In This Issue . . . ▪ Big Changes Coming to A Word from GHF▪ Dear GHF: Does my child need an Occupational Therapist?▪ The Latest Book from GHF Pres

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Big Changes Coming to A Word from GHF
Dear GHF: Does my child need an Occupational Therapist?
The Latest Book from GHF Press: Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create
Homeschooling Success Story:: A camp even refuseniks can love
What's Up, GHF?: New offerings, how to support GHF, and much more

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Check out the July issue of A Word from GHF for a special announcement about upcoming changes to the newsletter!

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Dear GHF,

Recently, my child was evaluated for kindergarten readiness. Despite his ability to read Magic Treehouse books on his own and his fascination with the relationship among mathematical functions, we were told he was not yet ready and that we should have him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. I don’t understand what an occupational therapist has to do with my child’s readiness for kindergarten, and why, since he’s clearly academically ready for kindergarten, he should wait a year.

Confused in Campbell

Dear Confused,

That’s where the asynchrony thing comes in. Your child does appear to be gifted, but gifted isn’t simply an academic construct -- it’s how the brain is wired. Regardless of his accomplishments, there may be areas in which he has some trouble. Presumably, that’s what the evaluation determined and the reason for seeing an occupational therapist (OT) is to identify and mitigate these issues.

An OT will evaluate your son’s neurological development in areas of gross and fine motor skills, as well as areas of sensory processing. We don’t know the specifics for your child, but it’s not unusual for a gifted child to develop unevenly in different areas, for example, having advanced (compared to age peers) academic skills but not having some of the basic gross motor development, such as kicking a ball, riding a bicycle, or standing for long periods without tiring. Sometimes, it’s not gross but fine motor issues, which can significantly impact a child’s ability to show what they know, since pencil grip, writing, and drawing are all impacted by delays in fine motor development. Here’s some information on what you can expect from your meeting with the OT.

If your son does need occupational therapy, the good news is that frequently children really love going to OT and see it as playtime rather than worktime. Additionally, a child who is unable to keep up with their age peers in some activities will likely feel badly about themselves, nevermind that they are way ahead of their age peers in other ways. They may be subjected to teasing and bullying, as well. OT provides these kids with extra support to help improve brain development, increase confidence, and build sufficient skills to better keep up with their age peers. There are lots of things you can do at home to enhance the effectiveness of this therapy. There are many terrific resources that can help you understand more about what your child might need.

The larger question of why he should wait a year is indeed a difficult one, and why we frequently find ourselves recommending homeschooling as a good option for such children. If kindergarten is not required by law where you live, it might make more sense to let him range where he will academically on his own, while paying special attention to motor skills and sensory processing, without actually enrolling in a formal school-based program. The question of when (or if) you should enroll him in school will be one of balancing the many factors and options. Some families go ahead and enroll their children in an academically appropriate environment and then provide scaffolding to support the placement. Other families choose to wait and see. We would suggest that, before you make your decision, you cultivate a deep understanding of who your gifted child is, and what your gifted child needs. Many characteristics which are of concern in neurotypical children may be perfectly normal in gifted children, and vice versa. Be careful with which yardstick you choose to measure him.

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The world has transformed on an epic scale, but education has barely budged. How can you incorporate all the creativity technology has to offer into your learning experiences, even if your technological abilities are limited? How can online tools help students, especially gifted and twice-exceptional students, connect with others from around the block or around the world to collaborate on projects?

Ben Curran and Neil Wetherbee of Engaging Educators give you step-by-step instructions to get you started using technology in your learning experiences. Discover new online tools geared toward collaborating and creating. Try out projects specifically designed with these tools in mind. Create a positive and interesting online portfolio to share with college recruiters and potential employers.

Regardless of educational choice, Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create will fill you with ideas and inspiration that will revolutionize how you approach learning.

Available in print for $5.95 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and for Kindle and Nook.

For more information on this book and others from GHF Press, check out the GHF Press page at http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/ghf-press/.

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Green River Preserve
by Rebecca McMillan & Luke Myers

Our younger son is—how shall I put this—interesting. Intelligent, creative, curious, extremely sensitive, emotionally intense, introverted, yet social, full of ideas and opinions, marching to the beat of his own drum. Sound familiar to any of you?

Now 12, he is confident, charming, and bold when he is comfortable but cautious, uneasy, and a little anxiety-prone when he is not. Since birth, he has seemed particularly sensitive to context. He thrives in some environments and is profoundly miserable in others. This was true when he was in school and it is still true after five years of homeschooling.

We have spent much of Luke’s childhood trying to decipher and predict how he will respond to the environments he enters. I’d love to say that I’ve become good at it by now, but the reality is that it’s often unclear what environmental cues he is responding to. His relationships with adults and his peers are a crucial piece of the puzzle but there is far more to it than that. He needs to know at the core of his being that he is seen, understood, and accepted. He needs to know that an adult is aware of his sensitivities and keeping an eye out for him. He needs to know that there is room for his creativity and that he is free to be fully himself.

Along the way, we invested a small fortune in summer day camps centered on his interests: drama and imaginative play at four and five; science, soccer, and natural history at six and seven; computer games at eight; and music at nine and 10. I carefully researched each camp, making sure there was adequate supervision, and that the environment was safe and nurturing and the content was both stimulating and interesting. Each year, he attended with at least one close friend. All for naught; he loathed every single camp. Over the years, his behavior morphed from anxious tears to stomachaches to silent stoicism, but it all communicated the same thing: He detested camp. The years of camp misery turned him into a deeply committed camp refusenik.

Then last summer, he discovered Green River Preserve and his entire outlook on camp changed.

Nestled within a 3,400 acre wildlife preserve in the mountains of North Carolina, Green River Preserve is a non-competitive, co-ed summer camp that has excelled at connecting children to nature for the last 26 years. GRP inspires campers to have a greater understanding of themselves, their environment, and humankind. Unplugged from all electronic devices, campers have a chance to reconnect with nature, learn their own strengths, and find their inner voice. Every day at GRP, bright, curious, and creative campers thrive in “Nature’s classroom” as they learn from a community where ideas, creativity, and discovery are celebrated.

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Green River Preserve is a safe and nurturing place, both physically and emotionally. Purposefully small, enrollment is limited to 104 campers per session with a camper to staff ratio of just 3 to 1. Staff members are carefully selected for their maturity, sensitivity, intellectual achievement, and integrity as role models. The staff is deeply committed to providing support and encouragement to each camper as they make discoveries about themselves, the camp community and the natural world that surrounds them.

The signature of Green River Preserve’s program is the mentor hike. Led by mentor naturalists, campers explore forest, streams, and hidden valleys of the Preserve. Filled with adventure, discovery, and a heightened appreciation of the natural world, campers learn to use all of their senses as they play under waterfalls, crawl into caves, explore archeological sites, track wildlife, and taste edible plants.

In addition to the mentor hikes, GRP offers a wide variety of activities including hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, outdoor skills, environmental science, fly fishing, music, guitar, art, theater, pottery, woodworking, archery, and pioneer cabin where campers learn skills from a bygone era. Green River Preserve’s program and activities are carefully designed to provide rich experiential learning opportunities that spark diversity of thought and creativity.

Don’t take my word for it though. Here’s what our former camp refusenik has to say:

I had never been to sleep-away camp before in my life, let alone for three weeks, until June 17, 2012. Naturally, I was nervous going into Green River Preserve for my first time. I had a few good friends that I knew I’d be able to talk to if I was ever feeling bad, but I wanted to be independent and have my own social circle. As soon as I met my cabin members and counselors, however, I knew I would share experiences with these people that would solidify them as my good friends.

On the first evening, in all the rush and excitement, I forgot to bring a water bottle to the first match of capture the flag. During the break, when everyone else was hydrating, I felt really foolish for forgetting to bring water, but then one of my cabin mates selflessly offered me some of his water. It was then that I knew that these were people that would help me fix my mistakes, be my friends for the sake of making me less nervous, and take risks with me that I never would have braved alone.

One of the highlights for me was the hike to Pretty Place, many miles away. Leaving at 4:00 a.m., we walked entirely in silence to watch the sunrise from the mountaintop. Along the way, I tripped and fell in the dark, and my friends helped me up. I nearly fell into a rocky creek while walking across a fallen log. My friends caught me. I became part of a close-knit family, and made friendships to last an age. GRP is what I look forward to most for the entire year. I can’t wait to return this summer to see my old friends and make some new ones.

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Online Classes Geared to Gifted and 2e Students
GHF Online classes are now underway. Check out the listings for a hint at what will be offered next semester.

For Professionals and the Families who Meet with Them
Check out GHF's revamped Professionals page.

While you're there, take a moment to read our Healthcare Providers' Guide to Gifted Children. This free, downloadable brochure will help the professionals in your life better understand your child's needs. Print it today for your next visit to the doctor, dentist, therapist, . . . .

Four Titles Now Available from GHF Press
Check out the current and upcoming books GHF Press has in store. Pick up or download a copy of our other titles, If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, Making the Choice, Forging Paths, and Learning in the 21st Century for yourself, family members, friends, new homeschoolers, . . .

Looking for Ways to Support GHF?
Become a Supporting Member
Purchase GHF merchandise
eScrip: GHF ID #500003724
GoodSearch
One Cause: GHF ID #130553

For organizations that would like to reach the gifted homeschooling community while supporting the mission of GHF, we have created two tiers of Institutional Membership. For more information, please contact info@giftedhomeschoolers.com.

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April 2013 • Volume 4 • Issue 1

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