From: S & A
Subject: Teaching a gifted child with the Trivium
After careful consideration of our experience with our daughter, who is seven now, we decided to have her tested for IQ and the areas of learning ability that this impacts. We were not surprised by the results, yet overawed by the degree of development in 10 out of the twelve areas. We will be receiving the report in a few days and then later have an interview. However, as it is with God, nothing is a coincidence… we are at this moment in life seriously evaluating our style of homeschooling, and both my husband and I are being changed and challenged by Christian Classical Education and everything in us says a vehement Yes. But this information regarding her abilities in the light of what you classify or better still recognize, as the Grammar stage, is a huge challenge to us, because we see her reading, comprehending and understanding far beyond her years chronologically. We also know her to be mature beyond her years, so how do we deal with the guidelines you provide or set in recognition of developmental milestones. We need some clarity on this issue, and while I am beginning to gain some understanding for myself that you have no desire to be prescriptive across the board as that would be defeatist to the purpose of educating each child individually, I am also lacking in wisdom and understanding of how should we approach this?
All wisdom and especially of those parents who have experienced similar scenarios is greatly appreciated.
S. in Sydney, Australia
Just because we talk about averages and usual ranges does not mean your child must be conformed to such things. No two children develop alike. That’s why the classroom factory model of education creates so many dysfunctional factory rejects. You need to honestly assess your child’s developmental stage, and conform the curriculum to the child, not vice versa.
For example, we are often quoted for mentioning a scientific observation — that developmentally speaking, children are not fully ready for formal workbook type math until about age nine or ten, and that it is more profitable to teach them in more concrete and informal ways until then. That’s a general rule of thumb. However, there are notable exceptions to this rule. I think I’ve even heard of one child who could perform calculus before age four or five. Presuming he is truly performing with comprehension, that does not mean that every child can potentially do calculus before age five. It also does not mean that this child is equally ahead in other parts of development, such as self-discipline, social skills, showing respect for elders, etc. In fact, in order to maintain some balance and humility, it may be necessary to draw attention away from some area of early emerging talent. That, of course, is the challenge to the parent.
In short, you must assess the development of your child in each area, then match the curriculum to your child’s development. Don’t try to fit your child into a prepackaged educational mold. If you see that your child is really ahead or behind in the game, then adjust to the child. You have to balance between challenging the child and frustrating the child.