Asynchronous Abilities {The Need for Varying Curriculum}

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Welcome to a 10-day series sponsored by Prufrock Press and iHomeschool Network. 40 bloggers, more than 350 posts, and some great giveaways {including my newest book!} in the “Pin to Win” contest, all over the course of two weeks.


So far, I’ve talked about the definition of giftedness and what twice-exceptional means. I’ve also spent a little bit of time sharing why I believe that homeschooling is best for gifted learners and why it’s important to consider your child’s learning style as you begin homeschooling. Today I’m going to share a bit about asynchrony and what it means for your gifted learners.

Got gifted kids in a public or private school instead of at home with you? This is for you, too.


Gifted kids are asynchronous.

Their development is uneven and out-of-sync compared with age peers. This often makes them feel very different when it comes to age-based school expectations. This is also why boxed {or grade-level based} complete curriculums rarely work well for them.

Consider my son:

Based on his age, Trevor would be in a fourth grade classroom or using a fourth grade curriculum if we went either of those routes. Instead, he’s using All About Spelling Level 2, working on writing simple paragraphs along with letter formation and spacing, and reading just above grade level.

He is completing 5th and 6th grade math simultaneously as he bounces between Teaching Textbooks on the computer and Math Mammoth workbooks. I also give him problem solving tasks and logic problems from several Prufrock Press books I own that are geared towards middle school students. Science-wise, we tend to learn about whatever I’m writing or researching at the time, or whatever topics have piqued his interest. Because of this, he immerses himself for days, weeks, or months at a time on specific topics, which fosters an incredibly deep sense of understanding commensurate with high school or college leveled students depending on the subject.

When I was a kid {and still as an adult} I finished whole books in under an hour, completely comprehending what I was reading. He is like that with LEGO sets and models. It takes him an hour or less to create or build most things, and he has an almost insatiable thirst for more, increasingly difficult, engineering tasks.

Like most gifted kids, he’s all over the place. In a regular classroom environment, asynchronous kiddos like my Trevor {and your little one?} struggle without proper modifications being made to their curriculum. But, how is that possible? In Trevor’s scenario, his teacher would need to teach him 2nd grade language arts, 5th grade reading, 6th grade math, grade-level {4th} social studies/history, and middle/high school science. Completely impossible with 20 other kids to think about.

Coupled with the levels of asynchronous learning, we’ve already established that a kid like Trevor learns differently. He needs constant change, lots of movement, and tons of hands-on challenges. Again, tough to do with lots of other kids around.

I’ve already made a case for why I think gifted kids learn best with the atmosphere and attention homeschooling can provide. Asynchrony is just another reason homeschooling works well for these kids.

But how do you meet these incredibly varying needs? Simple, really…take your cues from your child.

  • Take into consideration, first, his learning style. Make that your focus as you research and ask friends about different curriculums available.
  • Then, look at your kid’s strengths. You know him best. What is he excelling at? What are his passions? What does he struggle with or dislike? Make a list of your observations.
  • Use online placement tests at the different curriculum publishers’ websites to determine your child’s level in each subject for which you are looking to purchase a curriculum. Or, just go back to basics, grade-level-wise:
    • Do a placement test for math and order the curriculum level you need.
    • Use a spiral notebook to create a conversation journal between you and your child. Write to him each night and have him answer you in the morning. Use his letter to pinpoint his needs regarding sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, handwriting, and writing ability. If you see something glaring that needs work, look online and order a program or workbook that seems to match his needs. Otherwise, gently correct him by modeling the skills in your letters.
    • Read aloud exciting books several grade levels above his. Talk about what’s happening.
    • Provide him with a constant supply of books related to topics of interest. Talk about what he’s reading or have him do a project or report about it.
    • Try some of the ideas related to his learning styles from the descriptions yesterday.
    • Do some fun science experiments, visit museums, and read stories together set in historical times.

Okay—I know it’s not really simple. Finding different curriculums and projects to meet unique needs in different subjects is much more challenging than opening a box with everything laid out for you.

Next week, we’ll spend some time exploring different methods of learning that might help you meet your kids’ unique needs. I’ll share some things that have worked for me…and some that haven’t. Hopefully by the end of this series, you’ll have gained some insight and confidence as you continue on this journey with your gifted kids.

Anything specific you’re wondering about that I haven’t covered this week? Shoot me a message through the contact page, Twitter, or Facebook. I’ll answer as soon as I can.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend – especially those beautiful kids you’ve been blessed with – and I’ll see you all next week for the second half of the series.

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Also check out the 39 other fabulous bloggers who are participating in this 10-day Hopscotch sponsored by the iHomeschool Network and Prufrock Press.


Enjoy your day,

  • Bz Boyz

    This post speaks exactly to my youngest son! He’s going into 4th grade, still at a 2nd grade reading level, spelling is incredibly difficult for him, but he’s beginning Algebra, and works at a 5-6 grade level for history and sciences. He hates “school time”, but I know it’s because I’m not doing enough hands on. At the same time, I’ve got a 11 year old, gifted child, who likes to dissect every thought, and analyze everything he reads/learns. Very hard to find a balance between the 2.

    • Colleen Kessler

      Oh, yes! Balance between two very different gifted personalities is really tough! I hear you. Good luck with it… :-)

  • Ann Fischer

    I’m appreciating reading many of your posts, such wisdom here! Your kids are very blessed! We’re praying about school next year, our oldest is in Kindergarten and is smart as a whip – really delightful, a bit “spirited” in the best sense of the term – extremely interested in learning, explorative, etc. She was in PreK at a private school this year and thrived beautifully. We also have a 4 year old and a 2 year old – and it just doesn’t sit right with us to send her to public school. Thank you for your resources! And say a prayer for our discernment :)

    • Colleen Kessler

      Prayer said, Ann. I appreciate your words very much, and am so glad that some of my posts are resonating with you. That love of learning is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I’m so sorry that I allowed my son’s to dim. I wish I’d kept him home from the beginning, but am working hard to keep him thriving now. Good luck with your decision. Please message me if you ever need support.