't such a big deal to skip 5th grade and go into 6th grade at an elementary school with kids mostly younger than he, but now he has moved up and all the kids are older. 
Older and bigger. 
Much much bigger.

During the first week of school sometime I walked a short distance from the junior high school just in time to see him getting out of school to walk home.
Yeah, I suppose I was spying a bit, but I stood behind a tree from a pretty far distance away and tried to act casual.  Ha!

Anyway, out comes all these kids, these HUGE kids, these old looking, mature looking kids, and then I see my boy.  Yep, he's that one about 2 feet shorter than the rest, the skinny one.  And I'm not comparing him to the other boys.  It's the girls who are towering above him.  The boys are probably much taller.

Oh, he looked so out of place.  But so what.  So.  How is this year really going to go?  Will he like it?  Is he glad to be here instead of Elementary School?  Is he sorry he skipped?  Will he fit in?

So far, he is doing quite well academically.  Well, he always has. 

Well, remember this is the boy who has Asperger's syndrome, and although his elementary school psychologist said there were many "red flags" for not wanting him to skip grades, we still pushed to make it happen, and he did well in 6th grade.  The kids were nicer. 

I've asked him about friends at Junior High. 
He tells me everyday he eats lunch with a certain boy who they don't even share any classes with, so I suppose the boy must want to hang out with him and not just out of coincidence. 

He even tried out for the Junior High Jazz Band and made it!  That's my boy!  Just a little 11 year old who still managed to win a spot in an audition only jazz band where the other kids are mostly 8th and 9th graders.  Kudos to him!

It is a little stressful to me seeing that I don't have much control over the boy anymore.  It's a little nerve racking knowing that he is on his own in a way at such a young age.  It seems like he's had to grow up so fast, and yet as I think about it, he's always been so grown up all these years.  Even there at age 4, I remember the way he talked to me just wasn't normal compared to other kids.  It's hard to explain. 

I still want to allow him the time and not miss out on things because of his early Junior High enrollment.  I'm pretty sure a lot of the kids end all dressing up and trick or treating for Halloween by Junior High time, but I don't think that's fair for him to lose a year.  Although he's not going to dress up for school (I doubt that would be too cool in Junior High School), he still has plans to dress up at home and go trick or treating.  It's only fair, and he should get to enjoy all the trick or treating years he can! 

Only time will tell how these next few years go.  Will he ever get that growth spurt to catch up with the others?  Will he gain some meat on his bones?  Will the other kids be able to see past his tiny size and young age?  Will he be considered an equal?  A peer? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Honors for Academics

We were invited to an awards assembly at the end of the school year to see 2 of our kids receive awards. They picked 2 students out of every class who had the best marks in citizenship and academics. 2 out of our 3 school aged kids were picked, although we were surprised because our first son had all Honors in citizenship for the year as well as straight A's for all 4 quarters.

So, things seem to be just fine academically for our 3 kids who have all skipped a grade. How awesome that they can still be excelling even after being placed a year ahead. I always wonder if they will even out and just be average since they skipped a year, but they don't. They continue to excel. Good for them!

Socially they are all doing OK. While our oldest doesn't have really close friendships, and our second seems to think "everyone" is his friend although I don't think they all return the thought, they are happy enough. Our #3, the little girl, the youngest of them all to skip grades is probably the best socially. She is just so outgoing and has made so many friends. It doesn't matter that some of them are almost 2 years older.

All is well. It is summer and we only wait to see what happens for our kids as the next year starts.

Our 11 year old will enter Junior High,
our 8 year old will enter 4th grade,
and our little 6 year old will start 2nd grade.

Let's hope for a great new school year!