Monday, October 14, 2013

Homeschooling an Early Learner

Early Bird makes me really glad we homeschool. I enjoyed homeschooling even when it was just with Builder Boy. But I could never put Early Bird in a regular brick and mortar school. I have read too many personal stories of people who tired to work with a gifted child in the pubic school system and had a miserable time of it. And honestly, grade acceleration isn't what young, early learners need when their output levels don't match their input needs. Early Bird finished kindergarten level reading on his 3rd birthday, but a year and a half later still can't write. He can read at a 2nd/3rd grade level, but isn't ready for a whole chapter book. He's working at a 1st grade level in math, but still needs kindergarten manipulatives. And science he's....I'm not sure what grade level, but he's learning everything Builder Boy (2nd grade) is learning, but can't do the writing and worksheets and such that Builder Boy does. He's 4 and half years old. So we're homeschooling, and we'll probably be homeschooling until the kids are through high school.

Early Bird's first word read at age 2 years, 10 months
Concerning finding the perfect reading curriculum for a 2 year old who is learning to read: there isn't one. I looked for one, I asked around, such a thing does not exist. And waiting until your child is old enough for the curriculum that do exist is not an option when your child is begging to learn. After you're done freaking out about this development, teach them. They've already started learning, keep doing what you did that got them there. Teaching My Baby to Read has a lot of really wonderful ideas for using with young children that are inexpensive and DIY. Her blog is where I found out about the LeapFrog Word Builder that I bought for Early Bird when he had learned his letter names and sounds at age 2.5.

One of the best pieces of advice for teaching reading I learned from The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer: don't tie reading to writing. Some kids are ready to read long before they are ready to write. But if you tie the two together it can frustrate the early learner. I extended that to all learning for Early Bird. I'm not keeping him from learning something just because he can't do any accompanying worksheet or assignment. We do everything verbally and will continue to do so until he is ready to write. This makes doing 2nd grade history and science possible with an interested 4 year old.

When you do find a curriculum that you like remember: you are not a slave to the curriculum.You do not have to teach everything in that one curriculum, you can leave parts out that don't work for you. Needing to leave out a writing assignment or something else does not mean that it's necessarily the wrong program for you when you're using it with an early learner.

Reviewing 2nd grade words at 4 years, 7 months old
Concerning gap fears: you're probably going to have them. Both the fears, and the gaps. When a child is galloping ahead in interest and ability, some things do get left in the dust. Sometimes you don't find the gaps until an embarrassing time. Sometimes you figure them out. My favorite way to find gaps in the mos gaps areas is to occasionally do a grade level (of your child's age) general skills workbook that you can get at Walmart or the dollar store or If they can do one of those with no problem, then you're probably okay.

We are working through our reading curriculum as review even though Early Bird is reading at a high level than the lessons for the express reason of covering any gaps he may have missed. He loves doing this, so it does not frustrate him. This will not hold true for all early learners.

Mostly know that gaps happen with all children and they are nothing to be feared. Once discovered, and you will discover them eventually, children can learn what they need to fill it.

Concerning tests and finding your child's level: for the early stages you can use this blog post to figure out your early reader's reading level. I have also written about other reading assessment options, and I am continuing to look into other option.

I truly understand the desire to test your early learner and validate what you suspect about your child. Before you spend a lot of money having your kid tested, think about your reasons for testing. The Accelerated Learner Board on the The Well Trained Mind Forum has a lot of posts about testing, reasons for testing, and advice from homeschooling parents who have done it. Above all remember that comparison is the thief of joy.

Lastly, you can do it, and they can help. Homeschooling a gifted child can be both easier and much harder than homeschooling a neuro-typical child. Involve your child in curriculum choices and explore the rabbit trails. Let them develop a passion and go as far as they can with it. Try to remember to treat them like their age instead of their age level. And with the really little early learners remember that there is still plenty of time to get to everything.

This post is part of a Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop

Check out some of the other contributions in the hop:

5 Things You Need to Know Before Homeschooling a Gifted/2E Kid –
A Cattle Prod or a Magic Wand? – A 2e Fox Revived
A Dyscalculia Story and Aggressive Acceptance – Chasing Hollyfeld
Acronyms R Us – Buffalo Mama
Before You Teach, Erase Your Memories – Wenda Sheard, J.D. Ph.D. Thoughts on Life & Learning
Homeschooling an Early Learner – Sceleratus Classical Academy
Homeschooling and the Situational 2E – Crushing Tall Poppies
Homeschooling Gifted Learners – Eclectic Homeschooling
Homeschooling My Gifted Children (Newly updated!) – Corin Barsily Goodwin, GHF
Homeschooling my gifted/2e son for one month so far – San Antonio Charter Moms
Homeschooling Your Gifted Child – Modern Homeschooling
Nine things I love about homeschooling my 2e son…and four things I despise. – Laughing at Chaos
What Anxiety Looks Like – Quarks and Quirks


  1. There is a program for 2 year olds. Your Baby Can Read.
    I used it for my 4 year old. She reads at a 4 th grade level. Currently she's reading Roald Dahl. She understands what she reads and yes she earned phonics. It's actually quite funny, words that aren't phonetic, like gnome, make her mad.

  2. "Some kids are ready to read long before they are ready to write. But if you tie the two together it can frustrate the early learner." -- Good advice, and very true for our family.


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