Amy Harrington, Esq. is a SENG board member and SENG Model Parent Group facilitator, homeschooling advocate, and an eclectic unschooler of two profoundly gifted children. She is an attorney, writer, and blogger (Gifted Unschooling) who is passionate about the future of self-directed education. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Atypical Minds, which provides coaching and guidance to gifted families in their quest for alternative education and school accommodations.
Most people are familiar with homeschooling, but the idea of ‘unschooling’ remains a mystery to most. As Amy explained, “Unschooling is a philosophy that entrusts children to find their own passions. It is child-led, passion-led, and interest-led learning. Unschooling generally rejects a traditional schooling mindset and the tools that go along with it – curriculum. The child is in the driver’s seat of their own education. Children are autonomous learners SUPPORTED by parents.”
The discussion then turned to ‘deschooling”. According to Amy, “deschooling is letting go of a traditional schooling mindset and learning to trust the process of getting to unschooling philosophy. It let’s everyone relax, detox and figure out what they are interested in learning. We shed our old mindset and embrace freedom.”
What is the role of a mentor in unschooling? Mona Chicks explained, “Mentors play a huge role, as they help the child learn about the real stuff in their chosen field. They provide outside input, too.” Amy told us that “Not everyone has mentors while unschooling but my kid has enjoyed working with many professors and entrepreneurs.”
When it was suggested that a compromise or blended learning scenario could be used to ensure comparable results such as regular education and outside-of-school enrichment, most unschoolers disagreed. They believed that for profoundly gifted students and prodigies, school was actually detrimental. Many referred to a ‘healing’ process that their children went through after withdrawing from a traditional school environment.
A transcript of this chat may be found on our Storify Page.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: email@example.com
Locating age-appropriate books for high ability learners can prove difficult for several reasons. Asynchronous development may mean that a very young child could comprehend reading material well beyond what may be considered appropriate for their age. As Lisa Van Gemert of American Mensa pointed out, interest levels and sensitivities also play important roles when finding appropriate yet challenging books for these children. Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources commented that material deemed appropriate for a child’s chronological age might be considered too simplistic and unsatisfying to the child. Leslie Graves, President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, noted that the depth of thought embedded in the content and the pace of information offered would also make many leveled offerings inappropriate as well.
Reading patterns found in gifted readers can be different than those of typical readers. These kids often start reading earlier than their age peers and demonstrate deeper comprehension of what they read. Kate B. stated they may be self taught, read faster and be voracious readers. Justin Schwamm, Latin teacher at Tres Columnae, related that many gifted learners read and enjoy multiple books at once; which can drive others crazy. Moderator, Lisa Conrad, added that it’s still important to respect the developmental process and allow a child to enjoy reading at various levels. Parents should resist the urge to ‘push’ a child to read simply because they excel in other academic areas.
Reading to children was still considered an important role of both the parent and teacher even after children were reading well on their own. Jerry Blumengarten, well known content curator Cybraryman and former teacher, remembered family reading time as enjoyable and an important time to be set aside even after children were reading. When he taught Language Arts, his 9th grade students loved when he read dramatically to them. Jayne Frances reminded us that reading aloud is important for pronunciation of words and sharing more precise or alternate definitions than those gleaned from context. Many also related the importance of emotional bonding that occurs when adults read to children whether it was a parent or teacher.
The popular school reading program ‘Accelerated Reader’ did not fare well in the opinions of many at this chat. This program seemed out-of-sync with high ability learners. Justin Schwamm told us that he was not a fan because extrinsic rewards for an intrinsically-valuable task are problematic at best.
Questions for this chat are here and a full transcript of this chat can be found at Storify. Links from the chat and additional links are below. Thank you to all chat participants who shared links with us.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered byTAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guiding the Gifted Reader (1990)
Reading Lists for Your Gifted Child from Hoagies Gifted
Book List for Very Young Precocious Readers (link on bottom right of page)
Book List for Pre-teen Gifted Readers from Suki Wessling
The Challenge of “Challenged Books” Gifted Child Today Magazine Spring, 2002
Books for Young Readers from the MN Council for the Gifted & Talented
Appropriate Content for Gifted Readers from Duke TIP
3 Reasons I Loathe Accelerated Reader from Lisa Van Gemert, The Gifted Guru
Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First from Jen Marten
Reading Lists from Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources
Early Literacy Page from Cybraryman
Reading List for Key Stage 1 Gifted Readers (pdf) from Potential Plus UK
Reading and Literacy Skills Page from Cybraryman
Books Page from Cybraryman
Orientation (The School for Gifted Potentials Book 1) by Allis Wade
Revelations (The School for Gifted Potentials Book 2) by Allis Wade
Book Lists from Davidson Institute for Talent Development
The Gifted Reader’s Bill of Rights (pdf) by Bertie Kingore
*Photos: Courtesy of morgueFile
** Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay
Just a note to say that we have decided to pull this week’s #gtchat poll due to some issues with linking to other websites. Be assured that we will be discussing the top two picks in this week’s poll in the upcoming weeks. Join us Friday at 6PM CT/7PM ET/Midnight UK for #gtchat on Twitter. We look forward to chatting with you.