What is asynchrony and what does it have to do with homeschooling?
Merriam-Webster defines asynchrony as follows:
the quality or state of being asynchronous : absence or lack of concurrence in time.
Asynchronous development refers to uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development. In average children, intellectual, physical, and emotional development progresses at about the same rate. They mature in synch. A typical 5-year-old child is at the same general level of development in all ways — physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
In children who are gifted and twice exceptional, the development of one area is often out of synch with another area. In fact, the higher a child’s IQ, the more likely they are to have significant asynchronous development. This means that a six year old might be able to do college level reading and ninth grade level math but have fine motor development delays that result in difficulty holding a pencil or tying shoes. For a great reference guide, see (affiliate) The Out of Synch Child.
The Colombus Group in 1991 stated*:
Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.
Many parents of gifted and twice exceptional students do not learn about their child’s exceptionalities until dealing with fallout of asynchronous development in the public school system. Other parents know something is different by the time their child is a toddler with quirky interests and a preference for opera over The Wiggles. However the decision is made, many parents of gifted children end up homeschooling because it’s a better fit for their uniquely developing child.
Homeschooling with asynchrony
The ability to customize homeschooling curricula to meet the needs of individual children is a common reason parents give for homeschooling. For children dealing with asynchronous development it holds even more true. How else can you ensure your child’s needs are met on all levels? This is also why many boxed curricula do not work for families with gifted and twice exceptional children.
Creating a curriculum for a child with varied interest and ability levels can be challenging. Interests change on a dime, and the level of acceleration in some subjects makes it quite expensive to keep up with purchasing new materials to move on to new levels. So how can you provide a challenging education with supports for weaknesses and acceleration for strengths?
- Unit Studies Asynchronous children will be inspired by a singular subject for a good length of time, so you can create a unit that incorporates all manner of subjects at their respective levels whether it’s preschool or high school. For example, we enjoyed a human body unit that lasted two months!
- Interest-Led Learning Allow your child to help pick subjects, books, curriculum, etc. When you let your child lead, they gain a sense of control over their education that can help them develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning.
- Use Specialized Programs If your child has dyslexia, there are outstanding reading programs like All About Learning based on the Orton-Gillingham Method. If your child is a whiz at math, Stanford’s RedBird Mathematics is an adaptive online program. If your child is a little linguist, look into Rosetta Stone.
What might asynchrony look like in your home?
If your four year old is a history fanatic, you may find yourself purchasing The Mystery of History instead of picture books while using a writing program like Fundanoodle to address motor skill development delays.
If your six year old is dyslexic but loves being read to and comprehends on a fifth grade level, you might get to read aloud classic adventure tales instead of Beatrix Potter. If your fifth grader loves chemistry but is on a high school honors level, you might need to find a co-op with access to a lab while providing occupational therapy for dysgraphia.
The point is that like any homeschool, yours will look different for each child based on their needs. No one solution works for everyone. We all just do our best to support our children and teach them to become lifelong lovers of learning.
If I have learned anything through parenting and homeschooling, it is this — flexibility is key. I can make all the plans I want, but the Lord directs my path, and the needs of my children are not set in stone. Keep it flexible and keep it fun. The rest will fall into place.
*Webb et al, 2007; The Columbus Group, 1991.