Ok, you wanna hear the TRUTH? The truth is unless you drug it out they're gonna have a lot of Mary Poppins days. The data is that meds don't affect statistical outcomes, supposedly, if you believe the studies. The reality is that at SOME point you'll want the meds because he won't hit his top scores on college testing without them.
First psych I ever used with my kids was this amazing cathartic experience for me, this sin eater. I went in saying how hard she was to teach and that I needed explanations. He said ADHD and low processing speed and poor word retrieval. Fine. Sounds like stuff you can control, but at least we had explanations. Then I started going through every single subject in my hyper-detailed way, saying math, I could use this to this to this. And every single time I was showing him I had a range of choices from really formulaic, in the box, predictable, blah blah, to something kind of in the middle (a bit of each), to WAY out of the box, like unit studies and hands-on and way out there.
And you know what? Every single time I got to my WAY OUT THERE option, that was what the guy was like yes, go that way.
Now I've sent other people to that psych, and they were like oh he's flat and horrible and doesn't talk. I don't know, he talked to me for hours, and that was the jist of what he said. Go as far out of the box as you can, as often as you can, and STOP WORRYING.
His point was that she had a high enough IQ that she was going to learn, no matter what, and that we were either gonna enjoy the ride and have a good time or we weren't. We were either gonna roll with how she really would learn and thrive, or we weren't. Either way, she was going to have high scores, graduate, and do well in college.
So what did I do? I went so far off the farm, off the spectrum, that if you knew you'd probably be like OH MY LANDS HOW DID SHE GIVE CREDIT FOR THAT?!?! And you know what? It doesn't matter a flip. My kid had top notch ACT scores, is doing great in 300 level classes as a freshman, is writing her papers, and she's fine.
Whether you make this ride rigid or wonderful, he's still going to come out with high scores and be fine. How much fun do you want to have? How far are you willing to bend? He's probably going to learn IN SPITE of you, not because of you. Good teachers figure out that they're there to facilitate.
You either have to medicate for Mary Poppins or plan on them. You're not going to stop them. Caffeine is fine as a trial, if you want. It can help. It's not stable, has a really short half-life, and doesn't affect as many parts of the brain. The easiest thing would be to give him access to the meds and see if he likes them. Or try caffeine first, see how far it gets you, then decide on meds.
The other thing to watch is fatigue. We could go all into it with methylation defects, blah blah, but reality is my dd fatigues very easily. We're talking about something much more complex than a volitional attention process. The dopamine levels are part of the methylation cycle. So no matter what, even with meds, my dd just FATIGUES. And guaranteed you probably have some cycles there, if you were to take data.
So plan rest days and plan days off. PLAN it. Once a week would not be crazy. Like plan 4 days of work and day 5 is flex day, his own pursuits. That way it's not rattling you. Or figure out the pattern to his Mary Poppins days. You could decrease the overall daily load to get him to five days a week. With my dd, we had a point where it really helped her to do a little (1-2 hours) on Sunday nights. That transition was really bad to Monday mornings.
Now I'll be really specific. When you do Strongs Interest Inventory stuff on my dd, she's 1/3 creative. She really thrived on having time for that. It was a SIGNIFICANT part of our day. I don't know what your ds' strengths and areas are, but he will really NEED that. It's restorative and healthy. No, not a huge fan of CLE. Yes a huge fan of STRUCTURE, but not CLE specifically. It turned my dd's brain off. With her, I tended to use things that were more toward mastery and add in something for spiral (fact review) and something for brain teaser. With my ds, btw, I use a lot of workbooks from places I'm forever listing around here (Teacher Created Resources, Evan Moor, Carson Dellosa, etc.). They have brain teasers, word problems, graphing art, editing, differentiated reading, all kinds of stuff. You could pull the ebooks in, use a pdf editor, and let him type his answers for the reading comprehension stuff. Not sure exactly what curriculum you're needing. It just sounds like your ds has the skill set to be able to work like that and that it would be a normal thing to do.
With my dd, I used Microsoft One Note and made a virtual notebook with tabs for each subject. Then I could put in course syllabii, hyperlinks to videos and websites, pdfs for worksheets and tasks, etc. Yes, yes, yes independent, increasing independence, is appropriate for this age! There's a balance there. It's the right age to be doing it, but you want to be around, having check-ins, seeing that they're on track. You start with high levels of support and fade as they show they're ready to take over. It's not all support or no support. So maybe in 8th we were checking in once in the morning, once in the afternoon, but in younger grades she was checking in every HOUR.
My dd always yearned to do unit studies. It really appeals to that creative, let me go fast, go getter side. Bring in those elements. We did some Beautiful Feet stuff, Wordsmith Apprentice.
Lightning Lit isn't age-appropriate, is it? Do you ever wonder if you confuse his giftedness with readiness and make things just plain too hard? If you want someone to do something independently, you have to drop the instructional level.
There are more ways to appeal to his giftedness than just having him do curriculum that is 2-3 grades above his age. My dd was like that, where everything constantly seemed off, too easy. I get the tendency. Just don't do it. There's no benefit. Look for things that are more creative, more interesting, more brain tingling, that have interesting APPLICATION of the content and skills, rather than just pushing into harder skills. Like in math they call this going BROAD rather than just going ahead.
I had a book of debate prompts about that age. You seem to like structure, so you could tell him to make a powerpoint presentation for one each week. So now you're getting creative, going multi-media, working on typing, etc. and you're making him THINK and debate.
Does he keep up with news and current events? That was about the age I had my dd receiving God's World News and Muse magazine. There's a Time Magazine for kids that you can view online at various reading/age levels. He could read those, pick one to read more about by googling, and then come prepared to discuss at a weekly tea.
Apply more, don't just plow ahead into harder material. It's not really going to be hard anyway, only tedious. That's what I finally had to realize, that my dd was constantly working HERSELF at a much harder level than any curriculum was. Advancing didn't make a difference. Later, when she was in high school, I had her read through essay collections, the Nancy Pearson books, things that would make her think. Around 8th she was reading through the high school TOG philosophy books. With those I would read ahead the chapters and make her study guides myself. Once she hit high school, I had ds and was overwhelmed. I just had her read and keep a response journal. That drove her crazy, but she later realized WHY when she got into college classes and was being told to keep one.
Don't get in the way of his education with too much stuff. Figure out what his brain is trying to do and make time in the day for it. Figure out what his brain ISN'T getting done, and make a plan for it. Try to do more application, more creativity, more thinking, not just more content. Go farther out of the box and don't be afraid.
I paid $2k for that advice.
PS. I totally, totally respect moms who have a really structured approach. Like I read what Heathermomster gets done and it's very WOW. My ds, I think, will respond to that really clear, consistent structure. He does now, so I expect it to continue. What I do with my ds is NOT what I did with my dd. My dd was that really typical Mary Poppins, ADHD-inattentive, and what I listed above is what I did with her. Like in high school, I bought her books on costume history. Piles of books, $50 a pop books. And she would sit and read them and compare and design and think and make connections. She did a study of ballerina tutus and stuff that to me is a bunch of stupidity, honestly. We made sure she had TIME for that. She had required stuff, stuff with a syllabus, but she had enough time to pursue these other things that HER brain wanted to do. It was fine. The skills she learned with her pursuits are skills she has to carry over to other things now and be successful. She had to learn how she learns and she did it by learning. She already had strong skills to do blatant things like go through a textbook. We were doing high school texts in junior high. They just weren't interesting, thought provoking. Advancement isn't as good as THOUGHT. I tried to make sure she was thinking and analyzing, no matter what she was doing. That has held up well for her.
Edited by PeterPan, 04 February 2018 - 01:01 PM.