In This Issue . . . ▪ Dear GHF:Yes, it's still being asked: But what about socialization?▪ If You're Smart, Why Don't You Get It?:Kathy Kuhl of Le

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In This Issue . . .

makingthechoice
Dear GHF: Yes, it's still being asked: But what about socialization?
If You're Smart, Why Don't You Get It?: Kathy Kuhl of LearnDifferently.com answers the unfair question
Homeschooling Success Story: Sirius Just: Homeschooling as preparation for life's opportunities.
More Ways to Support GHF

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Dear GHF

Dear GHF:

If one more well-meaning person asks me, upon learning that we homeschool, “What are you doing for socialization?” I think my head will explode. My daughter is an introvert and prefers small groups or one-on-one, while my son is gregarious and loves to be around other children. It’s a bit of a challenge, but most of the time I think we’re doing just fine. Should I be worried? How do you suggest I handle these questions?

Frustrated in Philadelphia

Dear Frustrated:

Although this question has become something of a joke within the homeschool community, it is actually an interesting topic. When someone asks about socialization, you might turn the tables on them by asking what, exactly, they mean by that term. After all, socialization and socializing are not the same, and it seems to us that many people confuse the two. Socializing is about interacting with others in a social manner. Homeschoolers generally have myriad opportunities to do this in ways that are appropriate to their children’s needs.

Socialization, on the other hand, is about the relationship between the individual and the group. Positive socialization results in a harmonious relationship between the two; poor socialization implies otherwise. Regardless of what educational choice a family makes, the parents still have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their children acquire socialization skills. These can include the ability to read social cues and respond appropriately, deciphering the unwritten rules of a group, understanding specific cultural expectations, and basic self-monitoring to function independently.

The reason this distinction is important is because there is no guarantee that a child will learn the rules of socialization through unguided socializing, such as happens in many school settings. For example, the playground offers opportunities for socializing—but so did the island in Lord of the Flies. Homeschooling families generally have a much smaller adult:child ratio and, therefore, more (personal) guidance for children in challenging social situations. A neurotypical child may, in fact, pick up many of those skills intuitively; a child who is neurologically different may need specific instruction, modeling, and practice.

The bottom line, then, is that you can be confident that the time and effort you are making to meet the disparate needs of your two children is a good investment. You can ignore the skepticism because you are living up to your responsibility as an engaged parent. Good for you!

For more information about support groups and online communities, please go to www.giftedhomeschoolers.org.

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If You're Smart, Why Don't You Get It?

by Kathy Kuhl, author, speaker, teacher, advisor

Sometimes a child’s giftedness is obvious. Other times it’s harder to see. Sam’s son may strike you as brilliant, but Sam is going crazy replacing lost jackets, shoes, textbooks, and backpacks. Jen’s daughter may be the star of the robotics team, but getting her to write anything is torture for parent and child alike.

What’s going on? A child can be both gifted and face other learning challenges. Attention problems—distractibility, inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity or a combination—can sidetrack a great mind. A learning disability doesn’t refer to intelligence; in fact a gap between intelligence and achievement may suggest a learning disability. Learning disabilities affect how you input, use, store, and/or output information. It can affect the visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic areas.

For example, a student can have trouble learning visually, say from diagrams, but follow a complex lecture with ease. Or it can be the other way around. Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson recounts in his memoir, Gifted Hands, how he nearly dropped out of medical school. A visual learner, he couldn’t learn by attending lectures all day as expected. He took the radical step of cutting all lectures and using that time to study textbooks and notes purchased from a campus service. He thrived.

If your child begins to struggle academically as they mature, consider whether a learning problem could be surfacing. Often learning disabilities are diagnosed when a student reaches middle school, high school, or college. Their giftedness helped them compensate until the academic or organizational challenges became too great.

After a diagnosis, help is available. Schools can help, but homeschooling allows you to spend extra time remediating (strengthening areas of weakness), without cutting into instructional time. Homeschoolers can arrange accommodations as they see fit, taking advantage of the fast-growing field of assistive technology without needing school approval. You can customize education to a child’s gifts, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.

Once you understand the problem, be sure to keep these invisible disabilities in mind. One mother recently told me that though she knows her child’s challenges well, sometimes she thinks, “If you are smart, why don’t you get it?”

I find it helpful to remember how much courage it takes our children to keep trying when learning is hard. When we realize our kids’ heroic efforts, it deepens our desire to encourage them, to cheer for them, to help them aim high.

At LearnDifferently.com, I offer resources, book reviews, a newsletter, and articles to help families help their children succeed. Whether you are considering homeschooling, trying to understand a diagnosis’ implications, transitioning to high school, struggling with math, English, or motivation (yours or your child’s!), I’m happy to talk with you, sharing insights, research, and encouragement. I give free initial phone consultations, and longer ones at a moderate price.

Thinking about homeschooling? At my website, read “Is School Working for Your Child?”, the first chapter of my book, Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner.

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Sirius Just: A Homeschooling Success Story

Sirius Just Photo

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost (1874–1963)

Homeschooling has been a very important part of my life. It gave me time to do things I would not ordinarily have time to do. It let me get out into the real world and gave me time to adjust to a more structured environment. Having previously been in a Montessori school, it gave me a chance to continue exploring my personal interests.

Getting out into the real world has been one big advantage to homeschooling. During my two years of homeschooling, I went on countless field trips. These adventures outside the classroom gave me a chance to experience the real world and real careers. There were so many great trips I can't share them all, but a favorite example was when I went to Rutgers University Coastal Oceanic Observation Lab (RUCOOL). On this trip, I got to see how real marine scientists work in their lab, which was especially meaningful to me because I have a fascination with marine biology.

Another advantage to homeschooling was that I was able to get my core course work done during the day, so instead of spending hours on traditional homework, I used this time to explore my other personal interests like reading, writing, composing music, and programming in SCRATCH and PYTHON. I had time to make a website, as well as write, edit, and publish a novel, Blue. Also, the fact that I was at home most of the time helped me to do things like take care of our new kittens.

Probably one of the most important things I got from homeschooling was having time to adjust to a more structured environment. As I mentioned, before I was homeschooled, I went to a Montessori school. It was really amazing. It taught me to be a self-directed, curious scholar. The school did not believe in homework for the sake of homework. The teachers did not believe kids my age were ready to take notes or lots of tests, or sit through long lectures. They believed kids need time for their minds to develop to be ready for things like that. Homeschool gave me the time I needed to grow and to adjust to a more structured way of being.

I am glad that I had a couple years to try something that most kids do not get the chance to try. It was a great opportunity and I think it will make all the difference in my life.

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Finally, check us out at one of our upcoming events!

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October 2011 • Volume 2 • Issue 3

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