Lindsay Ogden is a busy mum living in Colorado, USA. Between running 5 Rings Web, a Drupal Web Development business and homeschooling her young son, she doesn’t have much time for anything else.
She has two kids. Leo, who just finished third grade, is almost nine and a gifted student that Lindsay decided to homeschool over a year ago and a six year old daughter who is in first grade at a public school. Leo was homeschooled once she discussed the option with his elementary school principal. He was having behavioral problems at school and the principal told her that Leo may be gifted. Upon testing him, they found this to be the case, yet the school was unable to accommodate Leo, so they brought him home. Every day Lindsay faces new and interesting challenges regarding Leo’s education.
“It’s not easy,” says Lindsay. “I feel like lately there hasn’t been enough science. There are ups and downs. People imagine that you sit down with your kid for five hours a day and go through regular school (work). We don’t necessarily go through a full day’s worth of schoolwork in a particular day.”
Lindsay’s reasons for placing Leo in homeschool were varied. “For one thing, he isn’t as easy going as my daughter. For the two and a half years he was in school he always said he didn’t have friends. That’s hard to hear. He was consistently coming home with discipline slips with red or yellow cards. He was on tier one of a three tier plan, where the third tier was expulsion. We never had a school teacher who liked him as he isn’t a teacher pleaser. He isn’t interested in working hard or achieving for achievements sake. He just was a poor fit culturally with school.”
Leo’s education doesn’t follow his age level due to his giftedness. “If his education was on par with the conventional systems, he would be back in the same boat he was in before. We have to keep it stepped up with a higher degree of rigor.”
Interestingly, Lindsay is free to teach Leo as she wishes with minimal governmental input. “In Colorado, the only public check that happens is in third, fifth and seventh grades. We have to do public testing. Either a certified teacher assesses him and submits a report to the state, or we have to take him for public testing at one of the schools—there are various options.”
As seemingly cut and dry as this process is, there are even more issues to consider. “We finished third grade math a few weeks ago and everything else is between fifth and tenth grades. We’re not sure how we are going to manage assessment as he isn’t in a particular grade.”
“His educational needs are very different from most children. They are different than the state understands and is willing to assess for. If we were to meet the state’s educational standards, we would be failing this child in a very significant way. He is capable of middle school chemistry, college level anatomy, sixth grade gifted vocab program—there is not set curriculum. It’s impossible to find a curriculum for a child like this. It doesn’t exist. It’s not possible.”
That said, Leo’s education isn’t limited to school work at home. Lindsay ties his interests and the world around him into lessons.
“My daughter started to sing the Old Clementine song and we took it apart. We sang the whole song and then we walked through it and talked about it. We learned what a miner-49er was, what herring boxes were, about brine and learned about meter. There are all kinds of things you can learn from common everyday things.”
Fortunately, Lindsay is able to utilize local homeschool groups to inject socialization in her son’s life. When asked if she would consider public school again she responded, “If an amazing public school popped up here in Fort Collins tomorrow that was capable of educating profoundly gifted children, I would consider sending him on a trial basis.”
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