Some of you may know that we have been on a bit of a journey with our oldest son Isaiah in recent months. He was having some emotional and social challenges at school (he is in Kindergarten) and we began to question if he would need some special education help. We made a decision with his teachers to pursue an evaluation through the school system, wondering if he might have Aspergers. The results of that evaluation indicate that he is not eligible for special education, as he does not fully display those characteristics. But it did help us understand more about the basis for his frustration and difficulties at school. Isaiah has an extraordinary ability to reason and process complex concepts. He is extremely intelligent, but his emotional maturity and dexterity are those of a typical child his age. This creates tremendous frustration for him. He is also a perfectionist, and so is frustrated by his limitations and inability to produce what he pictures in his head.
We are now on the journey of really trying to understand how he thinks and learns best, and figuring out how to challenge him and help him grow in a healthy way. This chart (at the bottom of the linked page) that describes the difference between a bright/high achiever child and a “gifted” child has been helpful to me, particularly since I was a classic high achiever as a kid. I can certainly have the tendency to think the compliance (for lack of a better word) displayed by the high achiever is better (which just displays the reality that the sin of pride follows closely behind a high achiever – I can speak from experience, as it has long been a key sin area in my life). But gifted children think differently and experience life differently than most of us do—just fitting in is not easy. I am learning the great benefits and great challenges that come from having a child on the other side of the chart, and I am thankful that God gave me a child that is going to teach me so much as we walk together in this journey. I have already learned so much from him.
We realized that the Montessori method of learning was not helpful for Isaiah at all. We respect it tremendously, but somehow that school environment caused Isaiah severe stress that resulted in the social and behavioral problems. So we pulled him out of the Montessori Charter school he was at and are home schooling him while we try to figure out what kind of school environment would be best for him. It is amazing how much more at peace he is now—I don’t know why we didn’t see it sooner.
So it is a journey indeed. I have no delusions that my child is “better” than any other child. The label “gifted” is a weird one, and I am not using it so people say “oh, good for you…” Rather, I am just sharing my life and my thoughts—the thought of it all produces more fear and uncertainty in me because I don’t want him to founder in life. Just like any mother wants for her child, I just want to help Isaiah flourish in the talents God has given him. He is a unique child, just as my other two are incredibly unique and special.
With each of our children, we are also continually seeking to implant the Gospel deep in their hearts, so they experience God’s love and place their identity in the Lord, and so they can live out God’s incredible selfless love that motivates us to put the interests of others above our own (Philippians 2:3-4). Doing so will bring deep and lasting joy and will bring glory to God–something selfish ambition can never do.