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  1. It seems like original questions of this thread could be summarized like this: 1) Does your kid know their achievements/abilities are above average? 2) If so, what does the kid attribute that to? 3) What does the parent attribute that to? --------------------------- 1) Sort of, mostly for math. When he was in K-2nd grade and spending every spare moment obsessed with chemistry, he knew that no kids (and almost no adults) in his orbit understood chemical reactions as well as he did, but he also knew they didn't try. Right now he's into computer programming, but only knows adult programmers. I'm not sure he's noticed that he has a college physics book. But for math, it's hard to avoid knowing that many kids study the same things with a certain timing. In 4th or 5th grade, he started occasionally using math books (or discarding them as too easy), asked when kids normally studied those things, and I told him. 2) That some people can "learn certain things more easily" than other people, or than they themselves learn other things. 3) I know that both parents, some grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc... were identified as gifted, so I'm pretty sure a lot is genetic. My kid has had the prerequisite exposure of a rich family life, but not a lot of parent-directed effort. ---------- On a side note, the kid I'm talking about here didn't read well until 9.5 yrs old, read "Lord of the Rings" as his second ever chapter book, and at 12, I don't notice any deficits in his vocabulary or general knowledge compared to my earlier reader or to other bright kids.
  2. I always succeeded in academics more easily, with less work, than most people around me. I had the opposite experience with physical skills -- I do less well than the average person learning a new physical skill. In my experience, and looking at my kids experience, putting more work in only exacerbates natural differences, because the person innately better at it gets more out of each unit of work. I enjoy backcountry skiing, but am a slow physical learner. I've put in quite a bit of work and practice, enough to be competent and enjoy myself at an intermediate level. My kids are, I'd guess, about average in their innate skiing ability. My son loves it, and, comes skiing with me about half the time. He gets more of a boost than I do from each practice. So he's already better than I am, and that difference will get larger and larger the more we go out. It's even more if we get any sort of teaching, because he can integrate the advice more easily. My daughter is so-so about skiing and doesn't come very often. I get enough more practice than her that I am still learning faster, despite her better innate ability. We can all improve, would improve more with perfect teaching, and are all better skiers than people who haven't practiced. But those innate differences are real. It seems like some people find that easier to accept for physical than academic skills, but it seems equivalent to me. My math/science kid has always been "ahead" in math, but didn't work hard OR have good teaching. In fact, when he was young, math was only occasional and incidental to other interests (balancing a chemical equation in his chemistry obsession phase, a math game hiking, etc...). I'm fairly child led, and when he was younger, I generally only directly stepped in and taught/required things if I was concerned I didn't see them naturally happening. So I taught him to read (which I never had to teach my non-dyslexic kid). But I basically didn't teach elementary or middle school math, and am not at all sure how he learned it, but he had access to books and videos and games and parents who could understand and talk about those things. Exposure was there in his world. Everyone needs exposure -- without it, innate ability can't help you. A brilliant natural skier who's never seen snow can't do much. There are so many things you could potentially learn, and only a relatively few (math, reading), that we tend to elevate to enough importance and spend enough time teaching a majority of kids these things that it even makes sense to call kids "accelerated." But I wonder if we spent more time teaching these things, in a better and more individualized fashion, would we make kids generally more or less even in their skills? Everyone would improve, but not all at the same rate.
  3. The free phyphox app lets you do a variety of mechanics and acoustics labs using the sensors in a smart phone, and there's a you tube channel explaining the experiments. https://phyphox.org/
  4. When I was a kid, I was in a self-contained gifted program from 1st-8th, which fed into honors/AP in a high school. We got accelerated work in general. My parents always said it was key to keeping me in public school -- I was the type of kid to refuse work/skip school if I didn't find it interesting. My husband got a few special activities in a gifted pull-out program. He was much more a teacher-pleaser type who was happy to get 110% on an easy assignment. As for my kids, homeschooling means I've been able to deemphasize ability variations (not much of a pool to compare to), but of course they notice. My probably dyslexic mathy kid didn't read well until 9.5 yrs old, but could always easily understand math and science well beyond other kids his age. Pretending that was caused by his work ethic would not have helped him with either subject. There are obvious differences in strengths and weaknesses between my kids, and it wouldn't be fair to either of them to pretend those aren't real. I usually just talk about how some people learn certain things more easily/quickly than others, and people can additionally choose to focus more or work harder on certain things. We've been fairly unschool-ish, especially when the kids were little, so I have not really tried to accelerate anyone in anything -- where it happens it's just nature and/or interest. My younger is now in public school (her choice), and is my easy going even-ability kid that's usually pretty quiet about what she knows. I don't know if she's gifted, and it doesn't really matter since there is no sort of program in our tiny school anyway.
  5. Just found an amazing free app that lets you do physics labs and experiments using the sensors on a smartphone: https://phyphox.org/ It has a lot of mechanics, acoustics, and light, and a youtube channel with lots of experiments explained. Data can be easily saved and exported from the app. The creators are from Germany, so I'm not sure how many folks here are familiar with it, and I wanted to share.
  6. I told him to go through all the pre-tests for all the classes he was interested in to make his decision, so hopefully he chose wisely. If not, figuring out how to make those decisions is part of learning too, and I think it's important to let him try. There is that 3 class drop time if he's totally overwhelmed, and if he decides to stick with it I certainly don't care about the grade. This is also a kid who only likes doing math if it's skating the edge of way too hard (which has made it basically impossible to find any math book he'll go through). Sometimes he takes that too far (decided to back off after the first 5 or so chapters of the AOPS calculus book last year), but other times it works out well for him.
  7. We're pretty loose and interest led here, but as my kid gets older I figure there might be benefits in being more organized, at least by college application time, so am slowly moving a bit that way. 7th grade: Listening to/discussing the book Sapiens, hopefully with some branch-off projects/research Learning to write research papers, continuing working on a long fantasy story he's been writing for awhile (this kid is almost certainly at least somewhat dyslexic, and not particularly advanced in writing) Intermediate Number Theory class with AOPS (no idea how this will work out as a first official math class, but he wants to try, and thinks intermediate is the right level for him). He found the page on the AOPS wiki that lists "introductory number theory" problems from various contests, and is working through those to prepare himself. Physics, using a college physics with calculus book we have, a book called "thinking physics", whatever experiments he or I can come up with, and anything else that seems useful. Computer programming. He's super into this right now, working on a web app that compares weather data with his dad and another programmer, and on his own is writing a program to visualize and analyze intertidal invertebrate data we've been collecting for years. The intertidal animals are a shared family obsession, so I'm super curious to see what he comes up with there. Typing -- whatever game he found online to practice. This kid refuses to write anything on paper unless he has no choice (even math -- he prefers LaTex), and can't spell, so typing seems pretty key. Spanish is something he knows pretty well, but we've not kept it up the past few years and I hope we can at least get back to conversation practice There aren't many official activities available in my tiny town, and none that my kid is interested in, but we do a lot of outdoor stuff all year. Will move from hiking and trail building to ice skating and skiing as the year progresses.
  8. I'm curious about test prep effects. I'm in Alaska, so my kids are part of that data (if it's recent enough). And I have two kids, both of whom took that test in 4th grade. My older just went in and did it as his very first exposure to standardized tests. He did well overall, and topped it in math, but would likely have done better in the writing portion if he had any experience at all in those sorts of questions. My younger was homeschooled until midway through 4th grade, then decided to go to school, and took the test there. They spent weeks! practicing for the test, and even the regular weekly curriculum includes standardized test practice. Also, since Covid, it's become easier for homeschoolers skip that test in Alaska. I did it once with a good excuse (foreign travel), but this year they presented it as completely optional, and I let my 6th grader skip it (2020 it didn't happen at all). The 2021 AK data will be fairly suspect, and I'll see what happens in 2022. I did once write an article on Alaska homeschooling using some of that data years ago. I'm also curious how many of the new homeschoolers stay (homeschooling jumped from 10% to 27% during covid), and how that will affect the data.
  9. My kid liked balance benders books also. And some apps -- Dragonbox, if I remember right. But mostly we just played with math conversationally. I would let reading/writing and math, and everything really, just go at the appropriate pace for that subject. My kid was advanced at math, but a very slow/late reader (there's a lot of dyslexia in the family), who didn't catch on to reading really well until 9.5 yrs old and still hates to write on paper. It would not have helped him to try and make his subjects match.
  10. That approach would have helped me as a kid, especially as a teenager. I was always good at math, but stopped after calculus in college, because I found it an easy A, but mind-numbingly boring. Learn algorithm, plug in numbers, learn next algorithm, etc...
  11. Of course. My example doesn't contradict the point. I was just saying that it's nearly impossible to point to any curriculum as the sole factor in understanding or lack of understanding a concept, since most important concepts come up in many places without specific study. Especially for elementary school math. So you never know if anything works in any curriculum, since you can only tell when a kid doesn't understand something. You'd need some kind of valid random sample of kids who'd used different curriculums (thoroughly and as designed) to look for gaps. Lacking that, all we have is a zillion anecdotes of individual kids that are thoroughly contaminated by casual outside-of-curriculum exposure. Even my less mathy kid found public school 4th grade math quite easy (it does seem much easier than BA) without doing much more curriculum in her life than a couple of the BA3 books and part of one BA4 book. Also, some kids are incredibly boredom averse (I was like this, so is my older more-mathy kid), and asking them to do anything that seems easy or straightforward for the sake of practice is a battle not worth fighting. I suspect the authors of those books were kids like that.
  12. I'd say combinatorics can come from the ether for mathy kids as well. BA 4 weren't books my mathy kid ever used, but he's certainly used factorials, and probability calculations come up all the time in regular geeky kid life (role playing, board games, etc...). Binary and alternate base math come up too. Not sure how his skills compare to those of a kid who'd seen that in a book, but think it'd be hard to find a concept in any math curriculum you'd be sure couldn't have come from life/conversation/youtube, especially for anything in elementary math.
  13. For my older kid, it's been his only curriculum, but really a supplement to absorbing math from the ether. He's only done bits and pieces from a handful of BA/AOPS books, skipping lots of levels, but he hasn't done anything from any other book either. I bought some of the books because hard/puzzly/proof type problems have always been the only kind my kid was willing to do, and it takes more time for me to come up with that kind of problem than for him to do one (especially as he gets older). It seemed helpful that someone had gone ahead and made lots of puzzles in a useful variety of topics with written explanations of the solutions. Of the books he's used, he's mostly just skipped around looking for interesting problems, and left the rest. My younger kid did well with BA (parts of level 3 and 4) before deciding to go to public school. She needed to go through the sections and do more of the simpler practice problems to get it, but the concept introduction in the books worked fine for her. Certainly she was well prepared for the (very simple) public school 4th grade math.
  14. Not structured, but my kid at that age loved playing "magic function." Player A thinks of a function (starting simple, like x+3, and as the kid gets better at the game, polynomials like x^3/3+x-4, square roots, 3 dimensional functions, etc...). Then Player B gives values of X, Player A spits out what the corresponding Y value would be, until Player B guesses the function. Then switch roles. The guessing has a strategy too, since the kid will quickly figure out that you can get useful info guessing fractions, zero, negative numbers, very big numbers, etc... Playing that game orally while on hikes and walks was probably 90% of the early math my kid did.
  15. Alaska uses a 'carrot' approach. Anyone can homeschool with zero oversight, but almost no one does, because if you sign up with one of the many official school district programs you get around $2000/yr per kid for educational expenses (more for high school), can check out a laptop or tablet, have the ability to take a class or two in the local school, participate in sports, optional homeschool field trips and contests, etc... In return, you have contact with an oversight teacher and have to turn in semester reports (pretty low paperwork requirement), and (pre-covid), do the same tests the public school kids do. I've never asked for much of anything other than the money, but the oversight teachers seem pretty friendly and helpful. Around 9-10% of Alaska kids are homeschooled in this system.
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