Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home sick

The kids are slightly feverish and are staying home today. I had to write several quick emails, but my to-do list for today has suddenly shrunk in half.

UPDATE: The kids are watching Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. C just bounced in to tell me that the music playing in one scene was Brahms' Hungarian Dance Number Five. That's why we pay the big bucks for private school.

UPDATE II: Everybody's in bed and C will be staying home tomorrow from school. She's still a bit feverish. The day is all a blur, but it was surprisingly productive. D and I sifted through his papers, I managed to extract some cardboard boxes from his room, and he and my husband put together a set of wire cubbies that had been sitting in a box ever since 2003. It's two cubes high and four across and we've been putting D's toys in it. It looks great. The kids and I made brownies. In the evening, my husband and I did the October budget and discussed 2010-2011. I really want to get back to Russia for a visit in the next year or two, but at the same time, we're supposed to be saving for a house. Our rental house is very basic, but we have excellent maintenance. The prospect of paying (and finding!) my own plumber, handyman and electrician fills me with dread. If it were just up to me, I might never move. Unfortunately, we've known ever since we moved here that the university has plans for this land, plans that involve bulldozers and new construction. Nearby, nearly an entire block of apartment buildings is in the process of being leveled. The latest word is that part of our neighborhood will be depopulated early next summer. We are lucky that our part of the neighborhood will probably get another year's reprieve, but when I take walks in the evening I've already started to notice how many empty houses there are. According to this most recent information, we have 20 months left.

UPDATE III: I somehow forgot to mention that my husband just ordered the kids' Gryffindor robes for Halloween. The kids have decided to go as Harry and Hermione and I am getting a Hedwig and a pair of Harry Potter glasses for D. My husband also ordered me some bulk alfalfa and radish sprouting seeds.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Different Minds Chapter 1 (continued from last week)

Wendy at Outside Providence continues to blog Chapter 4 of Lovecky's Different Minds. Meanwhile, over here, we are trying to wrap up Chapter 1 (on gifted children). Lovecky talks briefly here about twice-exceptional children:

These twice-exceptional children, who are the focus of this book, share many qualities in common with other gifted children, but also show differences that may hinder the development of their giftedness. Children with attention deficits may show deficits in cognitive, creative, emotional, social, and moral areas that affect how they are able to use their abilities. On the other hand, these children also show special strengths that may be responsible for much of the new, innovative work in the world.

Lovecky devotes the final pages of Chapter 1 to theories of giftedness. The first model ("the talent development model") is focused on the gifted child as future accomplished adult. "The second thread focuses more on the developmental needs of current gifted children." Lovecky calls this second model "the gifted child model." "The underlying assumptions of this group are that the needs of gifted children require accomodation whether or not the child produces tangible accomplishments." Lovecky states that there is "considerable overlap" between the two models. If we think of the first as the "where are we going?" model and the second as the "where are we now?" model, it's possible to imagine a fruitful cooperation between the models.

Chapter 2 is on AD/HD. I know that's an area of interest to my readership, so I will try to do a good job.

Letter from Russia

I got a newsletter from the Catholic Mission in Vladivostok. Fr. Myron writes:

We have a new situation here in Russia: Now people can get bank credit to help pay their bills, but our people aren't used to what that means. They think they can get a breather, but they only get further in debt, since the interest is 25% annually! Then the bank sells the debt to collectors, who make their lives even more miserable with death threats and nasty letters. Sound familiar? It's a new aspect of the new situation for Russians. We have to help by teaching them the danger of debts and the advantage of frugality.

When I lived in Russia in the 90s, credit cards were exotic. People knew about them, but nobody had one and very few businesses were equipped to take them. An ordinary person wouldn't be able to take out a bank loan (even to buy an apartment). Meanwhile, my Russian colleagues would get paid half a year late by the government. How did they manage? They'd borrow $100 here or $100 there from friends and then pay their private debts back when they got paid.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thinning radishes

I was just thining my radishes. I brought the thinned radish seedlings in (some with roots, some just with tops) and rinsed them off to snack on. I was just doing a little internet research and the young tops are edible and make good, peppery-tasting salad greens when young. The mature tops are also edible, but apparently better cooked. Radishes get hotter and hotter with age, so if you prefer a mild radish, it is better to eat them young. I love the fact that you can have home-grown radishes in just under a month.

I'm just starting to see the first signs of carrot sprouts.

Point system revision

We've made some changes to our point system.

C now can get a total of 4 points for behavior during the day either at school or on a day at home. She can get a point for a successful physical therapy session. She can get a point for getting dressed and ready and getting to school on time.

D earned his gantry (???) crane today and we have discontinued the potty point program. I will let him continue to get M & Ms until we run out of our current supply. As of today, he can earn one point for getting dressed and ready and getting to school on time. He can also earn one point for each phonics booklet that he reads.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cultural literacy

C just referred to a picture of Bugs Bunny as "a rabbit." I queried her, and it turned out that she didn't recognize the name "Bugs Bunny." Oops.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 6

I'm expecting my husband back later today from a short conference at Oxford. He left Friday, so this is the sixth day. I've had five bedtimes and three morning reveilles all by myself and I am looking forward to getting reinforcements (even severely jetlagged ones). Having both kids in school all day three days a week made it a lot easier, but then you get the occasional morning like today when one person (naming no names) decided she wasn't eating, getting dressed, or going to school. Miraculously for such a morning, we got to school with exactly enough time for C to get to class without a tardy. She has had eight so far this year.

I've announced to the kids that I will be awarding points for getting ready in the morning. They are very excited about the idea. C now is getting up to 4 points a day for school behavior (or home behavior on weekends) and 1 point for a successful physical therapy session. There will now be 1 point available for getting ready for school in the morning and we may offer some other points. As you see, inflation isn't just a problem for paper currencies. Fortunately, we did a revision of the reward schedule with new "improved" pricing a few weeks ago. Just a couple of days ago, C cashed in 35 of her points to take me and D to Chili's for dinner. Her current balance is 47 points.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I fell asleep on (rather than in) my bed last night and woke up at 5:11 this morning with the lights on and the laptop on my bed. Yuck. I think I did that twice on my husband's last trip this summer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clover sprouts

I've been enjoying my first batch of clover sprouts today. Clover sprouts resemble alfalfa sprouts (both alfalfa and clover being basically cow chow) and taste pretty good with honey mustard salad dressing. I'm working my way through a selection of sprouting seeds, and based on my experiences, I'm planning to buy bulk quantities of alfalfa, clover and radish seeds. Speaking of radish sprouts, I culled some of the radish seedlings from my mini-garden today (the kids (especially D) planted them pretty tightly). At this point, the radish root is white and elongated with no pink swelling, but it definitely tastes radishy.

Graduation!

C had physical therapy today. The head therapist came to evaluate her and told me that C has met almost all her goals. C has been going twice a week for four months. They want her to switch to one session a week and they think she'll be done by the end of October. Our afterschool schedule is going to be a lot easier from here on out. This is very good.

The therapists think C needs actual name brand running shoes shoes with arch support and ankle support. We're going to try that before trying the orthotics that they also recommended. Au revoir, Payless!

Different Minds Chapter 1

Our blog associate Wendy has posted a summary of Chapter 3 of Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds over at Outside Providence. Chapter 3 is on "Attention Deficits: Asperger Syndrome". I'm going to try to start work on Chapter 1 ("The Gifted Child", but I may get cut off. I'll just keep adding to the post until it's done.

Here we go (as usual, I'm in normal font and my quoted author is in bold or in quotation marks):

  • I'm skipping a bunch of stuff on how wonderful and effervescent gifted kids are. Yeah, yeah.
  • The biggest change of the elementary years , reported by parent and child alike, is the loss of passion and joy. Many parents report the loss of the exuberant child full of the spark of discovery and passion for learning they knew in preschool years. For the majority of gifted children, learning becomes something expected from school, not something one does on one's own anymore. As children reach middle-school years, learning and activities become more and more circumscribed to what is required by teachers and acceptable to peers. It is only those who are willing, in at least some ways, to march to a different drummer who continue to pursue independent studies outside of school. [This is one of the most depressing passages I have ever read in the English language, and it almost makes me think that being both gifted and having Asperger's is in some ways a lucky break.]
  • In the early adolescent years, many are ready and able to accelerate in academics. This can allow much faster progress in high-school subjects, with the chance to learn more in depth. Advanced Placement courses and CLEP examinations (College Level Examination Program) allow many to enter college with requirements fulfilled and college credit earned. Some are fortunate enough to be in school systems which have provisions for dual enrollment in high school and college. [My daughter is in a small private school that runs from PK to 10 grade. They're hoping to add 11th and 12th grade over the next couple of years. There are just over 200 kids total, and the class size tends to be from 9-13 kids. Practically every adult who works there knows C by name and the classes are too small for her to get lost in the crowd. Right now that's perfect, but I'm leaving the door open to the possibility that she may want a bigger, more varied world as a high school student.]
  • While many of the traits mentioned by researchers are positive, Roedell (1984) described characteristics of gifted children that led to increased vulnerability. These included perfectionism, difficulty with too high adult expectations, intense sensitivity, multipotentiality (can do too many things well), difficulty finding appropriate peers, development of alienation, high need for intellectual stimulation, and difficulty with societal role expectations, especially for girls. The increased vulnerability could lead to social maladjustment, unhappiness or underachievement.
  • Lovecky says that there are four different bands of giftedness. Mildly gifted children run from about IQ 120 to IQ 139. These kids "tend to be more like age peers in many respects. Often they are children who achieve good grades in school, respond to enrichment and challenge in assignments, and are just far enough advanced from age peers that they can serve as models and leaders. In fact, these are often the children who are popular with peers." "These are the typical smart children in most classrooms." From IQ 140-159 ("the moderately gifted child"), kids are still reasonably socially successful, although their interests diverge from age peers'. They are "good problem solvers, quick to learn, motivated, and energetic." "For these children, academic work is often repetitive. They frequently know most of what they are being taught and, if they do the work required, easily earn top grades. In order to receive some academic challenge, this group needs more in-depth work, some acceleration of content, and work with mentors on special projects." With this middle group we're beginning to see some potential for trouble. The third group is "the exceptionally gifted child (IQ 160-179)." "Children in the 160-179 range of intellectual potential tend to notice that they are different from age peers. They may share enough in common with peers that socially and emotionally they may still fit in on the surface, but many will feel internally out of synch." These kids are years ahead of their age peers intellectually, and in the example Lovecky gives, the gap only grows with time. Their interests are quite different than their age peers', and they may be the only one of their kind at their school. "School is so easy that these gifted children are not challenged at all, unless they are fortunate enough to attend academically rigorous schools where they have the opportunity to take advanced work and subjects not usually offered such as Greek. If not challenged, many give up." "This is the group that will usually score at the top on national competitions, easily qualify for the Johns Hopkins Talent Search, and will be able to accelerate several grades before entering college." The fourth and last type is "the profoundly gifted child (IQ 180 and above)." This child is like the exceptionally gifted child, just more so. "Age peers may seem a mystery to them..."
  • Girls who are sure of their academic talents and intelligence in elementary school who longer view themselves as having ability by high school.
  • Some gifted girls do not sacrifice achievement, but are more independent thinkers who may pay a price in loneliness and peer disapproval for their continued academic competition.
  • Home-schooling has helped many a gifted girl to continue to achieve because they are not so subject to peer approval. Others who experience a special relationship with an adult mentor or who are placed in special advanced programs continue to achieve.
  • Lovecky believes that fewer highly gifted girls than boys are identified because their parents think that they seem happy. "Often, gifted girls are ignored, unless they are unhappy enough to complain as loudly as young boys do when their educational needs are not met." So discontent can be a blessing in disguise, I guess.
  • Another reason that girls are identified less often as gifted is that girls are socialized to fit in with more average peers so they look average too. These gifted girls are adaptable and will put up with a lot of boring work to fit in with peers. It is not uncommon to note that quite gifted girls mysteriously lose their abilities in average classrooms.
  • Girls also may be more socially aware and more mature than boys at every age level. Consequently, they may show less discrepancy among areas of development (asynchrony) than do gifted boys...

This post is turning into a monster and we're not done yet with the gifted chapter. I will continue later.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Radishes

When I went out to water my freshly-planted radishes and carrots, I discovered that the radishes are already starting to come up. No sign of the carrots yet.

C thinks about Egypt

The kids and I went to church yesterday at the Catholic chaplaincy. C had a workbook from last year's CCD to entertain her. One of the pages invited the child to draw a picture of Joseph, Mary and Jesus fleeing to Egypt. C's drawing had three pyramids in the background and a large sphinx in the foreground.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday fun

The kids and I cruised the neighborhood this morning and invited three neighbor kids (two big girls and a toddler brother) home to swing on the tire swing. The kids played with remote control cars and I had the inspiration to invite them to plant radishes and carrots in our garden plot. We gave the furrow a good soaking and I need to remember to keep it wet for the next week or so. As I've learned from my sprouting experiments, if you can keep seeds wet, they will do amazing things for you (within 36-48 hours of optimal conditions, my seeds have been sprouting like crazy). Carrots and radishes are the two veggies that as a kid I loved to eat right out of the ground from my grandparents' garden after a quick rinse from the hose. I am not much of a gourmet with regard to vegetables (I think frozen and microwaved veggies are the best thing since sliced bread), but even I can tell the difference between a fresh radish and a miserable, dirty store radish, to say nothing of the difference between a fresh carrot and the dry, split store carrot or (even worse) the slimy pre-peeled "baby carrot."

Here in our part of Texas, we enjoy two short gardening seasons, divided by the summer season when temperatures linger above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it's a struggle for plants to stay alive, let alone flourish. The fall gardening season is supposed to be in some ways better than the spring season. I'm not exactly sure how, but it is a luxury to know that the garden can keep going right into late November. (Last year, our basil went black with frost in either late November or early December.) The seed packages say that the radishes will be ready in 25 days (woohoo!) but the carrots will take 75 days. The radishes give us a very comfortable margin, but the carrots may run into frost. I will try to eat them early. (I'm the carrot person and my husband is the radish guy.)

In the afternoon, we went to the zoo to meet friends. We missed out on our friends due to miscommunication, but the kids had a good time. C bought two sets of puffy animal stickers and a lion button that she had me pin on her dress.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good news for C

After weeks of complaints, C is now enjoying physical therapy. The therapist says she's making progress with her running. C is suddenly more optimistic about her running and she thinks that she'll be able to run faster than some other kids at school (she'd been avoiding running games and school and complained about coming in dead last during races). They'll be tapering off the physical therapy slowly to make sure she doesn't regress. Her school starts mandatory team sports in 4th grade, so it's very important to get C up to speed before that starts.

In other happy news, C thinks she's putting one over on the system when she works ahead in her Singapore Math workbook and finishes her homework at school. C has a busy afterschool schedule three days a week, so her completing that work at school is a blessing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open House

Tonight was Open House at school. I visited the pre-K classroom, but had to leave early to make it to the 2nd grade meeting. Here are some notes:

  • The kids learn their spelling words in order of their frequency.
  • They're studying the parts of speech this year. The kids have small pieces of colored plastic to code the sentences that Mrs. S gives them. So far they've got three parts of speech to work with.
  • In history, the kids are doing ancient civilizations. (C missed school Monday and she was telling her dad that she hoped she hadn't missed any history.) This week is Hammurabi.
  • Coincidentally, the kids are doing Genesis through Joshua in the Bible this year.
  • The kids are starting to learn to type this year. They really like it.

Different Minds

My current project is that I'm going to be blogging Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds: Gifted Children with AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits. This is a very important and useful book, but by the very nature of the material, it's very difficult to keep all the threads straight in your head. The difficulty is central to the book's subject, since it deals with gifted kids, AD/HD kids, Asperger's kids, gifted kids with AD/HD, gifted kids with Asperger's, and gifted kids with both Asperger's and AD/HD. It also deals with the differences between boys and girls in these categories. Worse yet, it turns out that there are several different categories of giftedness, and each category is somewhat different. In short, if any of these issues are important or relevant to you, this is not the sort of book you can just check out for a week from the library or skim through at the bookstore. Buying a copy and underlining and keeping it for reference is more like it. Did I mention that it's hard?

I'll be working my way through the book as I can. I'm hoping that a fellow blogger will be able to do a chapter or two. As usual, I'm not really a big picture person, especially in an area like this that is so new to me. I'll be mostly pulling out details that interest me.

Here's some stuff from the introduction (quotes are in bold):

  • People with AD/HD and AS have attention deficits; however, they also have attention strengths.
  • This book is about asynchrony. Every gifted child shows asynchrony in at least some ways. Leta Hollingworth...was perhaps the first to make the point that gifted children are not miniature adults, but rather a mixture of ages because development in all areas is not equal...Asynchrony in gifted children covers all areas of functioning: intellectual, emotional, social, creative, and moral.
  • A child may have sophisticated concepts, yet not be able to express them at the level of older children who are studying these concepts. For example, a child may be more like age peers in the amount of homework he or she can do at night, or the amount of material that can be handwritten, even when the child is ready to study material several grade levels ahead. Neither holding the child to the expectations of the older children, nor making him or her do grade-level work is appropriate.
  • Most of the children assessed and treated for problems wrought by the dual exceptionality of attention deficits and giftedness are boys. This is related to a common problem for gifted girls: they blend in all too well, so their giftedness is never noticed. Unless they are disruptive, they fade into the woodwork, daydreaming their time away in unchallenging classrooms.
  • Because there are many hidden girls with high IQs, including those that are also hiding AD/HD, this book will explore some of the needs of gifted girls.
  • Gifted children with AS were rarely given work commensurate with their cognitive and academic strengths unless the AS was so mild that they did not come to the attention of school personnel at all. Thus, those gifted children with AS who were in special education programs usually had little done to accentuate their areas of strength even though these strengths were what will be most useful in adult life. [In another gifted book I was reading, the author warned that academic remediation should be at most 10% of the educational program for a gifted child. I suppose Asperger's kids are a somewhat different case and may need a lot of different kinds of remediation (academic, physical, and social), but the principle stands that playing to a child's strengths is more motivating than focusing on what they struggle with.]

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children VII

Here's more Chapter 14. I love this chapter!

  • Most schools have a mission statement with wording that refers to educating all students to reach their full potential. Is it being implemented with regard to gifted and talented students? If not, you can cite the words in the mission statement when you request educational options for your child.
  • In 1993, the U.S. Department of Education...noted that only two pennies out of each $100 spent on elementary and secondary education are used for gifted and talented education. In 2005, the amount was three pennies out of each $100.
  • Equity does not mean the same as equality. Equity means the chance for all students to progress. Equality means giving the same curriculum to all.

All in all, this is a helpful book. The twice-exceptional chapter is inadequate/potentially harmful/misleading and I'd recommend reading either Deirdre Lovecky's Different Mind's or Tony Attwood's Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome instead, but the "Finding a Good Educational Fit" chapter is really, really good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children VI

Chapter 14 is "Finding a Good Educational Fit." As usual, I'm not summarizing, just pulling out an idea here and there. My comments are in normal type in brackets. The original is in bold.

  • Research has shown, however, that very little differentiation of instruction occurs for gifted children unless the teacher is experienced , has training in the techniques, and has support from others such as administrators and other teachers. In fact, one large-scale study found that gifted and talented students experienced instructional or curricular differentiation in only 16% of their activities. [I'm surprised it's that high.]
  • Problems occur when teachers attempt to meet the needs of gifted students by limiting learning experiences to: offering more of the same level of material or the same kind of problem [what a demotivator!], providing either enrichment or acceleration alone, focusing only on cognitive growth in isolation from affective, physical, or intuitive growth, teaching higher thinking skills (e.g. research or criticism) in isolation from academic content, presenting additional work that is just different from the core curriculum, grouping with intellectual peers without differentiating content and instruction. [I think that this is very insightful.]
  • Still another problem with pull-out programs is that, due to the short time children actually spend in them, extended projects are difficult. Academic rigor suffers when projects are short-term and superficial in order to fit the timeframe allowed. A final concern with pull-out programs is that what happens there often has little connection with what goes on in the student's regular classes. When the child is asked what he did in the special class, he may say, "We had fun. We built rockets, but I'm not sure why."
  • Despite their limitations, pull-out programs are still popular and are the most widely used educational option for gifted students, probably because they are relatively easy to administer and because they are visible. However, a resource program with an additional teacher is not always popular when school budgets are tight. Nevertheless, they do offer students at least a once-a-week opportunity to interact with other children who are gifted like they are and feel some sense of emotional and interpersonal support. Even though pull-out programs are nearly always offered just a few hours per week, they are better than nothing. Gifted students who participate in these programs enjoy them. They often tell parents, "The day I go to the gifted program is the only day I like school. I hate school the rest of the time." [I'm starting to think this is my very favorite chapter.]
  • Cluster grouping refers to enrichment for a group of gifted students within a regular class...Research tells us that gifted students thrive when grouped with other gifted students.
  • Even though research shows acceleration to be beneficial for gifted students, many educators have a personal bias against all forms of acceleration, convinced that students should stay with their age group.
  • In fact, most studies show that students who were accelerated, whether through early entrance, grade skipping, telescoping of the curriculum, or early entrance to college, enjoyed and benefited from their experiences.

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children V

Chapter 13 is "How Schools Identify Gifted Children"

  • There are schools that still hold to the notion that gifted children are those who are advanced learners in all areas of endeavor.
  • While some testing can be done as early as age two, parents who elect to have individual IQ testing may find it helpful to have testing done around age five and then again at around 10 or 11.
  • A second, or repeat testing at around 10 or 11 can provide additional important and relevant information for educational placement in junior high and high school. Such testing can indicate whether the child is progressing in knowledge and skills, and it can assess the need for a possible grade skip, single-subject acceleration, or other accomodations.

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children IV

Chapter 12 of A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children is entitled "Children Who Are Twice-Exceptional," i.e. both having Asperger's or ADHD and being gifted. There's a much better full length treatment of these issues in Deirdre Lovecky's Different Minds, but I'll give some quotes and opinions. The original will be in bold.

  • [For children with Asperger's] Academic coursework that is structured an emphasizes memory skills will play to their strengths, especially when modifications are made to address their limitations. If they are identified as gifted, they may also receive special accomodations, such as more individualized instruction, which can help them perform well.
  • ...there may be a true relationship between Asperger's Disorder and giftedness. Certainly, many behaviors are similar, and some researchers have suggested that many notable historical figures--Thomas Jefferson, Orson Welles, Carl Sagan, Glenn Gould, Wolfgang Mozart, and Albert Einstein--suffered from Asperger's Disorder. Considering the profound creativity and accomplishments of those well-known individuals, it is unlikely that they had Asperger's, or if they did, that it was only mildly impairing. [Whoa, there, pardner. Where did we establish that people with Asperger's can't be creative or accomplished?]
  • It can be difficult to differentiate between some gifted children and children with Asperger's Disorder.
  • Children who suffer from Asperger's Disorder tend to talk about their interests in a pedantic, monotonous voice. Such children cannot explain why they have their abiding love for prisms or washing machines, nor can they draw people into their fascination by their descriptions. In contrast, a gifted child's interests may be boring to many (or even most) adults, but they will be of interest to some subculture, such as collectors of Star Wars memorabilia. In these situations, the Asperger's diagnosis is less probable. In addition, if a child conveys to others some of the job that he finds in his hobby and spontaneously seeks to share it with others, there is a decreased likelihood that an Asperger's Disorder diagnosis is appropriate or correct. [I don't think this is correct. Kids with Asperger's are notorious for spontaneously seeking to share their interests with others, in season and out of season.]

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children III

I'm back to blogging A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children. Off we go!

  • It is particularly important to help a gifted child develop and maintain somewhere in his life an "island of excellence"--a place where he is continually growing and stretching with enthusiasm.
  • Discussions with a gifted child can be difficult at times. For example, one child challenged his parents by pulling out a copy of the Declaration of Independence and saying, "See, it says here that all men are created equal--it is an inalienable right! You can't tell me what to do; we are equal." His mother responded, "This says men; you are seven--you are not a man!" The child promptly went to the Internet to find out when he was going to be a man.
  • Research suggests that the degree to which a school's program is a good educational fit with the areas in which a child is gifted (for example, verbal, mathematical, visual-spatial) also affects a child's stress level. An improved academic fit diminishes a gifted child's stress.
  • When a gifted child finds a friend who shares her ability and interests, the situation is exciting, although the level of energy is usually exhausting for adults who happen to be around. The enthusiasm is palpable, and the noise level is usually quite high. The intensity of two or three gifted children grouped together is magnified; they seem to eat, sleep, drink, breathe, and live each other's enthusiasms.
  • Alone time is important to many gifted children, particularly introverts. It may even be a necessary part of developing one's abilities. Barbara Kerr's research found that gifted girls who later became eminent as adults shared a common trait--they all seemed to need large amounts of alone time to read or think or follow other pursuits. Kerr also found that most of the girls were not particularly socially respectful, but were "prickly" to be around.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

For you, Tex

Rachel Lucas, a Texan living in exile in the UK, has a post on misguided British notions of "spicy" and "Mexican" food. Don't miss it!

Alfalfa sprouts

My current kitchen counter farming project is alfalfa sprouts. They're starting to sprout right now. I've already sampled some, and I can see why alfalfa sprouts are the classic sprout. I still have several more packets of seeds to work my way through, but I'm definitely planning on getting larger quantities of alfalfa and radish seeds. They can keep the lentils and the broccoli.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Geometry and Measurement

I just got Kumon's Geometry & Measurement: Grade 2 in the mail today. Kumon has a new series of these workbooks covering grade 1 through grade 6. I was very pleased to discover them at Barnes and Noble because while Kumon has a attractive line of workbooks for preschoolers, many of their math workbooks for early elementary school are pretty dry (just a bunch of arithmetic with no visuals). Geometry & Measurement: Grade 2 has less geometry than I would like (C is pretty keen on geometry after reading Flatland), but there is a lot of variety. They've got some exercises to get kids comfortable with working with numbers up to 10,000, some telling time, some work with rulers, some work with weights, money counting and finally some geometry. It's a great little workbook and I hope C will like it. I'd also eventually like to try Kumon's line of workbooks for Word Problems. Those also cover grades 1 through 6.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Star Trek

C told some boys that she liked Star Trek during art today. One of the boys, L, told her that she must be a tomboy and that he would invite her to his birthday party.

Radish sprouts

I've just finished sprouting out some radish seeds. These are my favorites so far. They're milder than adult radishes and it doesn't feel like work to eat them. I like them with honey mustard salad dressing.

The directions on these sprouts say to put them in a dish of cold water and then to skim the seed hulls off the top. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but my seed hulls don't cooperatively float to the top. My sprouts are also sprouting much faster than the directions indicate, but I suppose 80-82 degree indoor temperatures will do that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Xantippe broadens her repertoire

I've had my driver's license for a bit over a year, and I confess that I don't feel comfortable driving somewhere unless I've learned the route pretty well (just so I don't miss a turn or fly past a stop sign). My main accomplishment over the past year is that I pick the kids up from school and occasionally drive to the grocery store. Woohoo! I am currently working on the route to C's physical therapy. I drove the kids there today with my husband providing pointers. I'm hoping that if I do the route once or twice more that I'll have it down. That route gives me the zoo, too, which is nice. We have GPS, but I tend to get rattled by construction detours, tree trimmers, etc. If I add one route a semester, it's a big deal for me. We're also putting away $20 a month toward a highway driving course for me.

The therapist thinks that C needs a month more of physical therapy. She's making progress, but they are working on her running and walking heel-to-toe. Now that it's the school year, she's doing therapy along with another child, and C is enjoying it and seems a lot more motivated.

Facebook

We went our favorite cafeteria tonight for dinner, as usual. At the table next to us, a group of students was having a lively discussion of the awkwardness of meeting a Facebook friend in real life on campus and discovering that you don't like them.

Peter Pan

C finished Peter Pan last night. It took her a long, long time to get to sleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to the zoo

Our zoo membership lapsed at the end of July and it took us until today to renew it. Zoos are excellent kid entertainment, but very difficult to enjoy during the summer. It's been a long time since I've been there and a number of things had changed. There's now an interesting musical installation made from a a big metal drum and a bunch of new construction in the section that houses Asian animals. There's now a rope playground for kids that mirrors the amenities available to the orangutangs nearby. We took no stroller with us, just a backpack with contraband water bottles. That was heavy, but with everybody being big and well-behaved, it was much easier than I remember trips to the zoo being. The kids didn't complain once about being tired, even though they walked all the way. This is a very interesting discovery and I'm filing it away for future reference.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Squares

C was explaining to me in the car that you can make a square using two triangles, four triangles, or two rectangles. At lunch, my husband and I were talking to her about squares and square roots. C understands the idea of squaring, but this was her first exposure to square roots. While we were quizzing her, she was quizzing D on zero minus two.

UPDATE: C brought me a sheet of paper demonstrating three different ways to make a square.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Unbirthday

One of the neighbor girls several doors down baked and decorated two cakes and invited the kids to an unbirthday party this afternoon. The two neighbor girls treated their younger brother, my kids, and four other neighbor kids to cake and lemonade. Eventually the kids went to the back yard and hopped in a pile of leaves and then to the front yard to swing on ropes and ride scooters.

96+96=182

C just popped out of bed, bringing me a tiny envelope with the following equation on it: 96+96=182. I suggested that she use that trick where she regroups it as 90+90+6+6. She quickly came up with 192 as her second answer.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Adventures in colorblindness

D has been dressing up as a tiger today, using the dress-up gear (tiger paw mittens and a tiger tail) that we got when we visited the Princeton bookstore three years ago. When he got up this morning, he was wearing green jammies. I had to change him into jeans so that he would have belt loops to tie the tail to, but he thought he should keep the green top.

D says: The reason I'm wearing a green shirt is it's the closest color to orange.

C makes maps and diagrams

As I was looking for recycling fodder in C's room, I came across a stash of maps and diagrams C had done. She says some were free-hand, some were traced. She has a map of the Western Hemisphere, a map of the US with the state boundaries sketched in, a map of Texas with major cities, a map of our city with our house shown in relation to HEB (this one was the least trustworthy geographically), a map of our street with our house and the homes of her little chums marked, and lastly a diagram of our house with almost all the rooms market.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

School House Rock

The kids' current Netflix movie is School House Rock. Did you know that they have a cartoon explaining dollar cost averaging?

Persepolis

We just finished watching Persepolis (2007). It's a very engaging French-language animated (not for little kids!) mainly black and white film about a girl from an elite family growing up during the Iranian Revolution and eventually trying to get by in Vienna. Tex, it might or might not be your son's cup of tea.

Sugar glider

The kids got to see a sugar glider at school yesterday. Sugar gliders are adorable little Australian and Indonesian marsupials that are named for their taste for sweets and their ability to glide through the treetops like flying squirrels. I had no idea that they even existed until yesterday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mung beans II

I soaked the mung beans for nearly 12 hours and then set them up to sprout. There were visible roots by next morning and by late this morning, they had about 1/2 an inch or 3/4 of an inch of root. The directions say to eat them at 1-3". I've started eating the sprouts already from the container (they are slightly starchy with a crunch) and I like them a lot better than the broccoli sprouts. (The broccoli tasted like broccoli--I know, who knew?) That means that from start to finish, I can have mung bean sprouts in 24 hours.

I'm playing this by ear. The seed packets give exact directions, for instance to rinse the mung beans three times a day during sprouting. However, my sprouting container says that flavor is better (except for salad sprouts) if you don't rinse. The first time around (with my broccoli sprouts) I was puzzled by the conflicting directions and didn't rinse enough, and I think that by the end of the process, the sprouts were starting to go off (i.e. ferment). So, my current inclination is to rinse according to the seed packet directions. I also preferred the broccoli sprouts earlier rather than later. So I think that there's no harm in harvesting quickly, rather than waiting for full growth. They're sprouts, after all.

Dodgeball

We picked up C early from school yesterday, so I got to see a few seconds of her PE class. I am happy to report that dodgeball is alive and well in Texas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mung beans

D insisted that we do some sprouting today, so I'm soaking some mung beans. Late tonight, I'll rinse them and leave them to sprout. I don't know that I've ever had mung bean sprouts, unless it's something that I've had in Asian restaurants without knowing what it is.