Math and Football

Figuring out your child is gifted and may not think like other kids doesn’t hit you like a thunderbolt. At least it didn’t for me. It was a gradual process with little clues along the way. Many of them ignored or just not recognized.

There was finding out she could read at age two. It was the daycare director who told us about that. I just thought she had memorized all those Dora the Explorer books but a trip to the library proved she could read much more than just Dora.

Same way with math. She knew all her numbers and could even count in Spanish (thanks, Dora!) well before age two. I was starting to suspect she might be bright but the gifted word wasn’t yet part of my vocabulary. Differentiation? Enrichment? Forget about it.

My focus was on potty-training, getting rid of the binky, and more potty-training. The important stuff.

My husband has always made it a point to share his love of sports with our daughter. To date that love has not proved contagious but he keeps trying.Math and Football

One of the ways they’ve bonded is watching football. Sadly, she generally insists on rooting for the opposing team because willfully cantankerous.

It was while watching a football game one evening, she was about age three, that we had one of those elusive thunderbolt moments.

I forget the exact score of the game and I don’t remember for sure who was playing. Probably the Detroit Lions and they were probably losing. Again.

She started getting agitated and saying there was a mistake with the score on the TV. Let’s say the score was 9-14. Detroit obviously the team with 9 on the board.

Nope, we assured her the score was correct. Then came the tears of frustration as she tried to tell us there had to be a mistake. Little voice raised, little feet stomping, cheeks red, tears flowing.

Finally she was able to get out there had to be a mistake because touchdowns with extra points equals 7 and 7 doesn’t go into 9. Obviously the NFL has made a scoring error.

Proud papa moment! Tears were dried and an explanation of field goal conversions ensued.

It was then I realized that most three-year olds, who were barely potty-trained, were probably not doing division in their head.

Not sure she remembers the finer points of the game but her love of numbers is still strong.

Encouraging a Love for Math

What do you do with that?

I had no idea. Not sure I have the right answer even now.

On trips to Barnes & Noble she gravitated to math workbooks. We started playing Monopoly and you can guess who the banker was. There wasn’t any formal math instruction or enrichment until kindergarten.

Mostly because I didn’t know what to do or where to look.

Once in kindergarten the differentiation and enrichment started in earnest. Thanks to a progressive and saintly teacher, she was moved into higher grades for both reading and math.

The first year of kindergarten was supplemented with EPGY math, the old version. With the guy with the creepy voice. Her words, not mine. And more workbooks.

Then I found online resources, apps, and books to keep her engaged. Murderous Maths is a recent favorite.

Math enrichment is now part of our everyday life. Most recently she’s taken Art of Problem Solving pre-algebra and competed in the AMC8 competition. She’s spent Saturdays in IMACS classes where she met one of her best friends. Sundays, ok, some Sundays, are at Math Circle at the local university.

Despite the fact that there seems to be a national outcry to educate more girls in STEM, math accommodation can be tricky to get at local schools. Luckily we have a school that’s willing to try to meet her where she’s at and for that I’m grateful.

What’s been your experience with kids who love math?

This post is part of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page March 2016 Blog Hop: March Mathness. Read more here.

Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop

Anxiety and Parenting a Gifted Child

We all want our kids to meet their potential. The problem is when you know your child has SO much potential the pressure is tremendous to be sure you’re doing the right thing. All parents worry and have anxiety over their kids but I’m not sure it’s over the same issues as parents of gifted kids. I don’t know, maybe it is. I’ve only got the one gifted daughter and she consumes almost all of my dedicated anxiety resources. Almost. Anxiety and Parenting a Gifted Child

When I set my anxiety about my daughter aside I find I start worrying about what’s happening to ALL children and how we should ALL care about them.

I worry about the special needs kids. Unidentified gifted kids. Bullied kids. Foster care kids. Kids in poverty. Kids growing up in abusive families. Kids without enough to eat. Kids without enough to read.

But most of my time is spent fixated on my own kid.

My bouts of anxiety tend to start out as worrying about just one thing and then like kudzu, the worry spreads to nearly every aspect of my life. I’ve described it as having at least two soundtracks playing in my head nearly all the time.

Anxiety About Her Education

Track 1
All she ever says is “school is fine” but is that true? What does ‘fine’ mean? Does that mean she really is challenged or she’s just enjoying reading Harry Potter for the 72nd time and she prefers it that way? Is that the way her teacher prefers it, too?

How can I blame her? This quarter they’re studying Island of the Blue Dolphins which she read three years ago. One whole quarter dedicated to one book? Is that normal? Even if it was a new book she doesn’t need to have weeks to read and complete a study of it. Next quarter is Gathering Blue. Read it two years ago. If the teacher is ok with her plowing the same ground twice should I be ok with Harry Potter 72 times?

Track 2
I should limit how much she reads and steer her away from books covered in the school lessons. What the heck am I saying?? I’m NOT going to limit her reading! What is this crazy person in my head talking about?!

Track 1
Should I remind the teacher (again) that to be differentiating curriculum? Is this a battle I should fight? Will this help win the war of providing academic challenge? It feels like the school is waging a war of attrition and they might be winning.

Good grief! She’s read Harry Potter 72 times! Need to talk with the librarian (again) about recommending new books for her. I need to do a better job making sure she has better (different and new to her) reading material for home and for when she’s done with work at school. Would it kill the child to throw a non-fiction book in her backpack?

Where are those Amazon gift cards from Christmas?

Track 2
That 6th grade boy at the Quiz Bowl last weekend rocked the literature questions! He knew Jane Austen better than I did! Is she ready for Pride & Prejudice? Will she like it after the excitement of Hunger Games? Shoot, why did I let her read that? What other classics should she be reading now? Have to figure out how to present Dickens as being just as captivating as Rick Riordan. I like Dickens better – why doesn’t she? Stop. It.

Must let her develop her own tastes. Even when they might be wrong. No, stop that!

Track 1
But wait, her old Kindle is broken (was broken, now destroyed – see photo at right) and I don’t want her to read at night on her iPad because of the whole backlit Kindle destroyedscreen keeps you awake issue. Why didn’t I get the new one set up over the weekend? Oh yeah, spelling bee and quiz bowl tournament. And that full day of recovery. I totally needed that. Do you think Facebook friends are tired of seeing her with her trophy? Too bad!

Track 2
Is she getting enough sleep? Is it time to make her bedtime later? What are other parents doing? Am I treating her like a baby because bedtime is officially 8:00? She does get to read until 8:30 – but not on the iPad (get Kindle setup already!) and she’s usually asleep before then. She’s growing up way to fast. Need to start plotting out family vacations from now until she graduates. We never should have grade skipped her – that’s one whole year gone! What if she needs an additional grade acceleration? No way. I can’t do it. Surely, we can figure something else out, right?

Track 1
Of course she could read actual books but she’s read everything on her bookshelf. Wee need to go the library AGAIN. I wish they had better hours – why do they close so early on the weekends? Seriously, 5:00 p.m. on Saturday? I guess we (I) need to work on our weekend excitement strategy because lounging at the library isn’t happening.

Ok, new Kindle finally charged and books downloaded including Lord of the Flies which she’s been asking about. Hope Piggy can compete with Katniss.

Track 2

Yes, yes, I did. That little burst of anxiety (abject fear) probably took years off my life. Punishment for reading that crap in the first place.

Track 1
We just need to get through the last quarter of this school year and then things will get better, right? Because we should know in a few weeks if she gets into the amazing gifted school. An hour away. Test scores (were the WISC and SB both necessary??) are way above where she needs to be and now we’re just waiting for the personal interview. Will she make it through that phase? Sure she will. Right?

Track 2
Why wouldn’t they want her in the program? She’s a well-adjusted kid, social, and gosh darn it, people like her! I’ve now started to channel Stuart Smalley and that can’t be good.

But what if she can’t stop talking about Minecraft? Worse, what if she starts talking about watching Minecraft videos on YouTube? Why can’t I be one of those parents who ban the Internet – or at least StampyCat videos? Must revisit parental controls. I kind of hate Minecraft even though I know the kids are learning to create and it’s like virtual Legos…blah, blah, blah. I hate hearing about it. All. The. Time. Especially when she wants to give me details just as she’s getting out of the car in the school drop-off line. I’m becoming the parent that slows things down because of Minecraft. I try to at least appear interested as she describes the latest Redstone thing and why she decided to kill the sheep. Why would anyone want to kill sheep?

What if she doesn’t talk at all? What if she fidgets the whole way though the interview? Like the chair dancing sequence during the spelling bee. Thank goodness no one had a video camera. Shoot, I probably should have taken a video or at least pictures with a real camera instead of phone. Why can’t I be like all those super organized Pinterest moms? Must remember to download photos from phone.

Track 1
What if she gets in and the amazing program really isn’t so amazing? What if she can’t keep up with the work? What if we’re too late and she doesn’t have a growth mindset? She’s been coasting academically and racking up meaningless straight A’s for much too long. What if she crumbles at actually being challenged?

I’m trying so hard not to praise her results and instead focus on her effort but, dang – it’s HARD.

Track 2
Where’s that book on grit? Probably deleted along with Fifty Shades of Gray. Paging Angela Duckworth!

Track 1
What if she doesn’t get in? Do we continue banging up against this school district’s unwillingness to meet her academic needs? Should we be satisfied with a weekly pullout program where she still doesn’t have true peers. Would the parochial school do a better job? Would they be more apt to subject accelerate? The principal says yes but I’ve been fooled before. What about online schools? Homeschooling? Unschooling?

Track 2
I am NOT brave enough or organized enough for homeschooling. Seriously, how the heck do those moms do it? And unschooling – that just terrifies me. It terrifies me in a way that I think I might just like it.

I just need to man up. Wait, maybe I should say put on my big-girl pants. Whoa, neither of those sounds very PC for a girl-mom. Sheesh, that whole being a good role model thing really escapes me. Parenting fail.

Track 1
Maybe we can keep her challenged with enrichment programs. We’ve done EPGY in the past and IMACS last fall. Shoot, why aren’t we doing that again this spring? Because of that awful hour each way commute on Saturday mornings. And if we did do that she couldn’t compete on the Quiz Bowl teach which she loves. I hate scheduling. I must schedule time to figure out Evernote, maybe that will get me on track.

The Duke Tip online classes look good. Can she do those on her iPad or the Chromebook or do I have to share my laptop? I don’t want to share.

Maybe find a chess club and she can polish her skills. Maybe I should learn to play chess. How embarrassing that I don’t know how to play chess. Parenting fail. Again. There are excellent summer camps around here, that will help.

Track 2
CRAP! I haven’t signed her up for any summer camps yet! Ironic because I’ve been thinking about this since January and even compiled a list of more than 500 camps for gifted kids. Did I just use ironic correctly? I really have zero idea…

The summer camps sound incredible. And last summer my kid went to a ‘summer camp’ at a gymnasium where she go to jump on trampolines, play in ball pits and walk to the public pool.

The guilt from that is nearly overpowering.

Track 1
But I can’t sign her up for camp yet because if she does get into that amazing (hopefully amazing) gifted program then we’ll have to move. If we move, that’s going to keep us busy and eat up a lot of resources. And then I have to break it to her that she’ll be starting a new school for the second year in a row.

And now the anxiety REALLY kicks in.

Track 2
Aaaargh – I’m late picking her up from school!

Please tell me I’m not the only one suffering silent bouts of anxiety!

This post is part of Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop: Anxiety.

To see all the blogs writing about Anxiety click the button below.

Anxiety - The Pain of Potential


There Is Crying in T-Ball

There is crying in T-ballI know, I know; not all gifted kids are bookworms. Many are out there kicking soccer balls on Saturday, shooting hoops in the driveway, or turning cartwheels until their head spins. When I knew I was going to have a daughter I thought my weekends for the next several years would be filled with dance recitals and volleyball games. Ha!

The kids in our family are into sports. A lot of sports. So when my daughter turned three we signed her up for t-ball which was the only sport I could find for kids her age.

I know most little girls do gymnastics (at least in my neck of the woods) but I have what some have called an irrational fear of her breaking her neck that sport. But I did cave in and she took gymnastics for three weeks and that’s how we found out she has irrational fear of being upside down. And that took care of that.


Her birthday was in March and t-ball practice started in April so she was a very young player. We’d been to plenty of her cousin’s games so she was excited about playing until she saw the team shirts were blue – the horror! Pink was a big part of our lives back then. We supplemented the uniform with a pair of pink Chuck Taylor’s, pink ribbon for the ponytail and a pink batting helmet. She was definitely a three year old girly girl.

The first (and only) practice was exactly what I imagined it would be. The field was on a hill in a small, rural community. No one around except the inexperienced team, a capable and patient coach, anxious parents, and a bunch of cows grazing nearby. Very Norman Rockwellesque.

The kids learned how to catch the ball, which way to run the bases, and how to hit. Expectations for a t-ball team of three-year olds are thankfully pretty low.

Safety First

All you really need to know about the first year of t-ball was at my daughter’s first at bat she looked totally prepared. Her hot-pink batting helmet (it was huge, think Rick Moranis in Space Balls and she wore it the entire game), her stance was strong and her game face was tough. Just as she was ready to swing she she dropped the bat and ran screaming and crying, “Mom, I need more sunscreen!” That’s my girl.

She went on to play t-ball for 3 seasons but that first one was a doozy. There were tears at each and every game that first year.  I can’t tell you what they were for but she never wanted to quit. I think tears are just part of the landscape at that age.

The second season there were no tears (except one time the game got rained out) and she made friends. That was a huge win. Those games were the absolute best 45 minutes of the week that summer.

By the third season you could definitely tell which kids had natural athleticism and which didn’t. It became evident that t-ball and all thoughts of future softball games were going the way of gymnastics.

Lessons Learned

  • You’re never too young to be a part of a team
  • Tears are normal for three-year old girls (Right, please tell me I’m right!)
  • Good t-ball coaches are precious and I’m grateful for them
  • My kid would much rather read about sports than play them
  • Pink really does go with everything

I will always be grateful that I was able to see her be a part of her first team.

What was your child’s first experience with sports like?