He loves rockets, Legos and playing Minecraft. He loves to read, but only rocket books in the nonfiction section. His parents think he is probably only looking at the pictures instead of reading the actual words. He tests average in school and struggles with math. Homework is a nightly chore and often there are tears when it comes time for Devin to finish his math worksheet. Devin could talk for hours about Minecraft or rockets and often does on car rides alone with a parent. Devin’s teacher is concerned that Devin doesn’t do well in his school reading group and cannot pass the comprehension test after each book. His parents and teachers are beginning to think he has a learning disorder.
We’ll get back to Devin and his learning disorder in a moment. But first, let’s talk about some REAL LIFE geniuses you may know.
Albert was labeled a slow-learner as a young child in elementary school. He got average grades. Albert loved to stack a house of cards and got very good at it. He also loved to build toy models. Albert struggled with long division and hated to memorize. He didn’t like sports and was considered by many as “dull-witted”. He teacher suggested that he leave school at 15, which he did. Albert Einstein became a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, famous for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum theory and statistical mechanics.
Thomas was a daydreamer. His teachers labeled him “addled” and a slow learner. His mother decided to homeschool him instead. Thomas Edison became the most famous and productive inventor of all time, with more than 1,000 patents in his name, including the electric light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera. He became a self-made multimillionaire and won a Congressional Gold Medal.
Walt struggled in school and was dyslexic. He dropped out at 16 and became an artist instead. Walt Disney became a multimillionaire founder of the Walt Disney Company and after winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he received an honorary high school diploma at age 58.
John was a poor speller and had serious problems in school. He later discovered a love for music and lyrics. John Lennon started a band called The Beatles, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest pop songwriters of all time.
Thomas struggled in school and his teachers said he was incapable of learning. He didn’t learn to read until he was nine. Thomas Jefferson became the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, third president of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia.
George had trouble spelling and was told he had trouble learning. George Washington became probably the best known founding father of the United States and the first U.S. President.
Learning Disorder or Genius?
One of the greatest tragedies of education is our attempt as parents, as teachers, to label our children. Whether we label them as difficult, a daydreamer, hyperactive, dyslexic, or as simply having a learning disorder, we attach with it a negative connotation. What does this do to our children?
I believe it inhibits them from becoming who they are.
Take standardized tests. You’ve got children from all backgrounds, with various strengths and weaknesses, all testing on the same standard curriculum that they may or may not fully comprehend. You’ve got children who read slowly yet excel at memorization and children who have mastered focus but can’t seem to work through word problems or multiple choice questions. How can any of these tests truly determine a child’s educational growth if we are using the same test on every child?
Some may say this: “We need to evaluate children. Testing helps us determine the level the child is at in the curriculum.” I feel that parents, teacher, and administrators are so concerned with if a child is ahead or behind, they haven’t stopped to imagine that maybe, just maybe, the child is just where he/she is supposed to be, regardless of what the test scores show.
Every Child is a Genius.
I believe that every child is a genius. But I also believe that every child has strengths and weaknesses and if every child is made to fit into a perfect square, then many children will fail.
How Children (and adults) Learn.
Have you ever wondered how you learn? I’m not talking about your education as a child or as an adult. I’m talking about how you learn. Surely there are things you know NOW that you didn’t know as a fresh college graduate.
Well then, how did you learn those things? Who taught you? Who created the curriculum for you to learn?
If I were to guess, I would say you found something that interested you, you used your strengths, you talked to others about it, and applied a good dose of passion. Voila! You learned something.
In your eyes, maybe it wasn’t something spectacular. Maybe it was how to build a tree house for your kids, or how to make homemade bread. Maybe it was creating art, or learning how to play an instrument.
Maybe what you do best can help others, and you learned how to distribute that skill to others. Maybe you’ve even turned it into a profitable business. Maybe you learned how to enact your passion, or just a step on the journey towards making your passion real. Either way, you didn’t need somebody to assign it, and you didn’t need a curriculum to learn it.
Now Let’s Get Back to Devin.
Remember him? He’s the one who loves robots, Legos and playing Minecraft. He’s the one who struggles with completing his school work, but loves to read non-fiction books about rockets.
His parents and teachers are concerned with his reading comprehension. But have they ever realized that Devin can comprehend fine with his rocket books?
They are concerned with his inability to progress in math, but have they realized that Devin already has an interest in math, physics and science and has the ability to progress in it if shown how to apply it in his areas of interest?
The Solution at Home and School:
You may say that an individualized education is too complex, even impossible. The truth is, every day millions of parents are accomplishing this every day by homeschooling. (2.04 million in the United States to be exact.) Is it possible? Absolutely.
The purpose of my article today isn’t to convince everybody to homeschool their children. For many reasons, some parents simply cannot homeschool. My purpose today is to point out that each child is a genius. My purpose is to encourage parents to not live in fear of their child being “behind.” While you’re worried about test scores, the honor roll, and future scholarships, I urge you to pause and think about the people you are creating.
Are you creating people with “learning disorders” who will always feel that they are not good enough? Or are you creating people who’ve developed their inner genius, who can use their talents to find their passion and make a change in the world? Most importantly, are you creating people who will have an amazing time doing it?
Read my articles on our method of homeschooling called unschooling:
- Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Albert Einstein
- 15 Notable People Who Dropped Out of School
- Famous People with Learning Disabilities
- Learning Styles
Edison was a hack and a bitter loser. Einstein was OK but no means a truly talented genius. You failed to mention Tesla. Now that was a genius.
janice campbell says
I taught school for 31 years, I learned how to work my classroom according to individual needs. I did this by using interest groups, I taught the curriculum and skills within their interest. I took classes that helped me learn our the brain works. My kids did excel at their own pace, I took the time to learn how to do this because I was one of those students. One day I hope that we can figure out all this because this is where the discipline comes from, children not understanding and feeling left out of the norm.
Thank you for appreciating the different types of learning, for sure many of those children remember you fondly
Rochelle Venable says
I feel that having a learning disorder and being a genius can be synonymous. I can only speak from the experience that I’m having with my own son. Knowing he was having learning difficulties, but not knowing how to help him created a landslide of self-esteem issues for him. We recently were given the gift of a name for what he struggles with and it’s dyslexia. Now we can celebrate. We have the answer and now we can move forward. I can teach him the way that he needs to learn. Hopefully one day he’ll learn to love himself the way that I do, cherish his special mind, and rally his strengths to fulfill his genius.
(farm expert) Bobbi Luttjohann says
That’s great you learned what your son’s learning difficulty is! Just knowing what it is, is half the battle. When you know what you are dealing with you can create a plan of attack that works best for your son. I have confidence that with your great attitude and loving help your son will grow, prosper, and come to realize how amazing he (and his mom) really are! Keep fighting the good fight! Best wishes! -Bobbi (DaNelle’s Assistant)
chenelle shoaf says
Thank you DaNelle for dispelling the myth some people hold about learning disorder. Most of the genius we are all familiar with are probably unique in their God-given talents. While some of them experience some problems with learning in the earlier stages, their future was actually determined by how they directed their own life. Einstein for instance, knew that he had some talents, that’s why he called his teacher’s bluff. Another aspect that helped these people is that they had good mothers (or good parents). Look at most popular geniuses and you will see that they have great mothers too.
This is a wonderful article. I have spend most of my life doubting myself and thinking I was dumb. In second grade my parents were told I had a learning disability. Consequently, I was pulled from the normal classroom until middle school. I ended up repeating a grade. My parents were advised to not have a college savings for me because I wouldn’t pass high school. Currently, I have a BA with a 3.9 in music and I’m currently enrolled in a BS program for nursing, on track to graduate with a 4.0. I have been fortunate enough to have a few influential teachers and supportive parents. I do, however, still have self doubt in my intelligence. Hopefully teachers are not so quick to judge and don’t give up on their students.
Robert Toth says
See my tribute to Genius
Start by opening my site > http://www.RobertTothSculptor.com > Click on Montessori Icon top right of my homepage to read about my Montessori early exposure / Also click on info/press
See Beethoven > Einstein > Darwin > Freud > Tesla > Edison > Da Vinci and others
Thank you for feedback
Rochelle Venable says
This is what would have happened had I not pulled my third grader from his school and started homeschooling. Congrats on your success!
Blaming many of these concerns on the schools as if they are displaying an alleged lack of concern is simply misinformation. Public schools have minimal input when it comes to selecting appropriate curriculum and this is not a simple process, especially in larger school districts. Certainly teachers who mistreat students or label or insult students are acting completely inappropriately and should be removed from the field. However, seeking out information about how schools support students who are struggling to meet grade-level standards is a better practice than doing something extreme like removing them from school entirely. This recommendation is insensitive to those who can’t provide this type of education to their children or may have learning difficulties that preclude them from doing this as well. Perpetuating this myth that there is simply no hope for children who have some challenges in school other than unschooling/homeschooling makes you no better than the very teachers and administrators you are maligning. In addition, when students “don’t qualify” for services, that means they do not demonstrate a need for specialized services due to an adverse educational impact…doing some research on IDEA would be a good place to start. There are specific categories under which students meet criteria. None of these categories are ADHD or Learning Disorder. Also, these categories provide information and multidisciplinary assessment reports that are created by multiple assessors provide essential information in myriad areas–language, cognitive skills, adaptive behavior, social-emotional functioning, etc. These “standardized tests” you ridicule are actually norm-referenced or criterion-referenced assessments that go through extremely rigorous processes to ensure validity and reliability in an effort to minimize the biases you claim they maximize. Also, this “testing” is considered a best practice and the legal timelines that accompany this process are actually in place to protect the student from being inappropriately labeled or stigmatized. A better area of research to look at is the growing body related to parents bullying schools and increasing levels of personality disorders related to inappropriate parenting practices…including protecting children from everyday challenges to more significant struggles, all of which improve resilience. Lastly, before going to extremes with alternating placement, if a student does not become eligible for additional supports through special education, there should still be supports available through the general curriculum in your school–THIS IS THE LAW. Look into RTI, or Response to Intervention, and the Multi-tiered Support Systems approach to supporting students before waiting to fail and put them through an exhaustive testing battery only to find that they do not meet criteria for special education services. Intervening earlier allows students to receive support earlier and is endorsed on a federal and local level…again familiarizing yourself with legislation is better than anecdotal experience or hearsay. Do your research, be a parent, work hard—teachers work hard for you, for very little. Good luck, and remember that reading skills, social skills, resiliency, all are major indicators of success later in life. Intervene early, don’t just hug your kid and tell him he can look at rockets. They just might resent you when they’re grown up, and you might kick yourself when you look at the research on efficacy of phonics instruction as people age.
Awesome! Well said, my friend?
Educated, stop being so defensive. It seems to me that the point of the article is that public school is NOT a one size fits all solution. It never has and in its current state never can be. How can one teacher in a class of 25 1st graders of different backgrounds, support and intelligence with a government mandated curriculum meet the optimized needs of each child? From the child that just learned to read to the child reading at a third grade level. Teachers do the the best they can meeting the median need and not truly able to advance all of the children’s needs. Why? Because they are one person. For children to get the education they deserve, they would need one instructor per child educating them in a way that suits the INDIVIDUAL learner. That is not the way our education system is set up (and realistically how can it be?) . Children are expected to learn in the same way with very little accommodation for differences in learning styles, that is where we are in America. For parents with the will and ability to home school their children I say go for it. For parents with the availability and means to send their children to charter or private schools that fit their children’s needs then kudos to them. Why does support for homeschool mean you do not support public school? We need to support multiple approaches to learning after all in the end its what is best for the individual CHILD, not our egos.
mark blackburn says
Dear Educated, let me guess……..you work for a government school? You sound like a doctor who has only aspirin in his toolbox. You prescribe aspirin for every malady from ear aches to sinus infections to stress fractures to chickenpox to lung cancer. Centralized government agencies always do best with one-size-fits-all solutions. I salute the many parents who have of necessity looked outside the government educational complex.
great article, concise and to a very profound point!
I wish I got my teachers to read this when I was ridiculed
My daughter has all A’s on her report card. However, her STAR testing in Reading and Math continue to go down instead of up. She tells me when taking these tests that the test times out and she will miss a few. She consistently has homework because she takes extra time to complete assingments. She doesn’t have the focus. Her teacher said that it often can take her two days to finish a test.
My senior year in high school a teacher discovered that I had severe test anxiety. I can verbally tell you in a story or answering questions (without choices no matching, t/f, or multiple choice) the answer but when given the choices it overwhelms me and I do poorly. She was the first and only person to ever discuss this with me. I believe my daughter is a lot like me.
Everyone loves her and compliments her sweet nature. She lacks confidence though we try to encourage her in many different ways.
It’s frustrating because teacher doesn’t seem to know how to motivate her. Summer school has been recommended but they play so much. Not really sure how to help her and the school isn’t giving me ideas on how to help her.
I can totally relate to how you feel and I’m sure my son can relate to your daughter. My son is a very bright child. He loves the planets and science…..his most favorite subjects. He has no issue focussing when it comes to these subjects! But when it comes to math and writing about subjects he’s not interested in, it’s extremely difficult for the teachers to motivate him. He’s been labeled ADD (adhd without the hyperactivity). Which honestly, I believe adhd is just an umbrella name for “we as doctors and teachers don’t know why your child can’t focus at certain times so we will stick this label on it. They don’t try to investigate the why because it costs money.
We take him to a chiropractor and have seen an improvement since beginning that. He also did cranial sacral therapy and saw an improvement there as well. As a matter of fact, I’m considering bringing him back to that.
He was also tested for Irlen Syndrome. It is a sensitivity to glare from light but flourescentl lighting in particular (which is everywhere). I am urging anyone reading this to please go to http://www.irlen.com and do the free online screening to see if this could be one of the layers or the answer for your struggling learner. It runs in families and we heard about it because both of my sister-in-laws boys have it. Ask your children these very specific questions: “What does it look like when you try to read for awhilel” “Do the letters/numbers ever move around on the page?”
These are questions no one knows to ask and yet it can be the reason for their struggling. Someone who is dyslexic can also have this and it is sometimes misdiagnosed as dyslexia! After my son was diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, I read Helen Irlen’s entire book “Reading by the Colors” which I borrowed from the library…it is very informative!
Luckily my son attends a very supportive Montessori Charter School and he has grown alot in the 4 yrs he’s been there.
By the way, Thank you to the person who wrote this article. It touched me in a really positive way with a few tears. 🙂
As parents and teachers we DO NEED to focus on their strengths!!….and verbally point them out to our struggling learners who many of them get their fill of negativy throughout the day.
Ooops! Not Sam. Sorry Sam! I was referencing the hate filled Slight9. Yes, that’s the one who may be doing all kinds of wonderful on paper with his children, but he’s a nasty SOB, and that’s what the takeaway will be for his children. I really hope he’s just a bored troll, and not a real parent.
Julia MCGee says
My grandson is smart when it comes gf ames on dsl or minecraft on computer loves tv can tell you how to get from al to mich.but it comes to school and homework it’s a zero. His I
minebis on getting home to play. He can build leggos by only looking at the picture. I say he’s autisic
His mom thinks it A.D.D. meds make him lifeless in school he can eat wont sleep. Just dead like. Is ho m e school a good solution
Seriously, get him on to a healthy diet. Take away the sweets & sodas. Find out what is going on in his life. I am not a Dr. but I know from what you wrote that there is something going on that can not be fixed with drugs. Get a second and or third opinion on his diagnoses. Be careful not to use a referral from the Drs who have already diagnosed him. Children should not need drugs at a young age to slow them down. Check for contaminants in your home, water, and yard also. Yes, kids and the public can be cruel and he may need one on one schooling at home if there is someone who has the knowledge and ability to teach him I would give it a try. Best of luck!
Love this article and to know that all these famous and important people went through the same as my girl, it has giving me a scene of calmness to my nerves. My 2nd grader struggles so much in her class in reading, math and language arts (Common core issues my guess) She is in the Advance learners program and I been thinking of taking her out for the 3rd grade. In late August all the 2nd graders got tested (Raven test) I think its an IQ test with puzzles. Well to my surprise many parents who their children are exceptional in class were complaining to the teacher. They were upset that their child were not going to continued with the GATE program 3rd and the rest of the grades. I called the Gate office to ask why I hadn’t received any letter about my daughters grades. Well she said that It was a good thing because only letters were sent to parents of children who were not considered gifted and were going to be dropped from the program the following school year. I was still confused and ask what was my daughters score. Well since yesterday I’m still startle by her answer. “Your child is considers gifted she ranked at a 99% on her test. I guess as a parent my duty is to always help my girl to be the best she can be. So proud of my girl I knew she had something special in her.
I can’t thank you enough for writing this article. I have a little boy who has delayed speech and will be seeing a speech pathologist in January. My mind has been running non stop on all the different possibilities.
You have helped me feel at ease. Thank you kind stranger.
It’s like they say. “Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”
When my daughter was in second grade she was reading at a .9 reading level. Not even a first grade level. She had done T-! so holding her back was not an option because she was already one of the oldest kids in her class. We had her tested and she tested as having ADHD. Later her school tested her and she was labeled as having Dyslexia also. I noticed she was not her self for the following week. When I asked her what was wrong she told me she was stupid because she had dyslexia. I asked her if she knew what it was and she replied NO. SO, We got on line and looked up all the people who has dyslexia and focused on the more positive side of having it. She loves art and loved to discover that Leonardo da Vinci.had this same gift. She now looks at it as a gift rather then a label. She is and amazing artist and builder of things. I knew she was very gifted when her kindergarten teacher called me to her room to show me her art…that was on the back of every paper she did. She NEVER drew stick people. Not ever. From the time she picked up a pencil she drew people with full details right to the belly button, forest pictures with tiny knot holes in the trees for mice. AMAZING. Sorry my point was I loved this story and I hate the word DISORDER and want to have it taken out of schools all together. Its a difference but who is to say they are the one that is different. Like you said she is a Guinness. Maybe not in the little square the school puts her in but in the real world….wow she is going to do amazing things. I encourage everyone who is blessed with a special child like this to help them focus on the amazing thing they can do with this gift…not disorder!!!!!!!
DaNelle Wolford says
Love this story!!
Inner Genius Montessori says
Thank you for this great article. as a teacher, it has always been my desire to help kids who are in need of special attention. This is an inspiration to continue what i am doing.Hope you make more articles regarding this topic. God Bless!
This was fabulous. I was homeschooled growing up and my mom and I used to joke that if I had been a tad bit younger and in school, I would have surely been diagnosed with ADHD. Well, as I grew up and moved out on my own, I started to notice some areas where I struggled and started doing some research. I approached my mom and told her that may in fact have ADHD. Without hesitating, she nodded in affirmation.
She had that gut instinct all those years and yet never once labeled me. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to embrace my strengths and have time away from the scrutiny of the outside world to work on my weaknesses.
Great summary of information. I would like to say that as a teacher, a parent, and grandparent raising Grandkids, the focus on standardizing everything comes more from an over-empowered government and not so much from parents and teachers. It is starting to look as though more parents are realizing this and are standing against standardized curriculum, such as Common Core in many states, and C-scope in Texas. When I went to school for my teacher certification, we were still told to think “out of the box” in order to reach students where they are. In recent years, teachers are told to “stay in their lane” with a standardized curriculum. Not only does this restrict capitalizing on many “teachable moments” that occur and encourage higher level thinking, it prevents or restricts rebuilding/reteaching skills necessary to further build on. There are many causes for our predicament, but my personal opinion and the opinion of most of my teacher friends/peers, is that the people deciding the direction of our educational system need to listen, truly listen, then act on the input from parents and teachers.
google plus android app says
Good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
I’ve book marked it for later!
Nadine Woods says
Great post!! I removed my son from traditional school in the second grade to homeschool him. His teachers were *horrified* as he was dyslexic with severe speech delays! As far as they were concerned I was unqualified to teach a normal student, much less someone with his special needs! The irony is that no one was more motivated to see him succeed than I was.
I think the greatest lesson my son learned in traditional school was that he was “stupid.” I can’t tell you how many years it took for him to unlearn that. I won’t say it was easy for him as he had to work much harder than his sister, but once he finally did realize that he was smart, his learning really took off. Today he is working on his PhD in electrical engineering, and this summer he will be interning at the National Research Lab, Words cannot express how grateful I am that God *pushed* me into homeschooling him. I hope others will realize that a parent”s motivation to see their child succeed can overcome all sorts of obstacles.
DaNelle Wolford says
What an amazing story!
Thanks for sharing your story!!
Oh how I’m inspired by this post~ I have a little Devin at home. He’s a great reader though and instead of rockets he soaks up physics, space and the elements. Is squirmy in his seat and hates being timed for math because he gets anxious, and his coping skills are weak. We have been consistently been told what his problems are and are trying to help him learn in this tough-for-him school environment. I’m keeping an open mind on it–I’d like him to be social w/others while learning but if it ever gets bad for him, I’m willing to do what it takes–home school if necessary -he will succeed. Your post gives all of us hope–thank you!
Thank you for the article. We homeschool now, but my daughter had teachers on both ends of the spectrum. Her kindergarten teacher told me that my daughter was the brightest student she had ever taught (in her 17 years as a teacher). Her 1st grade teacher told me in October that my daughter would fail 1st grade, not because she wasn’t smart, but because she was too immature to pass on to 2nd grade. How can you tell that in 7 months time a student will not be ready to pass when the student can do the work?
I homeschool one child on a fraction of what it costs the state. She is offered an individualized education, great socialization opportunities, and is sometimes ahead, sometimes behind. All of this and she deals with ADHD, sleep disorder, and is gifted. Sometimes when she is 2-3 years ahead in science, 2 years behind in social studies, and struggling with math, I need the reminder that she is where she is supposed to be and it will all even out in the end. I appreciate the reminder, because it seems to be difficult for me to remember that her asynchronous learning is part of who she is. Thanks again.
The description of Devin describes my daughter almost to a tee. She attends a private faith-based school because I love the benefits it brings. She struggles in some areas such as math, and the resources are not as available as they are in the local public schools. When she was in public school she had access to these services but I found them to be a “one size fits all” situation and mired in bureaucracy, while at the same time applying standardized measurements that, I believe, all too often simply missed the mark. Homeschooling is not an option for her as I am divorced from her mother and we share equal custody. A homeschooling plan would just not work in our situation. I would like to supplement her learning at home but am in the dark on available resources to do this. Can you suggest where I can look for materials and support. She is in 5th grade and I know this, and the next few years are very important.
Any help would be appreciated.
Katie Mc says
Thank you for this article! My son is 7 and has severe Dyslexia and Dysgraphia and Ocular Motor Dysfunction. His school is just not equipped nor educated on any of the above and I feel at times I am beating my head against a wall. I have started a advocacy group in my state that is part of Decoding Dyslexia. We have only met 5 times so far since January and we are just in northern part of the state 50+ members. This has brought so much hope and encouragement not only to us as parents but to the kids. My son is a brilliant artist and loves legos and the ipad. He has now expressed interest in learning to play drums and skateboarding which we are seeking out lessons on both now. He has a beautiful heart and is FEARLESS!
Amazing! You put my thoughts into words.
Although I believe you have a valid concern with labeling and agree that with a more growth minded outlook (without label) our children will be more successful, I feel the rest of the world is not yet ready to view our children this way. I resisted for many years labeling, knowing Dweck’s work well, I always emphasized effort. I only introduced the label of dyslexia after my child started to calling himself lazy, after two painful years with educators that labeled him lazy or stupid, punishing and shaming him for his weaknesses. I felt the need to shield him from ignorance, I needed to provide him hope. He is now well aware of his strengths and is no longer as concerned with his weaknesses. The famous dyslexics/visual spatial learners you list above are his heroes. He doesn’t think of them as dyslexic, he thinks of them as amazing thinkers that succeeded despite their challenges. Once the world at large will accept all of us as unique there will no longer be a need for any labels.
I 110% agree with this article. My oldest son is 6 years old. He was a late talker and we worried. He struggles with reading (at the end of Grade 1 they would like to see him at a Level I or Level J; he is currently reading at a Level C). His social skills are behind compared to most of his peers. However, he is very good at math and he loves science. He is a very intelligent child however because he is not “average” so to speak across the board there is concern of a learning disability. The only reason I would seek a label is to better understand how he thinks and how to help him in areas that he struggles. I don’t think of him as having a learning disability – I think of him as a bright young boy who may learn differently then others. I have always struggled with math myself and as a child who was homeschooled my Dad would get so frustrated because he would try to teach me, what to him, was a basic math concept and I just could not understand. I’d be in tears. However, if he could find a different way to explain it to me – BOOM! Just like that I got it.
Good and bad on each end of the spectrum. The only answer is to be open minded enough and free of judgment of others’ choices. Realize that every family is different and has different needs. Home schooling may meet a family’s needs and interests. Private school may be a good option. And, for some, public school does actually have something to offer. As for socialization, home education tops that, hands down! So many more options are available and the wide range of opportunities are endless. But, a home schooling family needs to also include structure and personal responsibility, and variety (not just focus on the one or two areas that the child likes). I home schooled for 25 years, graduating six students. The younger four I placed in a small private school…and they LOVE it! I miss them being at home but I see where a school setting is preparing them for the real world of personal responsibility i.e. schedules, answering to others, facing the challenge of defeat and competition. These things are important and I know, because of myself and many friends that homeschool, they often get overlooked. The greatest struggle mine had going into school from being homeschooled was to stop relying on me to “give” them the answers. Whenever they get a B or a C on an assignment or get demerits, they have to accept responsibility. The negative thing about school, at least a private school that doesn’t have much to offer for extra-curricula such as music, art, and sports. Homeschoolers get much more opportunities for those important things. Public schools have those subjects available but the curriculum leaves out the most important subject… God!
One of my daughters was diagnosed in grade 5 with having a learning disorder. We did not discover this because she was doing poorly in school, we discovered the learning disorder because I had her tested for giftedness!
Now fast forward a few years: the same daughter calls me in tears from university. She is taking Honors Kinesiology and she is getting dismal exam results in Anatomy. All tests are administered via multiple choice format and she is flunking! All I said to calm her down, was – “remember the learning disorder you have? It probably has something to do with that. You will figure it out – you have before.” Two weeks later she let me know that she had figured out how to study for a multiple choice test. She is off and running again and proud of herself for figuring this out herself.
A learning disorder viewed as a challenge will bring much more positive results for life learning than medication, labeling or exclusion.
To use an analogy: It doesn’t make sense to expect anyone to keep writing with a hand they miss – teach them to use the one they have.
I recently pulled my dyslexic son out of private school and began homeschooling. Your statement about “every child is a genius” is well-supported by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Your example of Devin is a good example of that theory. I have also found the book, The Dyslexic Advantage, to be extremely enlightening.
Some of the ‘facts’ presented are a little off.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 1.5 million students were homeschooled in 2007. They do not have data any more recent than that. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_040.asp If 2 million parents are homeschooling successfully maybe it is because they outnumber the students.
Whose standards were used to classify John Lennon, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney, etc. as geniuses?
If every child is a genius then, by definition, no child is a genius.
I agree that labels can be harmful and should be avoided.
Isn’t calling a child a ‘genius’ putting a label on them?
Saying that someone has a learning disorder means that they do not learn the same as the norm, or average. Devin may be a genius when it comes to rockets, but it would appear he does not learn the same as the average person.
Whether it involves a parent or a public school teacher I have a great concern about qualifications. If you have never learned karate, how can you teach karate to someone else? Similarly, if you have never learned Spelling, Grammar, or Geometry how can you teach them to someone else? There are people who are good at teaching. Some teach at home and some teach in schools. Likewise, there are people who are bad at teaching. They teach in the same places.
“Standardized tests are bad,” You say. Okay, let’s try something different. Let’s assume Devin is in 5th grade, since we don’t know for certain. We will ask Devin to explain how a rocket works utilizing at least one visual aid. We will ask Jane, a fictitious average child of the same age, to play Beethoven’s 5th symphony on the piano without music to look at. We will also ask Billy, a fictitious average child of the same age to read a three page story, write a five sentence summary of the story, and recite his times tables to twelves. All of them perform exceedingly well. We give them similar tests of increasing difficulty each year until they are 18 years old and they graduate. You are the Dean of a state college and all three submit applications. Which ones do you accept? Maybe that’s unfair. They are all 22 years old now and only Billy was able to earn a Bachelor’s Degree because the college isn’t willing to hire specialized teachers for Devin or Jane. You are a manager at a publicly traded aerospace engineering firm who is trying to win a contract with the Department of Defense. All three apply for the same position. Who do you hire? There is a reason for standardized tests, even if they are bad and wrong. There is a reason for labeling students, even if that label seems hurtful and harmful. That label is the only way the school can get funding from the Federal Government to hire a teacher that specializes in teaching children with learning disorders. As wrong as it may seem and as much as it may hurt, those tests and those labels are the only way the government can be assured that funding those specialized teachers is justified. The process may be broken, but it’s the best one we have.
I definitely agree with a lot of what you say. Kids develop at their own pace, when they are ready. I have two elementary aged kids that are late bloomers in reading. My fifth grader is now reading at the fifth grade level. My second grader (who reads at what’s considered a first grade level) gets very frustrated and anxious about going to reading group. This affects how he feels about school and how he views himself. There is too much pressure on kids to perform at a young age. Even my kindergardener has taken computerized standardized testing this year! Kids that are within normal developmental guidelines are viewed as being behind. I do not blame teachers. Legislators who know little about early childhood development are trying to “fix” the educational system. Teachers are forced into pressuring kids to master skills whether or not they are ready. Its time parents and teachers united on the side of our children.
Great article. Love the message. One quibble, Walt Disney was not dyslexic. When I see this quoted in an article, it makes me doubt the rest of the information presented. https://www.edublox.com/walt-disney-dyslexia.htm
Aubry Miller says
Just saying on the Thomas Edison thing, he is not the inventor of the lightbulb. He was solely the seller. Nikola Tesla was actually the smart guy who SHOULD get credit for his amazing inventions. You need to read about Thomas Edison and how he was a jerk to Nikola Tesla and was a fake.
Good job on the article though!
Dr Vaughan L says
You are completely right! Tesla did invent the light bulb! BUT. It was pretty sh*t and not at all like anything we have today. Edison dedicated years of his life, and over 10,000 prototypes to produce a filament that would burn for hundreds of hours, as opposed to the minutes that Tesla’s bulbs stayed on for. Edison put far more effort in than Tesla and it is widely know that he was the one who perfected, not invented. Edison also had over 2000 original patents globally, so to call him a fake and a jerk is a bit…
My husband and I discussed homeschooling briefly when our first born was still a baby. As his personality became more apparent, I shied away from it out of fear that I’d get annoyed with him too easily. (Basically, he’s got a LOT of me in him.) And we didn’t talk about it again until last year. We finally made the decision, and I wanted to do my best for both my boys, so I am taking this one school year to learn as much about how they learn as I can so that I can do my best to teach them the basics and let their love of learning take over from there.
I have two sons, one 11 and one 17. My older son has been in public school in the US all of his school career. He has done well and is in an early college learning program and will graduate high school next year with an advanced diploma and a college Associates Degree. However, my younger son started to really struggle in 2nd grade and so I took him out to homeschool him. He struggles with ADHD and possibly Aspergers or SPD. It has not been easy, but I have learned a lot about him and about our education system. In fact my older son has weighed in on this and is currently writing a paper about Finland’s very successful public education model. Everyone should look at what they are doing and how they are accomplishing it. If you Bing ‘Finland’s education system’ you will find lots of info about it. I really wish the US could do something similar.
I totally enjoyed your article and agreed with many of the things you say here. I taught music for nearly 9 years in the public school system. There was a lot of teaching to the test going on. I do think that some teachers care about their students on a deeper level than what you are saying in this article. The trouble really is the system. Did you know that in the state of Texas, more than 50% of new teachers quit the teaching profession within the first five years of their career? I was lucky and got a job teaching elemtary music which came with its own challenges.
Anyway it’s so strange to see a teacher on here trying to say that because they have the training, they are more qualified than a parent to teach. Then saying that using a child’s interests in rockets would be too narrow. From my experience, kids do have a wide range of interests and in some of the local private schools around here, they teach according to a child’s interests and many offshoot subjects develop as a result. Funny how these kids in the private schools wind up scoring higher on the standardized test than public school students on the average.
I’d also like to make another point to Sam, the teacher who wrote against homeschooling. My older sister home schools two of her children. She uses a curriculum that is very well rounded. Her daughter was reading at age three and is above the public school children in many subject areas. She uses a curriculum but also has the time to follow the interests of her children. Her children are learning how to program their own educational iPhone apps in hopes to create a math game for other children. They are earning belts in martial arts. They build their own toy cars and have impressive artistic skills. All of these things are things that their parents taught them except the martial arts. No, they don’t report to a job like environment, but they are developing skills to go along with their education that will last a life time. Most public schools just don’t offer these kinds of things. Her children also meet with a homeschool coop in her area and take part in other social groups as well.
I’m not saying all public schools are bad. I know there are some great ones out there, but many parents just don’t want to buy a home and hope that their kids wind up in a good public school. Some parents, like my sister, want to hand craft their child’s education. Some parents have chosen homeschooling because of the bullying that goes on in public school. Some parents don’t want their children living with constant testing. Homeschooling is a great alternative to all of these things.
Another point to Sam:
What about Montessori school? Montessori teachers do not “test” their students, and their motto is to follow the child. Most Montessori students are above level when compared to their public school peers. This is proof that traditional testing isn’t always necessary in a well rounded, top notch education. In Montessori schools, it is common for teachers to have twenty or thirty students with different ages mixed in one room. Yet they consistently accomplish more than public schools.
I can understand the need for public school. What I don’t understand is how anyone can speak out against alternatives.
brenda dick says
I agree with some of what you are saying but feel the article leaves out that some children do have learning disorders and to negate them and say there are no such things is wrong and detrimental to the very children you are aiming to help. As a parent I see my child’s weaknesses and take the time to work with them, to help and guide. As for the last person who lets her kids play instead of homework… nice…. that’ll teach them to avoid the work the real world is going to give them. Play time is important but homework is just as important….. I have spent 14 yrs. working with children who are autistic and others who have learning disabilities and believe me they can learn but just differently and at different levels from others and need the help to do so…..
SOME homework is important, but it depends on the grade, I would say. Homework almost every night for elementary school kids takes up too much of my time with my kids that I could more productively use elsewhere.
This is why my kids come home from school and play together instead of doing homework. What they learn form playing together far out weighs what they learn from repetitive homework.
This article was God sent, really because my son struggles with math. To be honest I was worried because both my girls are honors students, I began to think what’s wrong? Thank you for putting me back on track with this article. God Bless.
Love this article. We are homeschoolers. My son is dyslexic and we have always told him what an awesome gift that is. He is so creative and can figure things out (puzzles,building things) so easily! My question is, what steps do I take in “playing detective” to really find out what my kids’ gifts and interests are? I see so many things in them now, but I don’t want them to miss out because of my lack of motivation, wisdom, insight….
Touch on many subjects and ideas. Give the opportunity to explore everything. Their gifts and interests will show up naturally when something catches their interest, or fuels a passion. Just one example: We have an amazing history curriculum (Mystery of History). During each lesson, as I’m reading out loud to my son, I keep my laptop open and as people, places, or things of interest come up, I do a google search and we go off on a rabbit trail to learn more in-depth about that person, place, or thing. So often, it sparks a desire in my son to study more about each thing. Or a city will be mentioned, and we’ll open up google earth and “travel” there via street view- we have a lot of fun with this, and we’ve both learned so much! We recently studied some of the great artists of the renaissance. For each work of art that was mentioned, I did a google image search, found a large version, and air played it onto our widescreen tv, so he could study the work of art closely. We ended up taking a few weeks to get through all the featured artists, because history lessons became art appreciation & art history lessons. He wanted to know more about Michelangelo and DaVinci, so he took a few days to study them more in-depth by reading whatever articles we could get ahold of. My son has an interest in both history and art (like me!), so he naturally craved more information when we covered these artists and their works in history. Your children may not have that leaning, but they would be equally interested in another subject, person, place, etc., and that’s where you let them take time away from the planned, formal lesson, to explore those things until the interest is exhausted (or perhaps you’ll find it’s fueled all the more, and there you find what their passions are!).
So it’s really simple. In the midst of your formal lessons, take time for rabbit trails and more in-depth study of even the most seemingly simple thing that interests your child.
I came across this article from Pinterest, and I have to agree with a previous commenter that as a teacher – I find some of the statements made in your article insulting.
Statements such as — “I feel that parents, teacher, & administrators are so concerned with if a child is ahead or behind, they haven’t stopped to imagine that maybe, just maybe, the child is just where he/she is supposed to be, regardless of what the test scores show.” — lump all teachers and administrators into one category of people who only care about test scores.
That is absolutely untrue. We HAVE to care about test scores because our jobs depend on it. That’s the fault of a government system, not the fault of a teacher. When it really comes down to it, I’d say most of us in education absolutely agree with the basic idea behind your article – that every kid is a genius in some area. Unfortunately, we can’t teach every kid individually. We do the best we can with the resources and time available to us. We work hard to meet our students’ needs every day to the best of our abilities.
As a teacher of reading, I absolutely see that students in my class can comprehend complicated texts about things they are interested in. However, in the real world, we don’t get to just read about things we are interested in. So, my job is to teach these students how to read ALL things.
I’m frustrated to read an article that speaks poorly of our US education system, yet offers no solutions or means for parents to enact change. Our system is not perfect, but it’s not because teachers don’t recognize the intelligence of their students.
She did offer a solution…home schooling. Also, how can you say that her feeling is untrue? It is her feeling. Teachers are not blameless. They belong to and support teachers unions, who are at least half of the problem.
DaNelle Wolford says
When you said, “We HAVE to care about test scores because our jobs depend on it. That’s the fault of a government system, not the fault of a teacher.”
I agree and think this is why it’s so hard for teachers. In my article above, I really tried to point out that it would be better to move away from curriculum and test scores and instead create an individualized education plan for each child. I think it can be done. If we can build amazing smartphones that can keep us in instant contact with people all over the world, track our bank account and calories, surely we could devise an individualized education system for our children.
I do agree that teachers are put in a tough spot. They see potential and they are constrained by the curriculum they are forced to follow.
It never ceases to amaze me that teachers find these discussions insulting, yet their own complaints confirm what many suspect: Teachers are often more concerned about their jobs than about the individuals they are supposed to teach. If your feelings are hurt when the truth about the system is told, there is something rather disordered about your relationship with that system, wouldn’t you agree?
As a teacher of reading, you ought to be able to comprehend that there are solutions offered here; instead, you deny they are offered, and you use the curious idiom “frustrated to” in your denial. If this were a standardized reading test, you might have failed.
In the real world, you can make mistakes and still earn a living as a teacher…for now.
Yet, just when you convince us that you don’t understand what the author has written, you write:
“Unfortunately, we can’t teach every kid individually. We do the best we can with the resources and time available to us. We work hard to meet our students’ needs every day to the best of our abilities.”
That is absolutely true, and one might infer from that statement that you do understand that individualized learning is a better way. This is precisely what the author is saying. If you understand your own shortcomings, and admit that you cannot provide the kind of education that works best for each child, why support the system?
Do teachers recognize the intelligence of their students? Some do, and maybe you are one of those great teachers. I hope so, for the sake of your students.
Connie Hall says
Well said, DaNell!
I fully believe that we all learn in our own way, and in our own time. Raising three children (two who have “special needs” ) in the public school system has been a terribly frustrating experience. I don’t blame the teachers, because some of them are phenomenal, but I do blame a system that puts everyone in the same cookie cutter cirriculum, and then ties teacher’s hands.
My husband keeps that Einstein quote on the wall above his desk.He says he was dyslexic before they had a name for it; they just called him “stupid” Fortunately for him, his forth grade teacher took the extra time to help him learn to read. Now in his 60’s his is not only a voracious reader, is also a writer.
As for myself, math didn’t make sense to me until I was in my 20s. My oldest son was probably 16 before he “got it”. However, he and I both read and comprehend what we are reading very well. My second son was just the opposite. He is my human calculator, but he has trouble with reading comprehension. My youngest struggles with math, and even at 14, her handwriting looks like a first grader’s, but she knows everything you might want to know about dinosaurs, and when you frame her learning around them, she gets it!
Good post DaNelle! And good timing too…I’ve been contemplating the last month or so whether or not to give homeschooling another try. This is definitely pushing me towards it more 🙂
DaNelle Wolford says
You can do it!
I believe in this philosophy so much; I just wish I knew what my daughter’s learning style is. She is so different than I was, that I struggle to know how to reach her, or to ignite her passions for things like reading, which she says she hates, and on which her school places such tremendous importance (@ way too early an age, if you ask me). Any advice on how to decode your kid’s learning style would be appreciated! Thanks!
I enjoyed the article. I have two children, an 11 year old daughter with ADD who struggles with math and language arts, in a class room setting, but can answer anything lickety split at home. I also have a 13 year old son who is ADHD and Aspergers. He is my logical all the time kid. He has learned to widen his scope of conversation, to adjust to school, but when given the opportunity will only talk about his particular interests.
We try as parents to give them what they need at home so that they progress, we work with the school and have been fortunate to live in a district where the school doors a great job… actually, right now we travel to the district.
We did give a lot of thought to home schooling, but chose against it. I have to keep up on entry single thing that is happening with the kids, but watching them grow and conquer the world is so worth it.
The article brings to light that all children are
different and learn that way. To put them all
through the same curriculum is not the way to go.
Speaking from personal experience most schools
teach a one size fits all method and when there
are 33 kids in a class and stretched to the limit teachers and funds,
there is no way that all needs are being met.
Bottom line people have to put their hurt feelings
aside so that more workable solutions are found.
No child should think or be told
they are not good in school or math, luckily
for myself, daughter and grandson we did
not believe those “teachers” and were able
have successful careers and my grandson
is doing so much much better in high school.
Sam g says
I have big problems with this article.
I am a primary school teacher in England, and find your assertion that all teachers ‘label’ children as bloody insulting. We always plan our lessons to meet the needs of all children in the class by differentiating – scaffolding the learning for the less able children, and extending and leaving open the ceiling for learning for the more able children.
We pick themes and work which will appeal to all interests – I am currently teaching the Stone Age to my class of 33 eight year olds, and taking on the gender divide then and now. Fun, cave any, but still getting to the heart of important matters.
Testing is not the be all and end all of assessment, but I provides very clear assessment data to find out what you are teaching and which gaps in learning you are going to fill next week, lesson or in the next 5 minutes. Any one with a good up to date knowledge of teaching knows the benefit of formative assessment, whether it is every term, every week, or every ten minutes in a mini plenary.
If a child has an interest in a particular subject that is fantastic. However, as educators, it is our job to try and broaden their horizons. If we didn’t – every child would do the same job as their parent, and every child would live in the same town they grew up in. Without expanding their experience and pushing the brackets of what they know and learn about, we are giving them far fewer life chances than if we do.
Good for Devin, he seems a clever little chap. However, if all of his learning is centred around rockets, when he becomes an adult and funds problems completely unrelated to this he will have a very difficult time trying to sort th em out.
I have no experience of homeschooling children, or being homeschooled, but I have lots of experience in the classroom, and a range of ages. I cannot see the appeal of home schooling a child – unless the parent is a qualified teacher. The narrow band of friendship and social interaction, the way homeschooling is entirely unlike going into a work environment, the lack of responsibility and separation from parents I think is also a stumbling block for children to conquer.
Over all – this article seems very short sighted. The examples of clever people who were slow at school seems to be pointless, as I know lots of people who were model pupils at school and have achieved nothing. It seems to belittle the excellent work that almost all teachers do in recognising children as unique and to be treated as such. ALL good teachers vary their learning style without thinking about it, they don’t have to be taught to suck eggs.
Sam, perhaps you’re looking at teaching from a U.K. perspective. In the U.S., teachers are under pressure from the No Child Left Behind school ratings and standardized curriculum that must be covered. There are also political situations with administrators not backing up the teachers, children not coming to school prepared to learn, etc. that may not be a hinderence where you are.
I second Nance. I went through the U.S.Public Education System, and now currently watching nieces and nephews going through the system. Unfortunately going through the system has nothing to do with broadening of the mind, teachers, etc. The system is designed to fail the student, as disheartening as that sounds. Rustle them through…get them out. Often students come out with a cookie cutter mentality. Lacking objectivity, desire to “become”, and ignorant of the world they are in. There are options though: Private schooling or homeschooling.
I hope the U.K. is as every bit as caring as it sounds. Nurturing the students mind, and concerned about student educational development. I hope the teachers are not subjected to politics of the administration, etc. and subjecting the students to psychological testing that labels them ( incorrectly diagnosing A.D.D. or ADHD).
What crap. As a parent, it is MY job to broaden my child’s horizons. The teachers’ jobs are to teach to assessment tests so they can move on to the next grade. I take my child to piano lessons, to Karate, on vacations, teach them sports, how to care for animals, how to grow things, how to build things with LEGOS, how to cook, how to manage money, NOT school teachers. I teach them about life, you teach them about some very narrow, albeit important, subjects (although I also teach them math, history, science, geography, reading, etc.) But you are right about one thing, YOU KNOW NOTHING about homeschooling.
” If we didn’t – every child would do the same job as their parent, and every child would live in the same town they grew up in. ” What self-aggrandizing crap.
Agreed. Sam’s elitist comments do nothing but support DaNelle’s points that institutionalized education and labeling (which he did right away) fails individual children— and he doesn’t even realize it. His ignorance regarding the myths about homeschooling is typical, and comes as no surprise after reading the earlier parts of his comment.
I really enjoyed this article. This issue is one of the many reasons I chose to homeschool my two “genius” boys. Just one of the other reasons is to keep them away from elitist “educators” like Sam, who think children belong to him and to the school system.
Sam has issues. That kind of anger, name calling and finger pointing has nothing to do with this article. He waked up like that. His poor kids! I can only imagine what they are really learning from such a hateful man.
Sam, you must be the ONLY UK Teacher who acts this way. Or else you belong to the vast group of UK teachers who are convinced they are God’s gift to education and are fooling themselves that they are doing this thing that you describe. We have three sons, the older two have Asperger syndrome, genius IQs and sensory difficulties and their time in mainstream was made extremely miserable by teachers who believed they were meeting individual needs but were in fact trying to force our boys to fit into the same mould as everyone else and blaming us for their difficulties in doing so. Both had been on the verge of nervous breakdown, eldest at age 8, middle was suicidal age 6. Since they have been in their independent specialist school, they have recovered due to receiving truly individualised help and are doing extremely well academically. Our third son does not have AS but does have sensory issues. He also has a very high IQ but was labelled a slow learner because he simply could not function in the noise and bustle of a class of 36. We took him out of school a year ago to home educate and he has made huge progress, both academically and in his self belief and self esteem. By this term in year 6, when his classmates are doing endless SATS practice, he is tackling and achieving KS3 maths and English and working on numerous projects of his own interest. He socialises with a wide variety of children of all ages every week through sport, drama, St Johns ambulance art club and Scouts, rather than just the same, same age peers he had in school who ignored him because he did not want to join in their very narrow pastime of playing football every break time. He is now confident to interact with both adults and children, self motivated to learn or try his hand at anything and is beginning to lose the ‘I’m so stupid’ monster that sat on his shoulder since Y2. It was his class teacher who advised me to take him out of school and told me that his own children would be home educated because what was happening in schools today was all about box ticking, targets and making children perform, not about helping children achieve their potential. He also said it was impossible to meet each child’s needs in classes of 30 or more and that teachers have to ‘pitch to the middle’ and try to ‘catch the others on the way through’. So I don’t know how you achieve this highly individual input that you claim to manage or evade the pressures to make your pupils fit the mould and you yourself avoid spending huge amounts of time ticking boxes? We have been involved in the school system since 2002 and have been more and more unhappy with it. I think you need to open your eyes to reality and stop being brainwashed by your teaching ideologies. I’m sure you do your best but the sad fact is, the system is broken and your best will never meet the needs of the majority of children in school. State education is a homogenising system and it is creating sad, underachieving, dysfunctional learners who believe that the only goal is to get good grades by learning set information. So no, it is no wider than Devin’s focus on rockets. If Devin has AS he will need help from people who understand how to support him-that’s not any mainstream teacher I have ever met. If he simply has a childhood passion for rockets and space, he will be able to gradually widen his skills to other areas. Open your eyes, Sam, talk to the people whose children are being failed by the education system and then try and convince yourself that you are actually doing what you believe you are. Or not
DaNelle Wolford says
I really tried to not say “ALL” teachers & parents, because, like you said, that is simply not true.
There are many amazing parents and teachers working towards providing a quality education. I feel that the “curriculum driven” administrators make it hard for amazing teacher to stray from the curriculum, but the thing is, they are completely qualified to do so, and I think they should have that right as long as the parent agrees.
That was excellent!
“Not all who wander are lost.” JRR Tolken
That was a great article DaNelle. I related to many of your thoughts and feelings on the subject. I am a firm believer in knowledge. I am a firm believer in finding answers. We have to be very careful with the term ‘label’, at times it can cause more damage that good, in that it might discourage a parent to seek answers to perplexing issues they see in their own children. You can’t fully help your child unless you know what is going on with them. If they are not developing properly you MUST be their voice, their advocate, you can NOT sit back out of FEAR of ‘labeling’. No one wants to see their child struggle with challenges, etc. but they are out there, they are real, they happen and they can be helped. If we don’t have answers, how can we TRULY get to the heart of the problem and help them?
Just like a Diabetic needs insulin, a child with learning disabilities needs extra help. I’m not against homeschooling, in fact as I’ve witness more and more friends and neighbors whom I love and respect describe the benefits, I’m much more drawn to it. Is it for everyone? No and that’s okay. That being said, there are many wonderful people out there who have educated themselves on how to work with children and help them reach their full potential through different therapies. I have children who have been BLESSED tremendously by and through these amazing people. They would not be at the level of advancement that they are at today without them, regardless of where they were/are schooled.
I do believe that negative labels are wrong. Informative labels or ‘answers’ are absolutely necessary. Its all how we look at it and how we treat one another. Parenting a child with or or without disabilities is difficult and we always have to make sure that our expectations are high but not unreachable (the same for ourselves)… we can never assume what they are capable of, but teach them to reach for their dreams. In this, I completely agree with you. Each child is a ‘genius’ in his or her own way and a good parent knows this regardless of a diagnosis of any kind. Get answers, and help them reach that full potential however they are being schooled. 🙂
Lori Reed says
Yes! You said that better than I could. I agree wholeheartedly. I commented above about my son and how at first we were scared of a label for him. But after gaining more and more knowledge about Aspergers and other sensory issues, we knew not to be scared and that it actually helped us help him be the best he could be. He is very smart and learned a lot at a young age, but he does still struggle with things. But without that label, we wouldn’t know how to help him and he might have fallen through the cracks at school. He hasn’t been officially diagnosed yet, but we see the signs and have seen numerous people and done therapy with him. He is in kindergarten now and doing really well, except for a few things here and there which we talk over with the teacher and we help him with daily at home. Love your outlook! 🙂
Janet... mamachildress says
Hello, may I please share this on my blog by leaving only a link to your blog?
I am a homeschooling mama of 11 children and I wish someone had of told me this information when I started. You told it much better than I could have!
Thank you so much!
DaNelle Wolford says
Angela Horton says
Thank you so much for this post! It sums up what I have found to be true in my own homeschool. I have 4 kids and have taught them for over 13 years. Each one of them is unique and has a different learning style. My “mechanic” son would certainly have been labeled as ADHD, but with unique methods to match his learning style, I am able to keep him engaged and learning.
My “math whiz” son just approaches life and learning very differently than most. He was reading everything in sight by the time he was 3. He was doing multiplication and division by the time he was 4 1/2. He can memorize without thinking and break practically any code. Now he is 14 and working in senior high level math and writing computer programs. However, he struggles with reading speed and comprehension and shows multiple signs of “dyslexia”. I have always felt that he would have fallen through the cracks if we had forced him to learn by traditional methods in a large classroom. Those methods just don’t work with him. I remember a time when I tried to use a traditional textbook to teach him math. He was in tears every day and decided he didn’t like math anymore. Math had always been what he did for fun. Needless to say, I chucked the very expensive book and went back to letting him learn in his own way. I’ve never regretted throwing away that book. It has become a family joke around here.
Thank you so much for getting the word out about these kids. There is nothing wrong with them. They just approach life differently than a worksheet will allow.
Oh, and by the way, my whole family loves your blog. We still laugh about the geep.
DaNelle Wolford says
Haha, thanks! The geep. LOL! Oh my gosh, I’m so embarrassed we let that happen:)
Emily @ My Love for Words says
Great article DaNelle on learning disorders in our children! I totally agree and will be sharing this!
DaNelle Wolford says
Thanks Jackie (aka Paleo Mama)!
Great article!! I don’t think we can assume all kids who have issues are genius’ since that is extremely rare. Also, that Einstein quote is not accurate. He never said that in the meme above. There are a lot of misquoted Einstein memes out there and this is one of the most popular ones known to be false.
Lori Reed says
In our son’s case, we want to get him tested to see if he has Aspergers. We already know that he has sensory issues and dyspraxia. I don’t consider this a weakness in him at all. We didn’t want him to have labels either, but in testing him for these things, it allows us to know exactly what is going on with him so we can know what type of learner he is. If it turns out that he has Aspergers, it won’t change him in my eyes, it will just be one step closer for us to be making the best choices we can for him. I really appreciate this article because I think a lot of people do put too much emphasis on our broken education system. My husband teaches high school kids and he is not happy with so many of the changes they are trying to make in schools. So many kids could really thrive if we just let them learn in the way that was easy for them. Every child is so unique and different, how do we expect them to all learn the same way? My son was an early reader and knew all of his shapes, colors, letters and numbers by 2. He had difficulty talking until he was 3, and has had many other sensory issues. We worried so much in the beginning about a diagnosis and label of autism, until I realized that he is the same beautiful little boy that brings me so much joy. I don’t know if I will ever be able to home school him, but I hope to gather as much info as I can about his learning style so I can pass this along to his teachers. Thanks again for the article!
DaNelle Wolford says
I love this Lori! In my research there were some that speculated that Einstein had Aspergers. I really think that no matter what weaknesses our children have, they also have strengths and talents that can make them successful no matter what!
My kids took a guitar class once and the teacher had Aspergers and he was an AMAZING guitar player and a patient teacher. They loved it!
Your son is lucky that you are parenting him with such love and dedication, and in a way that allows him to be himself. That’s a rarity with typical families, but even less common among families with a child with ASD.
My son has Autism. He is turning 5 next month, and like your son, didn’t talk much before he was 3….and even then it was a slow process. He also has sensory integration disorder, which can make simple, everyday experiences like taking a bath, getting dressed, or eating certain textured foods, very exhausting for him and us both. But he is constantly reaching new goals and defying what the doctors said was unlikely. He has taught himself to count to 10 or 20 in seven different languages, can sing the Bob the Builder theme song in three languages, recognizes complex shapes such as a nonagon or dodecagon by site, can read many words, and absolutely loves stop signs and mail boxes. We too were scared of a diagnosis of Autism….but my husband and I both quickly realized that we were blessed with him being exactly as he is. He has changed the hearts and lives of everyone in our family, and continues to bring joy to our home. He is the most amazing kid! He is the last of 5 children, and very much loved by all of his siblings, his teachers, and anyone who has any lasting interactions with him. Don’t fear the diagnosis….it can open doors to therapy and school IEP’s that will help him to grow and work through the things that challenge him, like sensory issues in a public environment. And that’s really what it is….a challenge, but not an impossibility…EVER! Will you meet people who pity him when they hear the word Autism or Aspbergers? Yes. And they may even go so far as to tell you that they feel so badly for him, or for you. You will also meet people who will not believe that he was diagnosed properly, or who think that the surge in Autism/Aspbergers cases is due only to doctors wanting to over diagnose. I have seen and heard it all. We use all of the negative or pity responses as an opportunity to educate people. After all, most people think of Rain Man when they hear the word Autism, and they have even less understanding of Aspbergers or Sensory Integration Disorder. So never ever EVER be scared of the diagnosis….its a tool that can lead to positive growth in his life. Also, do not ever be ashamed or embarrassed, no matter the comments you may get. Even if he is hand flapping in the middle of the mall parking lot, with passersby’s staring at him, there is no reason to feel any embarrassment. Pity those people…who choose to stay in their own judgemental world. Simply educate those who do not understand if they are willing to listen, and be proud of your boy for exactly who he is….he is a blessing and a gift, and in Temple Grandin’s words, he is “different, not less”.
I have done a tremendous amount of research on ASD (Aspbergers is classified as part of ASD), and I am happy to pass on any links or even personal experience to you if you would like. I used to be a medical researcher for a company that had a contract with Florida Hospital, and so I researched exhaustively on this subject once there was concern that my son would be diagnosed with ASD. Let me know if there is anything I can help with.
Some times I’m greatful my son went thu school not knowing what he had was Aspergers. He was forced to do what he could to cope with those around him. Now he has a much better attitude about it. He does have a few friends,but at the ago of 30, he still limits his time with others. When he come home from work he heads to his room for an hour to regroup.
This was great! I am in high school, and I realized this kind of stuff long ago. Thank you for writing this!!
I’m homeschooled in high school, but my mom’s kind of missing the point -_-
I still do the standardized poo 😛
Oh, Lisa, what state do you homeshool in? The standardized tests may still be required by your state – not something your mom has much control over. Homeschool testing is still required here in Colorado.
Such a great read! I am still a year or two away from having children myself, but homeschooling is already a topic my husband and I discuss. Though I had a wonderful experience through my school years I feel that traditional schools today have their focus all wrong. There is a serious decline in arts & music classes plus a lack of physical activity during the day, when combined with such a strong focus on standardized testing it leaves little room for developing a creative, well rounded little person.
Keep the homeschool posts coming, it’s great getting your perspective!
I truly commend the fact that you are considering homeschooling. I have two grown children, and, if I had it to do again, I would have probably kept my son out of school a little longer. I did end up homeschooling him in Kindergarten and 6th grade. He had a speech/language disability and didn’t qualify for school services, so we had to do everything on our own. I couldn’t even call the school officials for information! They said it was a liability issue. The best (and only) place I got any kind of help and support was from the global homeschool community. The resources available are positively outstanding; much of it is free. What a bright future you have to look forward to!