Homeschooling an Asynchronous Tween
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
So many thoughts swirl around up top when it comes to my oldest son who is 12, about to be 13, and a "tween". He is this crazy smart kid who also happens to be dyslexic. In the gifted world they refer to this as 2E or Twice Exceptional. This comes with some very interesting and often frustrating, challenges. I also never in my wildest dreams thought I would be homeschooling an almost-teen. Seriously, never, ever did I ever think that I was competent enough to do it. But here we are winging it, dyslexia and all. I will give credit to my son's public middle school for giving him and invaluable semester of in-depth intervention for reading and writing. He was doing well before this class in the first semester of sixth grade, but after that semester he really soared. He had a fabulous teacher that understood the asychronies within him and catered to that by really challenging him to do more, and learn more. I wish she would have been his full-time teacher, perhaps we would still be waking up and taking him to school every morning at 7:45am.
So, here we are, doing this homeschooling "thing" and figuring it out as we go. Literally. I reassess what I am doing for him every couple of months. There is no use staying with a process that is no longer working for him. He can change curriculum, if needed, he can find another avenue to fulfill a need, rather it be to accommodate a subject matter need or a writing challenge. Sixth grade was his first and last year at public middle school. We had an awful time getting them to fulfill his educational needs (read: asynchronies) on both sides of the scope (reading intervention plus advanced math and science). The public school could only see one end of the stick. It is a stark contrast to the year he has had for "seventh" grade. I put that word in quotes because if you are a homeschooling family reading this, you know grades are relative and if you are not a homeschooling family then let me tell you, grades are relative.
We decided for seventh that we were going to ditch middle school curriculum for almost all subjects because most middle school curriculum is watered down high school curriculum and my oldest, being who he is, simply needed more. We fulfilled his asychronies by letting him take high school classes for math and science at home, a 7th/8th mixed class for ELA/SS class at our ALE (Alternative Learning Experience) school, where he can take enrichment classes at including PE, Art, Orchestra, Zine (a creative writing class), Musical Theater, and so on, were a mix of middle and high school students. We were able to meet all of his needs on an individual basis with the appropriate grade level, work level, and subject that was built for his specific needs. Next year will be an entirely different beast as he got permission from and accepted to the local junior college to begin classes. We did this for one main reason - I could no longer provide him what he needs at home. Even if I were to buy a curriculum and try to implement it myself, or help him along in an online based format for learning, there are some things I cannot do such as Chemistry lab experiments on the level he wants, Algebra II through Calculus, Physics, and the list begins to get pretty long for a kid who has made it clear that his path will be in the sciences.
You might be asking 'Well, don't all kids have asynchronies?' Short answer is yes, there is some uneven learning but not near the breadth at which a gifted child does, and 2E children at an even steeper unevenness than that. Here is an interesting article called "If Gifted = Asynchronous Development, then Gifted/Special Needs = Asynchrony Squared" on the extremities of learning within gifted and gifted + learning / behavior issues by Martha Morelock that explains it well. Getting a child to meet their special needs requirements while fulfilling their academic / learning needs for potentially 2 or 3+ grade levels above where they are chronologically, can become cumbersome to advocate for in public school, as it was for us, and homeschooling is another path that many choose to do, including us.
As I am going through this teen+gifted+dyslexia+help-I-am-running-out-of-knowledge, I am trying to navigate the wide world of high school and college resources to help us out. While there are free resources out there, a lot of them require me be able to help or do not provide the right resources for him. He is one year too young to be eligible for Running Start money (here as long as you are chronologically in high school, they will allow him to begin his two years free tuition program), and we are choosing not to graduate him early so we are ineligible for FAFSA / Pell Grant money. You can see where things can get hairy and pricey!
If you have a gifted teen or a 2E'er, what are you doing for upper-level type classes? I would love to hear! Sometime in the future I will gather everything I can in terms for resources so we can have them all in one spot!