In This Issue . . . ▪ Dear GHF:What to do when your child's interest quickly changes from love to boredom.▪ Finding Mentors:Audrey Borden of MyGif


In This Issue . . .

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The latest book from GHF Press, written by Wes Beach. Available January 2012!

Dear GHF: What to do when your child's interest quickly changes from love to boredom.
Finding Mentors: Audrey Borden of discusses why we all need mentors and how to find them.
Homeschooling Success Story: Laura Deming: Following her passion from unschooling to UCSF to MIT.
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Dear GHF

Dear GHF,

I’m homeschooling my three elementary school aged kids. The current problem is the middle one. Every time I sit down with my six-year-old boy and talk about classes to take, he gets very excited. He wants to enroll in martial arts, drawing, Lego Robotics—pretty much everything sounds good to him! The thing is, we can’t afford to take every class under the sun, and when we do try an activity he often loves the first session, likes the second, and by the third he is bored or he hates everyone and wants to go home. I want to support his interests, but he doesn’t stick with them for very long. Should I make him continue?

Hassled in Huntington

Dear Hassled,

It sounds like you have two questions. The first is how to decide which classes to choose, and the second is what to do when your son lacks staying power (or interest). Regarding how to choose classes, we’re sure you are already taking into account logistics, cost, and so on. Are you signing your son up as soon as he expresses interest, or are you waiting long enough to determine that it’s not a passing ‘shiny object’? If he has been chomping at the bit for a few weeks or even a few months, then it’s probably worthy of serious consideration.

You’ll also want to consider what factors are spurring his desire to both enroll and to leave the other classes. Is it possible there are social challenges or sensory issues that are creating an obstacle? If so, once he begins a new class, are there ways to accommodate or assist him? For example, in an art class, can you request that he be seated away from the noisy lights or smelly heating vents? If your son doesn’t like people touching him, perhaps the spotter at the gymnastics class can be persuaded to hold a hand near, but not touching, him.

It’s also possible that your son had expectations that the class doesn’t meet. You can often address this issue preemptively by discussing expectations in advance, examining the location beforehand, and possibly sitting in as a visitor once or twice. If your son has attended an activity just a few times, or even for a longer period of time, and still wants to quit—well, is that a bad thing? It’s frustrating for you, but it may be what he is actually seeking. He may truly be bored, or he may feel he has acquired all of the new information on that topic that he desires and is ready to move on.

Some folks will tell you that your child has to learn to “stick it out,” but there is nothing wrong with knowing when to call it quits. It’s a critical life skill for our children, and you can help yours learn how to make the decision to stay or go.

CBS News Money Watch recently ran an interesting article on the upside of quitting: Why Quitters Prosper.


Finding Mentors

by Audrey Borden,

Through my work as a human resources professional, trainer, and business consultant, I’ve always stressed the importance of mentors. One of my best and earliest mentoring experiences was so valuable that I learned more in five years at that job than some learn in fifteen. Now, I have gifted advocacy mentors and business mentors. I’ve never had to ask “Will you be my mentor?” These relationships just happened.

Finding Mentors for My Girls
Few teachers seemed to understand my youngest daughter. I was never sure if they saw the potential in her that our family could. She is twice exceptional, highly creative, and a healthy challenge since birth, which have culminated into a beautiful mind. I could tell her over and over how amazing she is, but what we needed most was someone else to reach her.

Mentors through Extracurricular Activities
Last year I found a dance instructor who could see all these beautiful gifts inside my seven-year-old. My daughter quickly attached herself to this very creative teacher, who she could see understood her and challenged her to aim higher and be herself. Her confidence grew tremendously that year. The instructor allowed my daughter room for her personal touches to choreography and valued her way of thinking. She has since moved away, but my daughter insisted on staying connected. An added bonus is my daughter is writing real letters!

When a child is serious about an extracurricular, it is important to find a coach who understands your child. A coach can be a mentor.

Searching for a Mentor
Now if my girls said they were passionate about government, I could help guide and direct some learning in related fields. I’ve tried to create some interest, and I get excited when it’s time for social studies. My 10-year-old, however, is passionately interested in NASA and rockets. At the age of seven, before she went to sleep one night, she told me she was interested in explosions. So, we helped her find a field of interest by attending a launch at Cape Canaveral, which kicked off her self-directed learning. We haven’t found a mentor for her yet, but we’ve been grateful for friends who have ties to NASA who have given her piles of materials for her collection.

Outside of rocket science, she has found a couple of girls that she admires at her dance studio. Kids will often find mentors all on their own, and those mentors might not be adults.

Mentoring via Social Media
Finding a mentor can be as simple as a Facebook post. You would be surprised at who is willing to help. For my daughter who is obsessed with NASA, I’ve allowed her to set up a Twitter account that I monitor. She follows any NASA- and astronaut-related tweets. I call it “mentoring via Twitter.”

Mentors don't need to be Career-related
I had a mentor as a teen that made the difference in how I pictured marriage. She invited me to dinner with her husband. I admired the idea of getting married young and growing up with my spouse before starting a family, and I was able to make that happen. This was not career-related mentoring, but valuable lessons for me on relationships which changed the way I saw dating in high school.

Do you have a mentor? Could you be a mentor?

To learn more about mentoring, please go to You can also follow My Gifted Girl on Facebook and Twitter.


Laura Deming: A Homeschooling Success Story


When I was homeschooled, everything was magical. My parents didn’t crack open hefty tomes and lecture me on the intricacies of basic algebra. They left us to figure out basic math on our own. Instead of a dry run through tables of formulae, Dad and I would chat about the beauties of math. How intricate, spiraling, numerical patterns could—and did—save the world on a daily basis. How we were a walking, talking summation of billions of tiny biological calculators, each calculator a cell, and each cell a miniature cosmos in its own right.

My dad painted a vivid picture of the titans of science. I idolized Archimedes, Galileo, da Vinci, Faraday, Newton, Maxwell, Tesla, Pasteur, and Darwin. I couldn’t believe they were all dead, and that I would never get to meet them and hear them talk. One living scientist that I admired, Cynthia Kenyon, was working on ways to extend the human lifespan so that these great minds, and all others, could live longer and healthier lives.

When I was 12, I met Cynthia Kenyon. She opened up the world of ‘real’ science to this starry-eyed preteen. I got to work in her lab at UCSF, at a bench, planning and performing real experiments. I got to fiddle with lasers, scoop up mounds of microscopic worms, and stare mesmerized as the modified, glowing creatures writhed and wriggled around a plate.

Cynthia taught me how to decode scientific papers; jargon-stuffed screeds turned into thrillers, hunts for elusive proteins and fragmented pathways. I got to feel the elation that comes when you discover something nobody else has seen or known, the satisfaction of clicking in the final puzzle piece.

And UCSF was wonderful place to be. I got to roam the halls, exploring intricate ribosome models and gawping at two-story-high statues of DNA. Lectures taught me what I couldn’t pick up at the lab bench. Professors and grad students were kind enough to walk me through problems and grade my attempts.

I had always wanted to go to MIT. Richard Feynman’s alma mater had to be a great place to imbibe scientific knowledge, and I was already using online MIT lectures in a self-structured curriculum. I scraped together the necessary test scores, muddled through the online application, and stuttered past the requisite interview. Wes Beach, a California-based expert at translating homeschooling experiences into fitting admissions applications, helped me shape my curriculum into a readable transcript.

A year later, I started freshman year as an MIT biology major. College had ups and downs; I’m most thankful for a wonderful stay at the Weiss Lab with mentor Adrian Slusarczyk and a thrilling semester exploring quantum mechanics with Prof. Allan Adams and Prof. Scott Hughes.

But the most valuable lessons I’ve learned still come from my dad and my science mentor Prof. Kenyon, both still in awe with nature, and both insatiably curious to know more. If you are homeschooling parent, please, share that awe with your child. We can take it from there.

Laura Deming grew up in New Zealand. She began work in an anti-aging lab at the University of California, San Francisco, when she was 12. She matriculated to MIT at 14, leaving two years later to participate in Peter Thiel’s 20under20 entrepreneurship program.


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January 2012 • Volume 2 • Issue 4

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