One of the most difficult aspects of supporting a twice-exceptional child is their inconsistent performance when it comes to all sorts of tasks — everything from math to unloading the dishwasher.
A parent recently stated this to me, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I posted the question in an online forum for caregivers of twice-exceptional children, and the overwhelming consensus was, “TRUE!”
It’s natural that asynchronous development would lead to asynchronous performance; I intuitively knew this, but I’m not sure why I didn’t make this conscious connection sooner! With this simple yet profound statement, I think this mother was able to distill down the inner thoughts of parents of twice-exceptional children everywhere.
Asynchronous performance can stump an educator: how am I to assess for mastery if my student answered five, double-digit subtraction problems with ease yesterday and can’t show me what a subtraction sign looks like today? (This is not an exaggeration! This type of thing happens in my work all the time.)
Try taking a long view when determining if a twice-exceptional child is advancing.
At some point in time, I realized that the sooner I let go of my attachment to linear short term progress, the happier both my students and I were going to be. I look at the big picture when it comes to a student’s progress. Depending on the circumstances I may not give much weight to a bad day or even a bad week. I will observe progress over the last six weeks or months to determine if I’m on the right track with a kiddo.
It’s understandably difficult for parents when they see their kid having a bad day with me. I can tell they want to scream, “He’s gifted, I swear!”, and I want to say back back “Don’t worry, I believe you!” and “I know what I’m doing, I swear!”
I can tell that they are second guessing everything regarding the choices they’ve made for their child. They are asking themselves, “What’s wrong? What did I do wrong?”
Parents want to believe so badly that there is some magical person, curriculum or experience that will inspire easeful, linear progress in their child. I’ve never come into contact with anything or anyone like that. And if you do please share with me!
Imagine how it must feel to be that twice-exceptional child? What they did with ease yesterday, today seems like an insurmountable task. What’s real, the progress they made yesterday or the struggle they are having today? Both… and that must be explained to them in an effort to ward off anxiety and issues with poor self-image.
Moreover, this is why a project-based curriculum works so well with twice-exceptional children. There are many facets to a project, and if one aspect isn’t working so well, it can be shelved until a better time. The approach to the day is reframed to become more holistic and gentle to the learner.
What does progress look like in your class or homeschool? How do you handle difficult days? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll brainstorm some additional ways to help students and their families cope with asynchronous performance.