I think my homeschooled child might be gifted. Now what?

One common misconception is that gifted kids don’t need extra care, because they’re gifted. Obviously they’re more capable, right?

Well, yes and no.

There are ups and downs to giftedness, and some of those downs can be quite marked. Having a gifted child is not all sunshine and roses.

For example, gifted children are often asynchronous: they can intellectually understand something that they’re not emotionally able to handle, like a disaster on the evening news. One preschool child I knew had a full-scale meltdown and nightmares for months after she realized that the dinosaurs had been wiped out, because she was afraid that it could happen to humans.

Asynchrony works in other ways too–a gifted child might be hugely passionate about an intellectual pursuit that other children their age are uninterested in, like special relativity. Other children would want to play tag, but they want to play up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top quark. Plus, other children aren’t going to get a joke about strange charms.

Sometimes their minds are ready for intellectual challenges before their bodies are mature enough to cooperate (handwriting, needing to sleep or eat, poor elocution), which can make the child immensely frustrated. Often, gifted children are misdiagnosed with medical issues instead of giftedness.

In addition, defining giftedness can be tricky. Schools often use a definition of academic achievement, whereas psychologists tend to use an IQ-based definition. When your child is twice-exceptional, or both gifted and learning disabled, finding an appropriately skilled clinician for testing and academic evaluation can be both difficult and prohibitively expensive because giftedness often masks learning disabilities but can show up as behavioral issues.

As a homeschooler, I think the best reason to test is “when a question needs to be answered.” (Hoagies) Why isn’t that great curriculum working for your child? Are they really that difficult, or is there a learning issue? Why are they crying about the evening news? Those are the kinds of questions a good educational psychologist can help answer.

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