By Author Shari McMinn
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability … And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!'” (Matthew 25:15, 20-21 ESV).
God created each of us in His image. To some He gave ten talents, to some He gave fewer. In the end, He wants both adults and children to maximize the talents (gifts) we have each been given. Our children need us to help guide them to multiply their talents for God’s glory. Whether “highly gifted” or “learning delayed”, our children have talents we need to help them steward. More challenging for them (and us as their parents) is if they are both gifted and delayed.
Is your child far above grade level in certain subjects yet significantly behind in others? They may be a “twice exceptional” learner. The National Association for Gifted Children website1 explains it this way:
“What’s not often well-known or well-understood is that students who are gifted may also have a special need or disability — just as students with disabilities may also be gifted. The term “twice-exceptional,” also referred to as “2E,” is used to describe gifted children who have the characteristics of gifted students with the potential for high achievement and give evidence of one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. These disabilities may include specific learning disabilities (SpLD), speech and language disorders, emotional [and related] behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, autism spectrum, or other impairments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Like other gifted learners, 2E students are highly knowledgeable and talented in at least one particular domain. However, their giftedness is often overshadowed by their disabilities, or these students may be able to mask or hide their learning deficits by using their talents to compensate. Sometimes a twice-exceptional child’s special education needs are overlooked until adolescence or later, or are never.”
From my personal experience having homeschooled several 2E students, often they were also either compulsive or lackadaisical about taking care of themselves, including diet, hygiene, and personal space. They neglected school subjects in which they struggled yet were obsessive about their passions. This is what I term the “absent-minded professor syndrome.” While they stayed up until all hours of the night reading or working on their latest “project,” their room was a wreck, they were anti-social, and it was challenging for them to maintain a reasonable schedule to accomplish their school work and life tasks.
Does that situation sound familiar to you regarding your student? If so, try these strategies for homeschooling your twice exceptional child to become a productive and well-rounded adult:
- Allow lots of time for your student to pursue interests in subjects of his/her strengths.
- Concentrate on having them master the three R’s during their elementary years (or even up through middle school), while also exposing them to a broad range of other subjects.
- Discuss with and encourage them to use their 2E talents to honor God by helping others.
- Evaluate his/her talents and weaknesses through observation and experimentation.
- Find professionals to help with their deficits and/or giftedness if you need assistance.
- Limit screen technology time to no more than two hours/day to avoid addiction and antisocial behaviors.
- Model for and practice with them character, communication, and social skills every day.
- Provide opportunities, space, and supplies for their choice of creative arts and STEM tinkering.
- Read aloud to your student or have them listen to audiobooks if they are delayed readers.
- Train your student to a steady routine of chores, meals, outdoors activities, school, and sleep.
- Work one-on-one with them each morning to overcome deficits in subjects they struggle with.
- Worship the Creator together during Bible study, church, family devotions, and school work, thanking Him for the gifts He has bestowed on your family members.
To assist you in homeschooling your 2E student, here are some links to further investigate:
- Dianne Craft’s article on the SPED Homeschool website, ”Gifted with a Glitch.”
- Meet other families in your area through our homeschool groups page.
- Plan for some family fun by checking out our Community Calendar page.
- Purchase Colorado’s most essential homeschooling resource (including the very helpful and practical chapter “Different Learners”): Homeschool Guidebook for Colorado.
- Spend time finding additional resources at our Unique Learners page.
For next month’s Unique Learner blog, I will write an article about parenting adult children who were (and probably still are) unique learners.
Shari McMinn, your trusted homeschooling friend
PS: If you have a topic you want me to cover, please email me with your suggestion(s).