Washington D.C. Day 2

Madison had to get a picture of her on Madison Drive. 😉

We started out day 2 with a docent tour of the National Archives Museum. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The best part pf this tour is that we were in a small group and we were in the museum before it opened to the public, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds to see these magnificent documents. The rest of the tour was amazing and we learned a lot. We also were able to view the Magna Carta. Next time, we will go into the Boeing Learning Center. This museum is one that you should reserve online tickets for even if you do not take the tour.

Next, we set out to tour the monuments. The metro does not cover this area, so we chose to buy tickets for a hop on- hop off bus. I highly recommend doing this. There are several to choose from. We chose one from Groupon, but it did have downsides. The buses didn’t come as frequently and there were not as many stops. We did get a free night tour, so that made up for the other inconveniences. The Big Bus was popular and it can be bought at a discounted price with a purchase of the Washington D.C. Explorer Pass. We did end up purchasing an Explorer Pass for other things, but we found a better deal on it on Groupon.

Our first memorial stop was the Jefferson Memorial.


The second stop was the FDR memorial.



And the final memorial of the day was the Lincoln Memorial.


Before we went to the memorials we picked up a National Junior Ranger National Mall and Memorial folder with sheets to complete for each memorial for Madison to turn in and earn a National Junior Ranger pin. She was also able to stamp the back of the folder  with a stamp that had the date and the memorial name. The stamps were located in the bookstores by the registers of each memorial. The Jefferson Memorial had a really neat Park Ranger store.

Advertisements

Washington D.C. Day 1

This trip was very busy, but very rewarding. We had booked the airfare for this trip months in advance at a very good price. Finding a hotel was challenging, but in the end we feel we picked the perfect one within our price range. We ended up choosing the Grand Hyatt. It was in a safe area, was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and we were able to access the metro from below the lobby.

September was a great month to visit because it wasn’t crowded and the weather was perfect. When we checked into our hotel we were offered to upgrade to the Club Level. We chose to do this because they offered breakfast, snacks, appetizers and deserts. It also included a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos and included bottled water, sparkling water, milk, and sodas. We quickly added up the costs of bottled water ($4 in the gift shop), Starbucks for breakfast in the morning, etc. and the price for the upgrade was a better deal. We ended up eating a big lunch out everyday, but that was the only time we needed to eat a meal.




After we checked in we headed to the National Museum of American History. When we arrived, we took a Highlights tour. We learned the history behind many things including the Star Spangled Banner, George Washington’s uniform, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, the First Lady’s gowns, Julia Child’s Kitchen, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the chairs and table used by Lee and Grant during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, and much more. The amount to see is overwhelming. Of course after all of the history Madison learned and even with her love of American History, her favorite sight was a doll house. Yep, a doll house. It is a super cool doll house and she is now inspired to build her own from scratch. She went back later in the trip just to have Jeff take a picture of each room. Here is more information on the Dolls’ House.

The top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot. 

Madison posing as President with Regan’s administration.

After the American History museum we were tired. We had woken up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight. We had watched the sunrise while in the air and we were exhausted by this point so we called it a night.

Gifted Homeschooling Update September 2017

The past month has been a whirlwind. We have mainly focused on Madison’s online Intro to Composition class and completing US History II.

I feel that writing is a basic need for every other subject. It is a life skill. I wasn’t able to hold Madison accountable or motivate her like an outside resource could. I also knew that she needed feedback on her writing from someone other than me. And she also needed to learn how to meet deadlines and follow a schedule.

This Intro to Comp class has been wonderful. Overwhelming at first to work ahead for our vacation we took to Washington DC, but it was well worth it . She absolutely loves this class. She gets to work with other kids and is gaining so much knowledge in writing at the same time. I highly recommend any writing course that meets that criteria. It’s worth the push and I honestly believe it is better for kids in the end. The longer writing is put off the harder it is. It has to be a continual effort to succeed. It has taken up a majority of Madison’s time and it is times like this that I am so grateful we Homeschool. Madison is at different grades for each subject she is in, so we have the flexibility to put some things off while focusing and digging deeper into others.

She did complete US History II and US Government. By completing those before our trip to Washington DC, I felt she was able to get the most she could out of it because she had the background she needed to understand the references that were made. She was able to apply her knowledge to what she saw and experienced.

It was only our first trip. We plan on making another trip in the future, but this trip was phenomenal and I can’t wait to share it in upcoming posts.

Aside from her classes, Madison is enjoying piano lessons, chess, religion, and co-op which consists of Homeschool PE, lunch, cooking and Math mania.

She is beginning Wordly Wise 3000 book 7, continuing in Geography, Physical Science and Touch-Type Read and Spell.

For Math, we have gone backwards. Madison needed some more foundation skills in fractions to be able to successfully move forward to ratios and the conversion of fractions and decimals. I decided to try ST Math as one last attempt before getting a tutor. The Psychologist said she was a visual learner and this program is totally visual. There are no words. So far it seems to be working. We’ll see after she completes 5th grade and moves up. She says it is helping, so I am going to go off of that for now.

Madison is also working on programs called Dyslexia Gold and Luminocity. She is working on eye tracking and fluency with Dyslexia Gold and cognitive skills with Luminocity. We just started both so I hope to see improvement in these areas in the future.

I’m also going to write a future post regarding homeschooling and socialization. I do believe there is a strong stigma regarding the two that needs to be addressed. 

Our Homeschool Curriculum and Activities for 2017-2018


Here we go on our fourth year of homeschooling! I have finally learned that I always have a plan or an idea for a plan for what we are going to do for the year curriculum wise and then it ALWAYS changes. So here is my initial plan for this year. Ha! Ha! Also, this post contains affiliate links, so please see my disclosure policy for more information.

English:

  1.  Madison is going to be taking an Introduction to Composition course this year. It is an accredited, online class and she is really looking forward to it. I think it will be a great challenge for her and will help her writing immensely.
  2. Madison will also continue to use Wordly Wise 3000 online. She has just begun book 7. This is probably the only curriculum that we still use from the beginning. It is wonderful!

Math:

I just don’t even want to talk about Math right now. I think we are going to try AELKS. I will update with a post when I figure it out.

Science:

Madison finished Life and Earth Science through Accellus and just began Physical Science. While she onePhysical Science lesson a day, will begin our Moving Beyond the Page 11-13 units. We are going to start with Technological Design and then Earth Cycles and Systems, Force and Motion, The Hydrosphere again and The Atmosphere. This way she gets some hands on experiments. There are a TON of hands on activities in each of these units. She learns best visually, but she isn’t going to have fun just watching videos all of the time.

Social Studies/History:

Madison completed US History I and is finishing up US History II and US Government High School courses through Accellus in preparation for our upcoming trip to Washington D.C. Then she will finish up Middle School Geography. She was half way through this course and we stopped to focus on US History. Geography is not her favorite subject so this course was perfect for her. While it’s a long course, the videos are relatively short so even if it takes us forever to get through it, at least she will have it under her belt. She has already listened to all four volumes of Story of the World, so we are going to do Personal Finance next. Then we will look into CLEP and AP tests for US and World History.

Electives and Activities:

We joined a homeschool co-op and so once a week Madison will be taking a Homeschool PE class, a cooking class, and a Math Mania class. She is excited and is really looking forward to this co-op.

Madison will continue to do art through HomeArtSTudio and Meet the Masters.

She will continue her third year of piano lessons.

Madison will also continue her foreign language learning with Rosetta Stone Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set, Learn French: Rosetta Stone French – Level 1-5 Set, and Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian – Level 1-5 Set.

Most of her free time has been dedicated to playing Chess. See my post on A Girl and Her Love of Chess for more details.

Madison will also be doing Speech and Debate this Spring with the DFW Speech Club. Madison is not old enough yet, but when she turns 12, she cannot wait to join the Debate Club too!

A Girl and Her Love of Chess


Madison has always ‘liked’ chess, but recently she has engulfed herself in it. The past six months she has taken her love for chess to a much higher level.

Madison discovered chess tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy. She participated and learned how to use a chess clock and notate the game. At first it was a little intimidating, but after attending a few it became much easier. She also started taking private lessons with Coach Chris. Every single time we get into the car after one of her lessons she says, “I love Chess so much!” She not only understands the game so much better and not just technically, but also now is starting to understand the history, wonder, and the players that have achieved greatness. She has also attended camps that she enjoyed as well. And she has had the opporutnity to meet the newest champions that live in our area at North Texas Chess Academy. It has been quite a special experience!


Over the summer Madison took another chess camp through Mosaic with Alexey Root. Throughout the week the kids in the class play each other. At the end, the top two winners play each other. It was a complicated and grueling game, but Madison ended up winning. This boosted her self-confidence and what encouraged her need to grow and learn more about chess.

Madison’s birthday is over the summer and her Pen Pal that she has been writing back and forth with for 2 years sent her the perfect gift!

 

Madison also has a unique opportunity to have weekly small group online chess sessions for two hours with a Grandmaster. She loves these sessions and looks forward to them every week!

For the Fall, Madison plans on continuing all of the things above and has decided to join two chess clubs. The first one is with a local Catholic Homeschool Association. They will practice together and compete as a team in local Scholastic Chess Tournaments. The second club is an Online Homeschool Chess Club. They have weekly lessons and then participate in live, rated online chess tournaments twice a week.

She is very excited for these new endeavors. She has been playing chess for hours already, but it is much more fun when they are organized events where you can build friendships. 🙂 

Her favorite person to play though is her Papa. 

His gift is what encouraged her to learn to begin with. 🙂 


 

 

And Then It Was May


Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of months. Not just for me, but many others as well. 

At the end of March, Madison was accepted into the Davidson Young Scholar Program. Along with her testing it has opened many doors and is worth the time it takes to apply. The amount of resources and connections have been amazing and it has only been a couple of months…

I truly do believe we do not meet people by accident and that there is a higher power that leads us when we need it the most. I thank God for that every day. 

Madison’s testing solidified that she learns best visually. So, we switched things up a bit again. She is now using the program from Acellus. It has its pros and cons, but it is working. I’ll post more on the pros and cons and how we are getting around them in a separate post, but I am extremely grateful for this program and how well she’s doing with it. 

I had her look through the curriulum for the 11-13 age from Moving Beyond the Page and she chose which units she wanted to do. It has fun projects and presents itself well so we are digging deeper with it in the topics she is interested in. 

For the Fall, Madison has chosen to take an online Intro to Composition course, Speech and Debate, continuing piano, homeschool band, homeschool PE, and chess tournaments. 



I wanted to keep her schedule to just those things so that we are not ‘go, go, go’ all of the time and so she has downtime to collect all of her thoughts and work on projects, to play games and to have the freedom to be creative in an unstructured environment. 

I have not kept track of the books she has read which kills me, however I have a summer book list and so it will be easier going forward. She is re-reading a lot of her favorites that she enjoyed. 

Speech and Debate and Chess will take up a lot of her time. We are not used to that, but she loves them both so she is adjusting quite well. 

We are continuing school until Madison starts summer camps. 

I will get into more detail when I post about acellus, but Madison has blown me away with her progress. It actually freaks me out and is hard to digest sometimes. 

Chronologically, she would be at the end of Fourth Grade. 

Currently she is in 7th grade Math, 7th Grade Science, 7th grade Social Studies (Geography), she is finishing up 8th grade Language Arts and is in 9th grade US History I and US Governement. 

She is digging deeper into Greece and Rome and Greek Myths with Moving Beyond the Page. 

Her electives include computer science, keyboarding, piano, clarinet, Spanish, French, Italian, Chess and Speech and Debate. 

All of this is driven by her with the exception of Math. She is not fond of the Math she is doing now and we will have to figure out why, but so far she is getting A’s in all of her subjects and loves them. 

Then add in exercise. 

And I am tired. I’m not even teaching, but trying to make sure she is fulfilled is exhausting. And she’s verbally gifted, so even though I am not teaching, I am learning every detail she is. Trying to figure out tools to help her achieve her dreams is daunting at times.

I love her for who she is and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it isn’t a walk in the park. Not when you couple the thirst of knowledge and drive with how she learns best and the lack of executive functioning skills. We are working on those. One day at a time. Along with the rest of life’s duties. 

I fully get why gifted children are considered Special Needs. The time required to ensure their needs are met qualifies them 100%. 

And there are many positives and I try not to miss them and count my blessings. 

That’s another post for another day. 

Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time. 🙂 

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)