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Once I had a handle on the fact that Mad Natter was, in fact, different from other children his age (trust me, when you're the only person you know within 500 miles who has a child, it can be difficult to see that your child is a little odd), I needed to know what was different - and hopefully why. Skeeve gave me a big "duh" when I mentioned I thought he might be gifted - Mad Natter's favorite cousin, Miss M, is gifted, which is why it even hit my radar. I didn't realize that both Mad Natter's parents are gifted too, nor that at least one of my cousins is as well. Anyway, I needed something conclusive. So I went over to Deborah Ruf's website, and ran through the assessment there. All it does is ask when your child met certain milestones, and since I'm fairly obsessive with a ridiculous memory for sequences, it was easy for me. Mad Natter was only three at the time, so a lot of accuracy was sacrificed, but it gave me an answer. Even with the likelihood of this being a serious underestimation, Mad Natter is clearly gifted. So, what's a mama to do? FIND A BOOK! And so I did - the book that corresponds with the assessment I'd just done; 5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options
by Deborah Ruf.
Okay, for starters, I've been through this book in a very odd way. I didn't read it front to back. I went through it in the sections that I needed it. The entire first section is something of a primer on giftedness and the issues that go along with it, at least in terms of interpersonal relationships. The third section goes into schools and what the prizes and pitfalls are for various educational choices are, depending on how gifted a child is. The second section, however, is the one that I got the most use out of - and still do. The second section is full of case studies of gifted children, divided by Ruf's levels of giftedness, telling what they were like as infants, preschoolers, elementary, and middle schoolers. These have been invaluable, largely because it gives me a place to start from. Knowing that there are other children like Mad Natter out there gives me hope, even if he matches the descriptions for children at a higher level than the testing led me to believe (we'll be reassessing now that he's six [the test's minimum age for accuracy] to see what results are like now that he's of age).
The book has been enormously helpful for me - largely because it allows me to get an idea of the trajectory Mad Natter is on in a way that "Your Baby and Toddler" or "Your Child, Birth to Age 5!" never did. I'm able to look and see what's generally considered "normal" for gifted children at various ranges, what to expect next. Things mentioned include one enormously helpful thing of note - how once they learn to write, some of these kids quickly lose interest in writing, leaving their handwriting to cause issues later. Good thing to know.
Now, of course, comes the "but." I'm really good at the "but" part. Mad Natter is twice exceptional. Probably thrice if we start counting all the alphabet soup parts, but hey. This book is very much intended for parents of solely gifted children. It is not meant for parents of children who are capable of the tasks, but don't really demonstrate them because their exceptionalities are in the way - things like "put together a 60 piece puzzle at age three!" don't apply to Mad Natter, not because he's not capable of putting together a puzzle (he was doing logic puzzles via video game at a 7yo level at age 3), but because he didn't - and still doesn't! - have the attention span to sit and look at a 20 piece puzzle, much less a 60. Mad Natter, at six, has the attention span required to put together a 45 piece puzzle with extensive help. So, while the book has been extremely useful in some ways, there is still a lot to puzzle through, and many things that I end up saying "well, he can do this mentally, but..." and trying to sort out how to make things fit that way.
In the end, it's a very useful book, it's helped a good deal in ways I'd expected my Sears Family Library to do (it never did). It is not, however, the greatest fit for families with twice exceptional children. It is, however, significantly more worth it, even for families with extremely complicated children, than any standard "Your Child" book has ever been.
For more reviews from a gifted perspective, please visit Gifted Homeschoolers' Forum's Resource Review page!