You can now follow GHF on Pinterest. Thank you to Pamela Price of Red, White & Grew, for getting us up and running. In This Issue . . . ▪ Dear GHF:


You can now follow GHF on Pinterest. Thank you to Pamela Price of Red, White & Grew, for getting us up and running.

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In This Issue . . .

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Dear GHF: Obedience vs. cooperation?
David Albert: Read an excerpt from David Albert's forthcoming book, Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance.
Homeschooling Success Story: Diane Fenner: The Homeschooling and Travels of Me
More Ways to Support GHF
Check out Tracy Blom's new piece, Love, Labels, and Legitimacy, on the GHF Article page.


Dear GHF

Dear GHF,

I am tearing my hair out! I adore my kids, but they drive me crazy sometimes. I try so hard to parent them lovingly and with plenty of guidance, but they refuse to listen when I tell them what to do. It’s almost like they don’t understand that I’m the adult and they are the children. What can I do to make them obey?

Frazzled in Frankfurt

Dear Frazzled,

We’re not sure that “making children obey” would even come up in a how-to manual for raising gifted kids. It’s not that it wouldn’t be simpler to tell your children to stop what they’re doing and go sweep the kitchen and then have them jump up and do it; it’s that—especially with gifted kids—you might be setting yourself up for a power struggle that would impede communication and could damage your relationship in the long run. Some common characteristics of gifted kids include
● Intensity
● Moral sensitivity & concern with their idea of justice & fairness
● Perseverant in their interests (i.e.: stubborn and focused)
● Prefers older companions (and perceives adults as peers)
● Judgment mature for age at times
● Is a keen observer (monkey see, monkey do, and monkey might not make the distinction between what’s O.K. for you but not for them)
● Tends to question authority

These traits offer some insight into the tendency of gifted children to be other than docile and obedient. That’s not to say they won’t ever listen to you; however, you may need to take a different approach to achieve that goal. Obedience may come from authority or even from fear, but cooperation (which looks a lot like obedience in a certain light) comes from trust, respect, and mutual understanding.

Another point to consider is that your children may not be cooperating because their perception of a situation is different from yours, or they have a different suggestion that they’d like to try. When possible, it’s worthwhile to hear them out and attempt to understand their recalcitrance. Perhaps you can answer their questions, or consider their ideas. These sometimes astonishing young people often come up with solutions that work just as well as our own. That’s not to say that you should stop and have a lengthy discussion about why “red is for stop and green is for go” while your three-year-old is trying to race out into traffic. The relationship is what matters: if you can establish guidelines and spell out mutual expectations ahead of time, you can have more in-depth discussions later, if needed.

A benefit to this kind of interaction is the building up of trust and respect on both sides, which will lead to the children’s increased confidence in themselves and in you. It also gives them the opportunity to see you model respectful interactions and a constructive problem solving process. Granted, it takes more time and effort than if they just obeyed, but it takes less time and effort than a power struggle, and doesn’t incur the same collateral damage.

Check out the articles page on the GHF website for more information on living with gifted children, including the new article from Tracy Blom.


"Yaya Gajiya," by David Albert

“Yaya gajiya?”

“Ba gajiya.”

If you ever find yourself among the Hausa people in northern Nigeria or southern Niger, you will be asked this question as part of their greeting ritual, just after you each say hello to each other.

“How is your tiredness?” is the question.

And the only acceptable reply is, “No tiredness.”

The reality is that the Hausa have always lived a very difficult existence, and the politeness ritual is a form of bucking each other up. In South India, where I have spent substantial amounts of time over the past four decades, and where food security could be precarious, the equivalent question is, “Have you eaten?” And “yes” is the suitable and conventional response, even if one is starving to death. Food (when there is any) is soon to be brought out in any event.

So, how many of you have found yourself tired at some point in your family’s homeschooling journeys? I don’t really have to ask. Unless you are Superwoman or Superman (or totally delusional), I feel reasonably certain I already know the answer.

The thing to remember is tiredness and happiness are not opposites. I think I originally learned this lesson from my daughter Meera. We adopted her at ten months of age, and English was not her first language. But she seemed to come equipped with an “Energizer Bunny” of a motor. She’d get up in the morning, would never miss a beat, and then just keep ‘going, and going, and going…’ Until she’d lie down in our family bed, next to me, turn over, and say, “Daddy. Happy.” And then she’d be out.

I have an old friend who had a vision almost 25 years ago that she was to adopt children with special needs from around the world. At last count, she had 16 (including one ‘natural’ child – anyone have a better term?) from at least five countries. Luckily for her, many of them like to cook. The family is not wealthy, but cares for the kids virtually without any government assistance though with much ‘hands-on’ support from family and friends, and homeschooling most of them most of the time. Hubby keeps building extra rooms onto the basement.

I will occasionally see her. (As you can imagine, it’s quite a chore to get all the kids onto the family bus!) I remember meeting up with her once at a community event.

“Diane,” I said, noticing the bags under her eyes, “You look tired.”

“I am tired,” she responded, without even the slightest hint of change in her attention toward the kids she had with her.

“Don’t you ever sleep?” I asked.

“Oh, David,” she replied, again with her attention to the kids unwavering, “I’ve read my Bible cover to cover maybe four, five, or six times. Nowhere did I find a commandment that says, 'Thou shalt sleep.' There will be plenty of time for that later.”

And you thought you were tired?

This is not meant to belittle your very real feelings. Homeschooling can be tiring, sometimes even exhausting. But remember: this special time with your children isn’t going to last forever, so savor it for all that it is worth. And you will be surprised at how quickly they grow and change, and you along with them. When you think you are tired, remember my friend Diane.

If it helps, replace the word “tired” with “stretching.”

At the end of the Hausa greeting ritual, the first person will ask, “Yaya aiki?” “How is your work?”

There is only one proper response. “Mun gode.” “We are thankful.”

We are thankful, indeed.

(Excerpted from David H. Albert’s forthcoming book Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance. Hunt Press, Spring 2012)

For more information on David Albert, please go to Also, GHF supporting members receive a discount on David's books! Please go to the GHF membership page for details.


A Homeschooling Success Story: Diane Fenner

Diane Fenner Photo

The Homeschooling and Travels of Me

I suppose I shouldn't start out by saying, “Homeschooling is Awesome!” since that's what this is about. It sounds terribly stereotypical to me. But, well, Homeschooling is Awesome!

There, now you've read it, let me tell you why (in my experience), homeschooling is awesome.

I'm sixteen years old, and have been homeschooled all my life. So, understand that I can't compare homeschool to school. And even if I could, I have a feeling it would be terribly biased. But, I can tell you about the opportunities and experiences it's allowed me to have.

Homeschooling can be a free way to learn. I can learn about anything I want to, using methods that work best for me, at my own speed. Here's an example of a project I am starting:

I've been to Disney World several times (another plus of homeschooling—going places on weekdays and in the middle of the school year), and I'm going to make a research/fun-fact/scrapbook about it. My plan is to start with Magic Kingdom. I'll start with a page of general and cool information about the park. Then I'll move onto my favorite rides, restaurants, and attractions. From there I'll move on to the next park, probably Epcot. I'm also planning on doing research pages for Disney World in general and Walt Disney. The cool thing (that I didn't realize at first) is this allows me to do a really fun project while practicing important skills for college: research, organization, and essay writing.

Along with being able to learn this way (even if I do still have to learn algebra, which I'm pretty sure hates me), I've also gotten to travel and experience a lot of things. When I was seven, we moved into a 38-foot RV and traveled around the U.S., until I was about ten. What I remember most was seeing the St. Louis Arch and Mt. Rushmore. (Note: If you're claustrophobic, don't go up in the Arch. The elevators are tiny.) The Arch was really cool. You're up so high it feels like you're in an airplane! (Not recommended for acrophobics.) I've also lived in Montreal, Canada, for a winter and London, England, for ten months. I made a lot of friends in England, and even got to see Buckingham Palace! (How they clean their chandeliers, I don't know; but I feel sorry for whoever has to do it.)

And then there's learning. Learning is incredible if you do it in the right way. I love to learn so much, I don't take off for the summer. (But that's just personal preference. I'm sure if you took off, summertime wouldn't be offended.) Currently, I'm interested in loads of things for college. Writing, art, dancing, music, science, and languages are just a few of the things I want to do more of and learn more about.

Overall it's been a pretty amazing experience for me, and for several of my friends. I hope if you do decide to take up homeschooling, you have an amazing time, too!


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April 2012 • Volume 3 • Issue 1

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