Homeschooling, Life Lessons and New Choices

Why did we start homeschooling our gifted son?

This year has been like hitting the reset button for me: a chance to start anew and create a life where suffering is not an option. I refuse to complain that my world is not as I want it to be. In every possible way, this year is all about change.

Given all the health problems of a flu epidemic that we have experienced in Málaga over Christmas, we made a drastic change with my husband and my son. We started homeschooling.

It was a decision that filled us with fear.

Fear, especially of what others would say. As it turned out, the vast majority supported us, and in fact, there were some friends who said, “If anyone can homeschool, it’s you. I don’t know anyone who is as open-minded as you to do this.” There were also those who said, “Your child is not yours, he belongs to the State!” in a threatening tone.

The fact is that here in Spain, this issue is not legalized: it’s not legal, but it’s not illegal either. One law claims that parents are required to provide education to their children. Although it doesn’t specify kids must enrol in school.

On the other hand, we have the Education Law, which states that education is mandatory between the ages of 6 and 16. Additionally, it doesn’t state the requirement for children to be attending school.

But aside from the law and what one or the other says, what held us back the most with homeschooling was that my son wouldn’t interact with other children. So I sat down to talk to him and that conversation changed everything.

For some years now, we have known that he is a gifted child. Last year, at the request of his schoolteacher, the school psychologist evaluated him with over ten sessions of assessment exercises of these abilities.

These types of evaluations are not done until age 6 here in Spain, but the teacher insisted because his boredom in class was increasing. The conclusion of the evaluation is that he is gifted in 5 out of 8 skills, with an exceptional ability in math.

Surprisingly, he performed the worst in memory and other skills that are not typically weak for him. The psychologist’s conclusion was that he is gifted and probably even beyond what he showed. He didn’t prove it because he got bored with some exercises and tried to “cover the expected” in some tests just to be allowed to leave.

The conversation that changed everything started with me asking:

-But if we homeschool, you won’t play with your friends during recess, do you understand that?

-Well, I didn’t play with many friends either. They all play football, which is really stupid to run after a ball. (it’s true, he’s been saying that since he started school)

-Who do you play with during recess? — I kept asking.

-Well, I play with Juan, Clara, sometimes with Alejandro… but well, Alejandro isn’t really my friend because he pushes me and kicks me sometimes, but I have to play with him because he’s the best at soccer and he runs fast. (I changed the names throughout the story so that no one would be identified)

-And with Clara, what do you play?

-Well, we played once, looking for a tiny house for the bugs in the courtyard and trying to keep those who play football from stepping on them. We pretended to be the dad and mom of a black beetle and a multiped. But we haven’t played in a long time.

So, in reality, my son was having a hard time at school, even interacting with other children. He has a great time with older children, between 8 and 10 years old, with whom he gets along well. However, we only find these kids in playgrounds because at school he has to be with kids his age.

-What do you like most about school? Is there anything you like? — I kept asking.

-I really like the bonuses! Although I’ve only gotten the bonus twice. It would be great if I could get it more times.

-What‘s the bonus?

-Well, when I finish the assignment before the other kids, if I do it well and behave well, the teacher gives me a blank sheet of paper and I can write the numbers from 1 to 100. And the second time I got it, I could write them from 1 to 500.

-And this bonus is only given to you? — I asked, despite knowing the answer. Children at this age study numbers from 1 to 9, at least in Spanish schools. My blood boiled.

-Yes, she only gives it to me. The others keep doing their worksheets and I can do this until they finish. Mom, do you think that when I’m in first grade, the teacher will let me bring a notebook for when I finish my assignments? I’ll put it under the table so the other kids don’t see it and I won’t distract them… and I can do my additions and subtractions.

Definitely, if my son weren’t in front of me right now, I would scream. And if the teacher were in front of me, uuuff… may God help her! How much anger I had inside!

How much anger towards the system, but also, how much anger towards myself. Is that why I wanted to have a child? For him to feel frustrated and crushed from an early age and for all the adults to tell him that that’s normal, that he is not normal and that he must learn to behave well and not show his abilities so that society can accept him. Seriously, can the world be so cruel?

We were in the dark, and I could hide my tears of anger.

Afterward, this entire society writes about the liberation of the human being and how they support different children. They create awards and give themselves medals for defending children’s rights!

What about the right to be different, intelligent, and much bolder from a young age? Oh no, this is a threat in our society! We cannot allow children to turn out so “weird.” They have to know from a young age where the limits are, right?

I let my husband know about this conversation, and it equally riled him up. I think that was when we realized we needed to “wake up” and defend our child. We must show him we believe in his uniqueness and that’s something amazing.

We began the journey of homeschooling.

We organize tasks, and every day of the week, we cover math, reading, writing, and English learning. We also have half an hour of “questions to Google” with a video included on a topic that interests him. They are usually of the style of “how is made”, for example, “how is glass made”.

We also explore “what structure wood has” or “what existed before the universe existed”. Thanks to my son, I learned what the groove between the nose and lips is called, the philtrum, and what it’s for. I’m learning to genuinely discover the world and not take things for granted, but to ask “why?”

And in the afternoons, it seems like the stars aligned to offer us the solution to socialization. My son loves mountain biking. At just 5 years old, he already rides 20 kilometers on his bike and has quite a skill. So we signed him up for a trial with a cycling club and they took him right away. In fact, in the second week, the head coach told us he will go with the older kids from 10 to 12 years old because he’s getting bored with the younger ones. There will be things he doesn’t know how to do, but that’s how he gets motivated to keep learning.

Recently, a friend mentioned that she’s in a robotics workshop with LEGO blocks with her son. She suggested that if we’re interested, it’s close by, so we could go.

My son got hooked right away: LEGO and robotics hand in hand. They are the second-best activities my son likes the most. And in the first official class, he built a robotic hand and added basic programming. They “code“ by drag-and-drop drawing of commands onto a line of operation of the object.

The second robot my son did collects LEGO bricks, sings and twist 🙂

I had to study for 7 years to “play” like this during my master’s degree in home automation. Naturally, that filled me with a lot of envy.

But it also reinforced the idea that if you want to learn something, you can do it. It’s just a matter of not considering failure at any time. A kid never thinks they can’t do something before trying.

We’ve been homeschooling for two months now.

My son has learned to add and subtract numbers up to 3 digits, and he discovered how multiplication works. Also, he knows the names of animals and dinosaurs that I didn’t even remember existed. He can read syllables in Spanish and write simple words without copying.

In English, he understands simple sentences and has a wide vocabulary. In this article, I explain how we did the “Shapeville Collage” activity to practice colors in English, the names of shapes, and some basic words about landscapes and the city.

But what I like most, above all, is the serenity that fills the air.

No shouting, no protests, no bad vibes of “I don’t want to go to school” every single day. No punishments, nor attempts to get him to do things “the right way”.

We are calm and make joint decisions as a family altogether.

It feels like we’ve finally unlocked the door to a mysterious realm perfectly crafted to bring us joy and fulfillment.

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