If you are in this blog space, your child(ren) are either gifted, have autism, or are twice exceptional in some manner. Welcome to the very confusing club! We are blessed with intense kids who do MORE in every area of their lives.
So, college. Our goal for our kids is that they follow their passions. Sometimes, their passions run away with them and begin to exceed high school levels earlier than is typical. If you are like us, your 13 year old exceeded high school levels two years ago and you just kind of threw up your hands and figured life out. When Leigh asked me how much longer we were going to push math with Rory when she was 10 and doing complex trig, I looked into our state's standards for high school and decided she was done. I handed her SAT/ACT prep books and sites and said "have fun"! This child hates math. I kept her in something each week so she wouldn't lose it while she explored literature and sciences. When she settled (for now) on wanting to be a nurse of some sort, I helped her find appropriate math courses and science books. She still reads insatiably. Thankfully, she is content right now with the college nursing textbooks we sourced from thriftbooks.com and online math and ALL the books. But she wants the hands on stuff too.
I feel good about her exploring this at home for relatively little money. She is only 13 and we are well aware she may change her mind. While she is in this mode, I want to support her. We know she isn't ready for traditional college at this point, and the online resources we have are rich. We don't feel pressure to adjust that just yet. However, if she continues this career desire, we will need to change our path in the next one or two years. Next year, if she remains interested, we will contact the local community colleges and nursing programs and explore our options further. We want her to be successful, ready, and happy. We don't want to push her where she isn't ready academically or mentally and emotionally. Though she is a mature person, she is young and has many life experiences yet to live. Throwing her in the deep end of living on campus with people three or more years older than herself isn't something we are excited about.
When deciding how to continue educating these brilliant people, we have to consider more than their minds. Their bodies and emotions are young. They aren't yet ready for the kind of peer pressure they will experience in college. They aren't prepared for trying to make friends with people who may resent their very presence. We have to balance our desire for them to follow their dreams against their mental and physical safety. For now, with Rory, our plan is for her to live at home and engage via virtual classes for at least the next couple of years. We want to give her brain and body time to catch up a little with the older students. While she very much wants to get her hands on some patients, she understands the laws preventing that. While she hates math, she understands the need for it in her career and is willing to continue to practice.
Will is now 11 and in a similar place. We are ensuring his math is up to par and continue working on writing. He has dysgraphia which makes that task more challenging. He isn't quite ready for all college level things like Rory is. He wants to be a paleontologist, so college will be something he needs to prepare for. With his autism, we have more challenges getting him ready. Academics will be no problem. The pressure of tests, papers, and classroom performances will be significant issues. The prep we do with him will be different. And likely more time consuming.
Mack might not go to college. He is much more engineering minded and trade school might be better for him. He is nine and into high school work in large part, but the decisions are well off for him. Kae is nearing five, so we are many years from figuring out her path.
The questions we ask depend on the child we are looking at. When will Rory be mature enough to handle the interpersonal relationships involved in a college experience? When will she be permitted into a nursing program? When will Will be able to cope with the pressures of college life? When will his interpersonal skills be up to par to handle the different kinds of people he will encounter without my help? Will we find a suitable collegiate match for him where we all feel confident in his success? Will Mack go to college? Will he choose trade school? When will we feel confident in his abilities to think before he acts?
Your questions may be quite different from ours, but college counselors can be a big help to answering them. Don't be afraid to reach out to your local counselors for help and guidance.
The web sources we are using vary depending on need, but they are: www.coursera.org, www.edx.org, www.thegreatcoursesplus.org, www.modernstates.org, and www.khanacademy.org. Each of these sites has a mobile app as well.