Student Led Learning, Homeschooling and Giftedness 

I’ve written many posts during our journey of learning about Giftedness and during our homeschooling journey. As I reflect on those posts, I want to make sure I clarify some things. 

I write posts based on my experiences. I know there are many parents that are struggling as I am and knowing you are not alone is a major relief and can make all the difference in the world. 

I know Giftedness is many different things and it doesn’t follow a certain set of rules or criteria. Unless someone is tested it’s hard to identify and some don’t test well, so they may not ever be identified. 

But there are some markers I may not have stressed well enough. And that is hard, because there are so many differences. 

There are different levels of Giftedness. 

Hindsight being 20/20, I would only encourage unschooling and letting a child lead if they are profoundly gifted. What does that mean? It means many things, but if I had to sum it up, it would mean they are 4 grade levels above thier age. 

Yes, there is asynchrony. But that means a child has different levels. And the lower levels shouldn’t be ignored. 

When I wrote my posts did I realize that my daughter was profoundly gifted and only a small range fit into that category? 

No, I didn’t realize, because it was my normal. 

So I just wanted to clarify for the sake of my conscious that my posts our are journey and experiences and are out there to help those who can identify with them. And I do realize now how small of a percentage that really is. 

But I would not want my posts be an excuse to not educate your child because they don’t want to do something. Profoundly gifted children can fill in the gaps on their own or in a time period that is not easily understood by others. It means comprehending concepts in a month or so that normally take a year. That isn’t something I would normally say out loud, but it is something I felt I needed to communicate. 

I am an advocate for gifted children and unidentified gifted children. But I would never want my posts to be an excuse to not educate children that need structure and need to be educated, even if they don’t want to. 

With that said, if any child has any ‘issues’ rhey need to be addressed and accessed. 

I do believe my posts reach those who can truly identify in many ways. However, I also wanted to make sure that my posts don’t enable anyone who thinks they may fit and ends up choosing a direction that is not in the best interest of their child. 

Our Incredible Journey of Giftedness Continues 


Just when I thought the road we are traveling along was amazing, it becomes more amazing and with deeper meaning. 

I was struggling with how Madison could meet friends that she truly identified with. And don’t get me wrong, she has amazing friends. But there seemed to be something missing and she expressed knowing that. 

So fast forward and she met a friend. A friend that had the same interest level at chess as she did. Someone who challenged her. It was utopia for her.

And then we attended a class where she met another friend. And the conversations between the three were mind blowing to her. 

And I saw her smile and her eyes light up. She talked about that outing for days. 

And at that point, I realized I needed to apply for the Davidson Young Scholars Program on her behalf. And with an amazing amount of support, I did. And she was accepted. 

By doing this, I am helping her by supporting her social and emotional needs as well as her intellectual needs. And they are needs. 

I am so grateful for all of the support we have received throughout this process.. It has been amazing and we do not go one day without praising God and the path she has been lead to take. We are extremely appreciative of the support we are receiving. She really needed it. 

Testing her was the best decision I have ever made. It not only gave me the insight on how to educate her in the best manner possible, it opened the doors she really needed. To be she is. And to be supported. And to open doors for me to support her in the best possible way. 

And all of this was made possible by the encouragement and the support of friends and a special person that understands Madison and provides the opportunity to encourage her and to go out of their way to make a huge impact in her life. 

God is good. Always. 

I will post more to come on how we have learned to choose to focus on what really benefits Madison. What she loves and how she learns best. 

February 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

This month was a lighter month as far as activities go. Madison decided she wanted to join Homeschool Band and play the clarinet so we added one more weekly activity to the list. She enjoys practicing and does it on her own, so it’s been good so far. This month she learned about aquatic science in her Junior Master Naturalist program at the Perot and went on a field trip to the Trinity River Audubon Center. She lost me when she came home and started taking about leaches and eggs. 🤢

Madison is continuing her piano lessons and catechism classes as well as homeschool PE. 

We decided to spend a day at the zoo and Madison loves to take her treasures into the Nature Trading Center. She is collecting points and saving them up for something that has a high value. Madison also brought some additional items to get help identifying them. She loves to talk to the experts! 


Here she is feeding the giraffe. 


And she enjoyed hanging out with the birds.

It was Engineer Week and the American Society of Civil Engineers had a booth at the Perot Museum. They had a contest to see who could build the tallest building that could stand on its own by only using 2 sheets of paper, 10 inches of tape and 5 paper clips. 

This was an excellent challenge for Madison because she didn’t realize how hard it would be and it took her out of her comfort zone. She was very focused and was irritated when I tried talking to her while she was building it because she didn’t want me to give her any hints. She wanted to figure it out herself and it wasn’t coming easily for her. This ended up being a great thing, because she was happy to build it tall enough to get her name on the board and then when we got home she decided she needed to learn more so that she could understand structures and engineering better. It lit a fire. 🙂 I have a knex bridge education set I’ll pull out and I’ve been researching more STEM ideas on Pinterest. 


Bless the Engineers who were working the booth that day. When Madison is determined and focused she can be quite a bear. That’s a work in progress. She wanted to go back and try again before we left, but I figured we had enough for one day. 

I think it will be easier for her to grasp the concept once she has high school physics and higher math. But it is so awesome to have activities like this to drive her to want to learn more and we’ll practice with other ideas in the meantime. 

It was also neat to hear from friends on Facebook who went on Monday and Friday and shared the different heights that were in the lead and to see pictures of their kids building their structures. 

We ended the month with an art class at the DMA. The theme this month was ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the class learned about real and mythical creatures in a special exhibition called Art and Nature in the Middle Ages. Madison really enjoyed this class and learned a lot. 


Then they went to the studio and created their own mythical creature and wrote with calligraphy pens.


Madison also decided it was time to cut her hair. She is now 7 inches lighter. Thank goodness! It will be so much easier to maintain now.



Madison finished up Secret of the Andes and Incas, Aztecs and Mayans this month with a final project that consisted of writing a 5 paragraph narrative essay. We are trucking along through the rest and I am in the process of exploring more tools to help her socially and with her education. More to come on that next month. 🙂 

Parenting a Profoundly Gifted Child


Mom guilt is the worst. 

It’s hard being the mom of a profoundly gifted child and sometimes you don’t realize your mistakes until you’ve fully made them.

As a mother you want your child to have many friends. To be able to be ‘part of the group.’ You want to be able to be part of the ‘mom’ group too. 

But when you’re homeschooling a profoundly gifted child you find that you can’t share what curriculum you are using when the discussions arise. You can’t talk about your struggles. So you stay silent. A lot. And you teach your child to do the same.

Why? Because if you say your child is 3 grades ahead in math it is considered bragging. Or if you say she’s taking an online AP American Government course, you again are bragging. Even though it’s not, it is just a fact. It is who she is and what she is doing. But the responses you get whenever you say anything are not positive. Especially if there are struggles. Like finding challenging reading or work that doesn’t contain subject matter that isn’t appropriate for their chronological age. ‘Why does she need to be doing that now anyway?’ is usually the response. But it’s still a struggle and it’s real. Or the things she likes to do for fun aren’t letting her ‘just be a kid.’ 

And then you end up telling your daughter not to talk about what she learning or use her normal vocabulary even when she is questioned by her peers. 

And you embrace the peer that doesn’t  question and the friend that doesn’t judge. 

And then you hear your daughter say that she ‘doesn’t want to sound as smart as she really is,’ so she stops talking. She doesn’t use the vocabulary out loud that is in her head. She becomes someone else in a group of people to ‘fit in.’ And she doesn’t feel good about it. She stays quiet in group learning experiences and doesn’t want to do them because she cannot be herself. Learning and knowledge are the inner being of her core. It’s who she is as a person. There’s no taking a break. So she becomes someone she doesn’t know or recognize and it starts to take over. 

And then as a mother you realize you set the precedent for this. All because you didn’t want to come off as bragging and you wanted your child to fit in. And you also realize it was at the expense of her entire being. You told her to pretend to be someone she is not. You thought that because she had one friend she could relate to, that filled her bucket, and liked her for who she is that all was ok. That her creativity and complex ways of playing imaginary are to be saved for the only friend who understands and enjoys playing the same way because that friend is the only other one who understands it and others would get upset if when they didn’t. 

You told her not to use the vocabulary she does at home when she’s playing in a group. You told her not to say anything that would make it obvious where she was intellectually when in a group, being if it is around adults or other kids. 

You do not realize the extent of the damage until one day she meets friends she can talk to about anything and everything. A friend she can play chess with and lose to. Friends she can talk to about the highest/tallest mountain and the difference, the largest desert, black holes and then learn it rains diamonds on Neptune. Her face lights up like you only have seen on Christmas morning and she is so happy. 

And yet again you learn from her. You learn that she needs a variety of friends that she can relate to and be herself around. And that she needs you as mom to be supportive of that and help her find them and to be sure she spends more time with the ones she has, not tell her to not be herself to have friends or to try to fit in with ones who she can’t be herself around. 

You robbed her of who she really is by making her become self conscious whenever she was talking to anyone but you and in the process she lost herself. 

Mom guilt is the worst.

I understand she has to conform to society to a certain extent and she understands that as well. She also understands that there are some things she cannot talk about because they could be disturbing to others. That just comes with the territory and respect for others. 

But I’m not going to remain quiet anymore. And she is not going to not be herself. I will no longer squash her because it offends anyone else. 

Madison is who she is. I love her for that. I am not bragging. And I will no longer be ashamed. If someone doesn’t like my child for who she is then they really aren’t a friend. And I am so grateful for those who do. Oddness rules! And it’s cool to be smart and crave to learn. ❤

And hopefully Madison can be proud of who she is now that she no longer has to hide it. She will be free and she will have a mom who is smiling not because she’s proud or bragging, but because she knows her daughter is happy being herself. Regardless of what grade she’s really in. 

 

January 2017 Book List


*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my complete disclosure policy for more details.

We didn’t really make it through too many books on the bookshelf this month. The majority were either checked out from the library or Madison re-read. But that’s ok, sometimes it works out that way. Also, NuMinds recommended a book to me that is AMAZING! It is called Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers (3rd Edition). (A huge thank you to NuMinds and if you would like to follow them, click HERE for their Facebook page.) This book not only has book lists and questions to discuss for ages preschool-high school, it also entails how parents and educators can guide gifted children through the books they read. It covers every aspect of the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of gifted children and the books that are listed have characters and text they can identify with. The questions listed for each book really helps tie the characters and the book together with a thoughtful and encouraging process that helps gifted children learn how to address big feelings and thoughts they encounter in a positive way. I cannot express how much I love this book. And with that said, Madison has read a couple from the list and will be reading many more in the future!

This month Madison read:

Out of My Mind (Thank you Jen for the wonderful recommendation! This was a great book for Madison to read!)

Zeb! the Cow’s on the Roof Again: And Other Tales of Early Texas Dwellings

Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

The Silent Stranger: A Kaya Mystery (American Girl Beforever Mysteries)

Anastasia Krupnik

Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret

Emily Windsnap and the Land of the Midnight Sun

Millicent Min, Girl Genius

The third book was released from the Story Thieves Series and so when it was delivered Madison decided she wanted to read the first two again before reading the third. She hasn’t started the third one yet.

Story Thieves

The Stolen Chapters (Story Thieves)

And Madison decided to re-read the Percy Jackson series before moving on to the next series by Rick Riordan. She’s a little obsessed so I’ve had to hold the rest of the series hostage so she will do other things like school work, eat, sleep….

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)

January 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

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It snowed in Texas!!! Not a lot, but enough! 🙂

It’s funny, I wonder why I am always tired and have bags under my eyes and then I write a monthly update post and see what we’ve done in a month and then I remember why. At the same time I know it’s not forever and will last Madison a lifetime and that is what makes it all worth it.
This month Madison went to the Perot Museum quite a bit. She learned about Ornithology in her Junior Master Naturalist class and went on a field trip to the John Bunker Sands Wetlands.

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The Perot had a special event called Journey to Mars that was presented by Lockheed Martin. They had a school bus set up and the windows inside were screens that showed a simulation as though you were driving on Mars. Madison enjoyed building her own stomp rocket and launched it and made her own badge.

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Madison’s favorite part of this event was talking to Dr Z. She went to speak to him on three different occasions while she was there. He amazed her and she loved hearing everything he had to say. They had some great conversations.

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The Perot also hosted a homeschool day early in the month. The focus was on Nano meters. Madison had never heard of nano meters before so she learned quite a bit. She even got to see nano gold and learn how it is being studied in the medical field.

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Unfortunately, we have had a bad season of allergies this month. Madison had a lot of sinus headaches and lost her voice. I started her on Zertec and she improved immensely. While she wasn’t feeling well she watched the series American Genius on Netflix. She really enjoyed this series.

Madison has continued Thinkwell 7th grade Math and we are on track to start Algebra I in early February. She also plays Prodigy for fun which allows her to practice and solidify basic skills at the same time she advances in higher math.

We are currently working on The Secret of the Andes unit from Moving Beyond the Page. In this unit in conjunction with the language arts unit, we are also working on the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans unit from Moving Beyond the Page. We dug deeper into this unit by reading the Mountains Discover Kids magazine and coordinating lesson plans as well as reading the Peru book from Top Secret.

In Secret of the Andes, we covered present, past and future verbs, verbals, a gerund, an infinitive, a participle, a verbal phrase, and how to write sentences with different beginnings. We will wrap up this unit with her writing a narrative essay in the beginning of February.

In Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans, Madison learned Mayan and Aztec History and Geography, Daily Life of the Maya’s and Aztecs, Mesoamerocan Warefare, Mesoamerican Knowledge, Mesoamerican Religion mans Celebration, History and Government of the Ican Impire, Daily Life of the Incas, The Art and Beliefs of the Incas, Incan Knowledge and Warefare, and Legacies of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas. The Perot has a traveling exhibit coming in February on the Mayans that we look forward to seeing. Madison read about Peru in Geography of the World and then colored Peru in on her wall map of the world.

The Thinkwell AP American Government course Madison is taking has been going very well without any issues. She has covered The Foundations of Government, Political Culture, and The History of the Constitution. Each of these have 4 – 5 subsections. She answers questions after each subsection. She will take a practice test and test after each chapter. Hopefully she does just as well on those.

With the recent Presidential inauguration, we took the opportunity to learn about the history of inauguration, the current cabinet positions and nominations as well as our President’s 100 day plan. We are tracking the 100 plan as well. Before the inauguration Madison also listened to the book Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Lives of . . .).

For science Madison completed the Astronomy Unit study from Intellego and read and did lesson plans from the Discover Kids Space magazine. She also received her first Tinker Crate which was about polymers. It was a hit. She loved making mars mud, bouncy balls, slime and putty all by herself and reading and reviewing polymers at the same time.

As far as Art and Music go, Madison is continuing her piano lessons and loving them. She read the booklet and listened to the Maestro Classics ‘Carnival of the Animals.’

Madison completed a couple of projects from the DVD from Home Art Studio. We are still on third grade. She loves these art projects. The video shows her what to do and all I have to do is buy the supplies.

She also started a kit to learn how to draw and paint with water color pencils.General Pencil Learn to Draw and Paint with Watercolor Pencils

We attended the DMA homeschool class where Madison learned about patterns and wax resist. We enjoyed hanging out with friends and we also met some new friends!



Madison is continuing Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-5 Set including Audio Companion, Visual Latin, and Wordly Wise 3000 Level 6 online. She reads her Daily Devotions and attends her weekly Religious Formation class. Madison also attends Homeschool PE weekly as well as American Heritage Girls. This month they had an awards ceremony and she received her badges in Photography, Living in the U.S.A., Fishing, Geology, and Aviation.

She loves playing chess kids and chess with others whenever she can. We attended a chess strategy session at the Library featuring Alexey Root and then Madison had a blast playing chess with her friend.

We love board games and I love the classics, but Madison has recently learned how to play Ticket To Ride, SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception,and Castle Panic. Next on her list of games to learn is Catan 5th Edition. Check out the Gameschooling Challenge from My Little Poppies. It is so much fun to see all the games people are playing, what is out there and which are the most fun.

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January also included fishing and a Top Golf outing for Madison and Jeff.

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So, I’ve decided from my last post that we cannot do it all, but now We’ve decided to try. Ha. Ha. We don’t have a path or a plan. We’re on a week by week basis now. 🙂

Visiting Dreams

I love this post. I think it speaks in volumes.

we tried normal

This is the season for resolutions, we are seeking to fix flaws and change our lives. It is our human qualities that make us want to compare, judge, control, and aspire. We can be hard on ourselves, and on our children.

We tell them from an early age what is expected of them, what we fear for them, and how we want them to comply. We are trying to help them become successful, functional, and fulfilled. They are swamped by our own fears and desires.

We mean well, but considering that our children are becoming ever more stressed, anxious, depressed, and suicidal; shouldn’t we to take a real look at how we raise and educate our children? It is time to let go of our agenda, our need to control, and our desire for compliance.

How would our collective lives change if we allowed children to trust their own instincts…

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December 2016 Homeschooling Update

December was filled with family, friends, blessings, and fun.

We started off the month with Madison’s Speech and Debate Tournament.

It was a 13 hour day and in the end, she placed 3rd in Junior Open Interpretation, 5th in Junior Informative and 6th in Sweepstakes. We were very proud of all the work she put into this. The best part was the knowledge she gained from learning how to write. She formulated a thesis statement, 3 main points, an introduction, and conclusion. She also learned how to cut a chapter book so it tells the story in 8 minutes. She learned so much from this experience.

Here are the videos of her speeches:

We decided it would be a good idea to take a break for the Spring semester so we can get more school in and to enroll again next Fall.

Madison participated in the Annual Great Hope Floats rain gutter regatta race with her American Heritage Girls troops and the Trial Life Troops. By a stroke of luck, her snowball making boat won first place.

Madison’s happy place is Color Me Mine and she enjoyed painting gifts for family and friends throughout the month.


We attended a Christmas party with our local co-op and Madison performed a piano piece for the recital. We also decorated gingerbread houses with friends, had an ornament exchange, and went on a horse drawn sleigh ride around town to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Madison really enjoyed the Dallas Art Museum Homeschool class this month.


They discussed the art while learning about the difference between fact and opinion. The art was very engaging.

Madison attended a very fun camp through NuMinds called Santa Runs on S.T.E.A.M. The camp was very engaging and creative. It was perfect for gifted children. The creative and fun way they were learning really engages gifted learners and brings out their desire to take their learning to the next level and encourages their critical and logical thinking without them even realizing it because they are having so much fun.

If only the public and private schools would embrace this curriculum and way of learning in their gifted programs…

I would encourage everyone to ‘like’ their Facebook page. They are doing some wonderful things for gifted learners.

Madison enjoyed decorating a STAR tree again this year. A STAR tree is a sad tree along the road. 🙂 It’s a little thing we do in our town to spread the Christmas cheer.

My oldest daughter, Alyssa came home from Austin for Christmas and my parents came to visit too.

Jeff turned 50 this year! What a milestone to celebrate!

Madison enjoyed playing chess with my father.

She received Greek Mythology chess pieces from my parents for Christmas this year. She loves them!

Jeff, my dad, Alyssa, and Madison enjoyed spending quality time at Top Golf.


We visited Alyssa in Austin after Christmas and went to the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capitol.

We also went to a pizza place called Rebel. Madison was excited to get dye free cotton candy.

We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Sistine Chapel Exhbition.

As far as curriculum goes, Madison did school up until the 20th of December minus the days we had activities. She did Daily Devotions, Jesus Our Guide, Wordly Wise book 6, Texas Citizenship, Space, Thinkwell Math 7, finished the History of Us and read the books on the December 2016 book list.

Now that Speech and Debate and the holidays are over, I have a plan that covers more for the new year. We will continue doing what we were doing in December, but will also add more writing and grammar as well as an easy Geography unit and coding and Microsoft Office. I will write a more detailed plan for January in the next post.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  Here’s to rocking 2017! Cheers!

December 2016 Book List Update

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Madison is continuing to work her way through the bookshelf. I have chosen the easier books first, so she is reading a lot for now, but as they get harder there will be fewer. Her all time favorite was the Emily Windsnap series. We will be checking out the rest of the series to read in January.  Here are a list of the books Madison read in December: 

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Baby

The Castle in the Attic

A Thief in the Theater: A Kit Mystery (American Girl Mysteries (Quality))

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Bright Shadow

The Case of the Ruby Slippers by Martha Freeman. (Holiday House,2012) [Hardcover]

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep

Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Snow Treasure

Grace (American Girl Today)

26 Fairmount Avenue (Newbery Honor Book, 2000)

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

The Long Winter (Little House)

Hoot

I decided to include reviews of content for Flush and Scat. They were on the bookshelf and so Madison read them after she finished Hoot. Madison tells me about each book she reads in detail on her own, so after hearing about these two, I decided it would be better to include the review so parents can decide if they feel they are age appropriate or not. She didn’t have nightmares, so all was good for us. 🙂

Flush

Common Sense Media Review of Flush

Scat

Common Sense Media Review of Scat

Visiting the Texas State Capitol

The second day we were in Austin, TX we decided to visit the Texas State Capitol.

Way up at the top of the dome is Lady Liberty. Madison is posing as lady liberty in front of the Capitol. The original Lady Liberty is on display at the Bullock Museum.

We started off with a tour of the Texas State Capitol. The tours are free and very comprehensive. Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was wonderful!

Here is a picture of the dome from the inside. If you stand on a star on the floor directly below it and clap or talk you can hear an echo that no one else around you can hear. That was pretty cool.

The hinges on the doors are really neat. They had a problem with people stealing them, so now they can be purchased in the gift shop. Madison was wanting to purchase one until she saw that they were $215.00.

We visited the Senate first and she learned all about what the Senate does and when. The desks are from 1890.



Then we visited the House of Representatives. Madison learned all about the House and what they do and when.



Madison located our Representative.



Then we toured the extension. The Texas State Capitol is the largest State Capitol in the United States. When we looked up we could see the Lady Liberty through the windows.



There are several QR codes placed inside the Capitol that you can scan to learn more about each area. We plan on doing that the next time we visit. They also have an interactive learning space to learn about each of the Texas War Heroes.

After the tour, we ventured outside to do a scavenger hunt of the grounds. They have one for the North side and one for the South. I printed them off prior to our visit. They do not have them available on site. Madison was tired after we completed the North side and suggested we save the South side so we would have something to do when we went back to visit again. She’s a hoot.


Here is a list of all of the memorials on both grounds. Here are explanations and pictures of each memorial.

This was the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It wasn’t on the scavenger hunt, but she visited all of them regardless.


Pioneer Woman


Texas Children. It represents all of the Texas children in public school. Madison is in full support of the public schools as long as she doesn’t have to attend. 🙂


And…she chose to do a mannequin pose as well.

We were delighted and grateful that our State Capitol has the 10 Commandments on its grounds.


That pretty much sums up our visit to the Texas State Capitol. It was our first, but will not be our last.

Madison is interested in taking a leadership class here in upcoming years though Teenpact.

They offer camps and classes in many states for ages 8 & up.

We are so grateful for the opportunities to be able to teach Madison through hands on and engaging experiences by homeschooling.