Vol IV, No 10 - October 18, 2022
Happy October, pass the Halloween candy. Why? Because peanut butter cups, that's why. Oh sure, I could probably spin an entertaining yarn about stress and raising gifted kids and homeschooling and beloved pets who puke in the soccer cleats as you're late getting the kids to practice, but let's be honest. A day that ends in Y is reason enough to reach for your favorite candy. Maybe multiple reaches; I can neither confirm nor deny I have ever done that.
But let's talk raising gifted kids. Specifically gifted toddlers. Some would say that it's not possible to have a gifted toddler, that the Gifted Fairy™ descends upon 3rd graders with the magic Gifted Fairy Dust™ and that's that. I'd like to stick Gifted Fairy Dust™ up some people's <redacted>. Of course it's possible to have a gifted toddler! I've raised them, taught them, sworn mightily because of them. Today's featured essay by Jessica Lawrence triggered parenting flashbacks brought back fond memories of those days. And it's funny. As someone who lives by the motto of laugh to keep from screaming, I loved her writing.
This month we also dive into the other end of gifted parenting with GHF Conversations: Homeschool to Higher Ed and Beyond. Back to back talks with experts in homeschooling into college and intrinsic motivation.
So pull up a peanut butter cup or three and enjoy October with GHF. Next month? Best tips for surviving the holidays with gifted kids. We're gonna need a bigger candy bag.

Jen Merrill is a writer, musician, teacher, ed-tech marketing advisor, and gifted-family advocate. The mom of two boys, she homeschooled her twice-exceptional teen through high school while happily sending his younger brother off to his high school every morning. Those days now in the past, she is settling into the somewhat quieter life of an empty-nester. Her book, If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?, struck a nerve with families; her second book, on the needs of gifted parents and self-care, will be finished shortly before the heat death of the universe. In addition to writing on her longtime blog, Laughing at Chaos (currently on hiatus, returning this summer refreshed and relaxed), Jen has presented at SENG, NAGC, and WCGTC.

Jen brings both her acquired wisdom and her experience as a teacher and mentor to her work in the service of parents, teaching them techniques and mentoring them into their own versions of success. Her goal is to support parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids, because they are the ones doing the heavy lifting and are too often ignored, patronized, and discredited. It is her hope that her sons never have to deal with these issues when they raise their own likely gifted children.
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Gifted Toddlers
by Jessica Lawrence

Well, hello there! If you picked up this book, it’s probably because you are responsible for a flailing, wailing, wriggling bairn who is gradually transforming into a mobile, babbling one. Congratulations! You survived the first year of your progeny’s life, and you’re ready to dive into what’s next.

What’s that, you say? “Ready” is not a word you’d use? Hmmm… Well, like it or not, that tiny sprout of yours is changing, and you will need to change, too.

Which is why we have gathered a team of crack experts to give you advice on all the right things you must do to ensure that your child develops into a contributing member of society. Read on for information such as:

Chapter 1: My child wants to potty train, but they don’t make underwear that small
Chapter 2: My child has zero interest in potty training and no preschool will take them, and no, rewards don’t work
Chapter 3: I tried every strategy in the Sancti-mommy Handbook and my child will only eat three foods
Chapter 4: Will I ever sleep again?
Chapter 4b: 18 different positions for a 6’ human to curl up in a toddler bed
Chapter 4c: Will I ever sleep in the same bed as my partner again?
Chapter 5: “Do sumping NEW today, Mommy:” The burnout of inquisitiveness
Chapter 6: Why aren’t the other toddlers at playgroup conversing with my child?
Chapter 7: No, I’m not hothousing my 2-year-old, they learned to fingerspell in sign language by watching DVDs
Chapter 8: Maps, monuments, and dinosaurs, oh my! Special interests are cool
Chapter 9: This child will never play on their own
Chapter 10: “Your reaction does not match the situation” (Spoiler alert: telling them this doesn’t fix dysregulation)
Chapter 11: Automatic flush toilets, shoplifting alarms, and other evils of modern society
Chapter 12: “When will I die?”: Heartwarming bedtime conversations

You may have guessed by now that this is not your ordinary parenting book. I know, there are volumes out there by learned experts with decades of experience. Who have great advice. That works for lots of kids.

But not your kid. Or at least, not all of it. Or all of the time. Or any of the time.

If any of this resonates, you may have a gifted toddler. Oh, I know, I know, everyone thinks their offspring is gifted. And every child has gifts. But there are kids who are extra: extra intense, extra curious, extra talkative… they’re just… more of a lot of things. And some of those, as they get older, will be identified as having intellectual gifts and need to learn in a different way.

It can feel very isolating, when your child is always the outlier. When they can recite facts verbatim but lose all language if their socks fit wrong. When they rely on you 24/7 to co-regulate their emotions, which means that you’re regulating for two people TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN.

Fortunately, you’re in the right place. There are people here who have been there, done that, and written their own unique journey through toddlerhood for their child who defied all the recommendations in the parenting books. 

So my number one recommendation is: 
Reach out and connect with other parents of gifted kids. This is harder in rural areas, but COVID has really spurred the growth of online communities. They frequently know more than the books.

Provide your child with interesting materials, books, sensory materials, and experiences. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. One friend of mine had a weekly expedition to Goodwill, where her child played with the toys in the toy aisle for an hour and then they bought one to bring home. Rotate toys so things seem new, and swap with friends if you can. Go on nature walks and collect sticks and rocks and leaves. Let them play with cooking utensils and ingredients (or just water and ice) while you cook. Libraries often have more than just books, and sometimes even museums have lending libraries.

Follow your child’s lead. I’ll be the first to advocate for play-based early childhood experiences, and this doesn’t supersede that. But if your child wants to dive down a rabbit hole about the elements, or shows passion for a musical instrument, or loves numbers so much that you can entertain them with a pocket calculator, go for it! Support their love, make it fun, and learn to ignore the knowing looks from parents and teachers who think that it’s coming from you.

Remember that this, too, shall pass. No stage lasts forever (though some may seem like it). Your child will eventually eat/sleep/toilet train (but may need professional allies or medication to help with one or more of these things, and that’s ok, too!). There will be many imperfect days, and each one is just one day. Model grace and forgiveness for your child and yourself. 

You got this.

P.S. - Keep a pad of Post-It Notes in your pocket or purse. When you encounter an evil automatic toilet, put one over the sensor. You’re welcome.

Suggested Resources:
Play-at-Home Mom: I owe my sanity to this website. Seriously.
Self-Reg for Parents: I wish I’d known this when my child was a toddler. Anything by Dr. Stuart Shanker or Dr. Mona Delahooke is incredibly eye-opening.
Raising Human Beings: This is a book written for parents of young children by one of the greatest experts on complex kids, Dr. Ross Greene.
Jessica Lawrence, M.Ed., began her career as a circus ringmaster, I mean, wrangling infants and toddlers at age 9 (ah, the 80s, when a 9-year-old could babysit an infant). After working professionally with the birth-to-five population for fourteen years, she thought she was more than prepared for a munchkin of her own. She was wrong. 

Her other qualifications include a background in music therapy, psychology, and early childhood special education, and a National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. She is presently enrolled as a doctoral student at The Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity and provides consulting services through All Kids in All Places.

Jessica educated herself on the characteristics, parenting challenges, and educational opportunities for gifted and twice exceptional children out of necessity while raising and homeschooling her 2e, profoundly gifted daughter. Through this, she has also recognized her own twice-exceptionality. She currently exists in a perpetual state of disarray, surrounded by books and projects and pets and kids (no, wait, she only has one, but it feels like a whole bunch of kids) near Seattle.
GHF Conversations - This Saturday, Oct. 22
GHF Press Featured Title

Catch Made for Math’s
Unlocking Dyscalculia Web Series –
Episode 3 features GHF author of Discovering Dyscalculia, Laura Jackson!
“Listeners will come away with a better understanding of dyscalculia from how it looks in the brain, what assessment looks like, intervention, and lived experiences causing all who listen to embrace that dyscalculia is a brain-wiring difference, not a deficit." Listen here.

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