We’re talking to Jess Farago, a provisional psychologist, and mum of a gifted child this week and today Part 2 of that conversation goes out.
In this episode Jess shares how the second half of her son’s first year of school went and all the tips and tricks she’s discovered along the way.
Memorable quote… “
“I like to do things with people and socialise and hang out with friends but I also found when we spent our holidays with more downtime than social time, it was so much better for him.
I saw a different child starting one term when spent the last week of holidays doing nothing.
We just hung out at home. Took the dog for a walk, hung out with family, and caught up with a couple of friends, but it was a really low-key break.
He went back so refreshed.” – Jess Farago
Jess Farago is the mum of a gifted son; a 5-year-old who has recently completed his first year of primary school.
In addition, Jess is a provisional psychologist who has a passion for neurodivergence and understanding the gifted and neurodiverse brain and behaviour.
Jess observed differences between her son and other children when her son was a baby, and it was drawn to her attention by professionals, that her son might be gifted and to monitor it. Therefore, the journey of extensive gifted research, reading, understanding and ongoing observation began.
Jess has found the path of being a mum to a gifted child filled with so much joy, however, it has not been easy and is exhausting.
Some of the most challenging parts for Jess over the last 5 years has been with the stigma attached to the word ‘gifted’. For years she felt isolated and that there was little to no support out there. But that didn’t stop Jess from ensuring her son received as much support as possible wherever he went and that she advocated for him. This is where Jess found navigating the mainstream school system a challenge.
Jess has good knowledge of the education system having worked in the school system and has been faced with some very positive experiences, however, there have been some big challenges in the mainstream school setting concerning her son.
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the I’ll. Give tickets podcast. We are back with part two of our conversation with Jess Farago. Now in part one, you may remember she was telling us about that journey of selecting the school for her son who is entering into their first year of schooling.
And we’ve got about halfway through the year in that episode. So in part two, we finished hearing about the rest of the year. How did it go? Was it still smooth sailing? Because we had a very good beginning. Or. Well, there’s some challenges. Hmm, that could be a spoiler. And then just shares with us some of the tips and tricks that she has learned over the year. Uh, about just kind of navigating that first year of school with her son. What worked, what didn’t.
What she’s going to continue to do into the future. So a really great episode full of lots of things. I think you can take away with you. If you’ve got a child still. At primary school, but probably even high school.
It’s been a wonderful series. We started off with Emily, who is a [00:01:00] mom of a gifted child, and they were just entering this first year of school this year. And then we had a chat to the delightful Stephanie Higgs. , gifted educator and differentiation coach, where we talked about some of those issues around those early years of schooling.
. And then we had this conversation with just a provisional psychologist who is at the end of that first year of school with her son. So it’s a really nice wraparound and we’ve got one more episode to go. Which is going to be lots of tips and tricks, a bit of a summary of all those great things that we’ve learned over the last few episodes. That we can all take away with us. I haven’t recorded it yet in all honesty. So there is still time to comment on social media, either Instagram or Facebook. I will be going all over the comments over the next few days. See if anyone’s got any further questions or further tips and tricks that, you know, maybe there’s some things that you have discovered over that first year of school that you would like to share. So [00:02:00] by all means,
Comment away, Facebook and Instagram, let us know. And I’ll be having a look at those over the next few days. And. Recording that final episode in this series next week, which I’m super excited about. Thank you so much to all of our guests who have been involved. It’s been a really great topic and it’s been really lovely to dig into it from these different perspectives.
If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, you can support us by just leaving a review sharing with friends. There’s a tip jar, and there’s even the opportunity to become a podcast patron, you can find all those links in the show notes. We’re on Facebook and Instagram. You can join us there, subscribe on the website, or even join our free Facebook group. Thank you so much. Let’s get on with this episode and see how this year ended. Talk to you soon.
Sophia Elliott: so you’ve had a very successful beginning, which is just, oh my God. So amazing. Sounds like the educator is really on board with working through this and the school. Mm-hmm. , what happened
Jess Farago: Well, yeah, he was, had a, he loved school, so happy.
So throughout the year, like every term was almost so individual. There was no smooth flow between terms. Mm-hmm. , so term one was this. You know, what do you call it? Like studious, well-behaved. I’m here to learn. I’m never gonna interrupt kind of child. I’m new, I guess, you know, you’re the good job. Teachers pet kind thing.
And then the second [00:04:00] term it was, oh, he’s getting comfortable. He’s starting to be a bit of a rat bag. Not in the classroom, but in the playground. So, because being younger, we started to think that, and I just had constant conversations with the teacher. This is the other thing I recommend if you’re able to hang around the prep area, which we were, and I didn’t hug her or anything, but she always came out and said hello to the parents.
Yeah. How day. You know? And if she said, oh look, we discuss it. Yeah. A lot of the times you go, can we have a quick chat in here? And I’m like, oh, what’s he done now? Yeah. Never did anything big, but being, I think it’s being younger because the older boys didn’t do this. He went through a phase of six weeks where once a week he did something really silly in the playground.
Like he showed his bottom, thought it was really funny. We had to have a chat and discuss whether he got the response he wanted. He said no. So he learned that that wasn’t gonna work, so he didn’t do it again. So he never repeated the same mistake, but there was a lot of life learning incidences
So there’s a lot of experimenting [00:05:00] socially.
Oh yeah. And, but yeah, that was term two then term three, he was a completely different kid. Yeah, he was, there was no experimenting in the playground anymore. He was leader of the pack and he was suddenly everyone wanted to be. , well not everyone, but he formed like a nice group of friends.
Yeah. But this is where it got challenging cuz amongst it he became best friends with this little boy and they got tunnel vision for each other. Uhhuh . And no one else existed in that room except for those two when they were, the moment he was playing with other friends and this little boy came running down the hill.
Bang, he was there. No other friend existed and he loves his other friends. Yeah. But we spent a whole term with this is where it got challenging cause the teacher and I had very different approaches. Mm-hmm the teacher’s going, he needs to learn to include everyone. And I’m going, he’s neurodivergent you shouldn’t be changing or I don’t think you should be changing how he, who he wants to play with, but I [00:06:00] think we can find a way in which he can articulate it in a nicer way to his friends.
Cuz he’s only five. He doesn’t know, he doesn’t mean to go No, I’m busy. Yeah. Cause he’s distracted by his friend. We need to teach him how that makes others feel. And so we eventually came to a certain point, but I battled this, trying to change the way he was socially. And I’m all for strategies and interventions to improve challenging behaviors.
Mm-hmm. and I I, but what was happening was, was this little kid, the two boys who are perfectly happy. Yeah. And. Others were wanting to change that and say, no, you go play with them. You have to include them. And I’ll remember this incident where one of the boys in their class who’s got some challenging behaviors, but my son really likes him.
They get along quite well. Wanted to play with my son and his best friend. They both, my, my son and his best friend both said, no, we’re playing our [00:07:00] game. So they’ve been practicing. So my son would turn around and go, no, we’re actually playing together, but maybe I can play with you later. This boy pulled him off the monkey bars.
He, uh, my son hit his chin on the ledge where you stand. But yeah, my son got in trouble because he wasn’t including this boy. Oh, that’s tricky. And so I started to get a little bit frustrated cuz I felt like I was at this roadblock where I was not going to be supported in how to approach the situation and anything.
I said to the teacher, I got fobbed off. Oh, but he’s gifted. He should know how to behave. And I’d be like, oh no, but he’s neurodiverse, he needs support. There should be a support in place, you know, and I didn’t wanna get in her bad books cuz she really was such a good teacher. But these little things along the way made me go, oh really?
Like, you know, and there’s, there’s ways we can approach this. Yeah. And so I was doing it at home and I’m [00:08:00] saying, so he came home one day and he said, mom, so and so was running away from. . And I was like, oh, that’s not very nice. How did that make you feel? He’s like, well, it made me really sad. And I said, so how did you deal with the situation?
I went and spoke to the two boys and I said, I really don’t like it. It makes me really sad. And one of ’em was his best friend. His best friend stopped, but we had a chat about it and I said, do you remember at the start of the year when you and your best friend were doing that to that boy? He goes, yes.
And I said, well, that’s exactly how it would’ve felt for him. And it’s never happened since. Mm-hmm. But the way that the school were approaching it was, you play with that kid. You Yeah. So my strategy at home, which is going against the teacher, was, okay, so if I’m gonna make up names, if Lisa and Jane come up to you and Yeah.
Boris Dunno why I pulled that name out. . And they say to you, while you and Boris are playing, can we play with you? And you are in the heart of a game because as you know, and I’ve heard you in some of your podcasts, the gifted child [00:09:00] tends to like to rule a roost in the game. And he would make up a game about animals.
And his best friend basically did what he said, . Yeah. He made the rules, but the best friend didn’t complain. Yeah. It wasn’t like a, a bossy situation. So this would happen. And I said to him, when these two kids come up and they wanna play with you, how about we approach it with something like not? No.
Thank you. Not right now. Yeah. But I’d love to play with you later. So he started this approach. It was only scripted, which I’m not a huge fan of, but it worked. And really it worked because I said to him, if the way you are with these particular friends all the time comes across as me, they’re not gonna wanna hang out with you.
Mm-hmm. as simple as that. And I said to the teacher, he’ll learn, he will learn when they stop hanging out with him. Where are we? Where at the end of prep. And he’s played with every single one of ’em over the holidays. Yeah. So if he really was that bad, they wouldn’t have come back. That’s how I see it.
Sophia Elliott: Yeah. [00:10:00] Yeah. That, that’s a, it’s a real, thank you for sharing that story. It’s a really interesting story and I’m, I’m, I’m listening and, and, and thinking about, uh, do you know from the, like you say, from that parent perspective you know, and, and with my parent hat on, I, I’m very cautious of situations, whereas adults, we are invalidating our kids’ ability to make choices.
Mm-hmm. about themselves, their friends, you know, it’s, it’s almost like a consent. Mm-hmm. thing for me. Uh, and this is just as a parent, I would be interested to you know, . I mean, I, I know you’re a provisional psych, but to get like, you know, a, a professional, you know, dissection of this. But as a parent, I’m kind of [00:11:00] like, because to me it’s like, when we say things like that as parents, what we are saying to them is, how you feel and what you wanna do and who you wanna play with is irrelevant.
If someone wants to play with you, you have to do that thing. Do you know? And, and I, and I try to empower my kids to feel like actually what they want is important and they don’t have to put other people first. It’s a healthy thing, right? Yeah. And so, and I think for me, it kind of boils down to that our own personal self-worth and consent mm-hmm.
and, and that kind of stuff, you know? And so, but, but, but like you said, and I’ve certainly had these conversations in the past, is kind of like, while we get to make these choices about who we spend our time with, it’s important to be kind to people
Jess Farago: that Yeah. And you know, yeah. I hope that’s how I told the story, that [00:12:00] that’s the kind Yeah.
Yeah. It is. Yeah. Totally. I, I’m, I mean, from a professional perspective, yeah. Yeah. A mum perspective. So I worked in a primary school last year for my yeah. Placement. And I’m all about empowering. Yeah. Their, their feelings, their emotions, what they need, what they want. But so I found it quite difficult to navigate because I was almost at a point where it was like, like, I’ve gotta do something that’s gonna work, because Yeah.
Otherwise it’s, he’s gonna be forced to do things he doesn’t wanna do. Yeah. So the way I approached it with the teacher was literally, I, I kind of hate doing this. It’s really against my values, but I kind of had to dumb myself down and be like, you know, I’ve sort of had a chat to him and told him that, you know, he’s gotta be kind to everyone and include everyone, but really I was saying to him, this is what we need to speak nicer.
I said, I, I said to him, darling, I know that it doesn’t come from a bad place. I know you, you’re not mean, [00:13:00] you don’t mean to do it like that. All that you see is your best friend and you don’t want anyone else. I totally get, I was like at school too, but you don’t like it when someone tells you to go away.
So we’ve gotta find a way in which we can approach that. So I went down that path. Yeah,
Sophia Elliott: totally. Yeah. And, and, and likewise as a parent, I’d be, do, would, and I feel like I have, sounded very familiar, you know, a, a very similar approach. And uh, I just had a thought, what was it? Uh, BEC and it kind of brings me back loosely, but I’m gonna roll with this. What I really liked about the Montessori philosophy in its essence is this respect for the child and respect for the child’s work and the, the child’s work is play. And so we’re especially, I mean, all kids, but you know, especially with that tendency for a gifted kid to hyperfocus and stuff, when they’re like in the middle of that game, with no doubt, very complex rules.
Oh yeah. You know, very complex game. And they’re in the middle of that game [00:14:00] being interrupted. Whe whether it’s a par parent saying, stop this, we’ve gotta go now. Or someone saying, I wanna play with you. It’s like, no, I can’t cope. I’ve gotta just keep doing the thing. And it’s sort of like, it’s catastrophic.
Yeah. That’s right there. There’s, in, at the heart of that, there’s this also I think, a, a sense of respecting where the child is at in that moment. Yeah. You know, anymore than if I was having a coffee with a friend and, and got kind of interrupted and pulled away, would I be sort of, you know, unhappy about that?
So similar kind of things. So, yeah. So you’ve obviously, you know, lots of pros about this. about your educator and the school, but obviously a few challenges around. And I heard you say that educators, like he’s gifted, he should know better. Oh, you know, that’s obviously a very unfortunate mindset. So tell us about the, the final term.
So you, you, it’s a very [00:15:00] much a shift. Each one, I think we’re up to third or fourth term
Jess Farago: now, and, but they all sort of keep foggy in my brain, but I remember yeah, totally was, look it, the, the biggest challenge for me, which was what I was gonna segue into, which was sort of in, in line with what you were literally just saying about empowering a child’s autonomy, needs, want, that sort of stuff.
As well as my biggest challenge I was faced with, which I left the school in tears and I will never forget it. And, and I don’t know whether all parents would feel this way, but for me it really, it broke my heart to hear the teachers say this. So, the big, so this was term four. Otto has always been a very affect.
Child. And I, I could be wrong here. I have read that gifted children tend to be very affectionate, highly sensitive, emotional, big emotions. We, we know the big emotions. Yeah. And maybe it’s to do with the way that we are. Cause at home we are very affectionate with each other cuz it’s just us two.
I, I don’t know. I’m not saying others aren’t, but that’s how I see it. And so he’s always hugging his friends and he, I [00:16:00] hear him going, you know, so and so, I love you. And he cries when he hasn’t seen one of his friends for a week and he’s going for a play date because I haven’t seen them for so, so he’s got these big feelings for these kids.
Big, big for his friends. And he told his teacher he loved her every day. And I remember being approached by his teacher in term four, and I’m quoting her on this and she said his affection towards his friends is unhealthy and I’m working on some strategies to change it. And I did not know what to say.
I had been that mum that had defended him, advocated for him, done the, if I wasn’t sure about something, I wouldn’t say much. I’d go home and I’d research and come back with something. Yeah. But this time I was like, oh, there’s three weeks left of term. I’m just gonna deal with it next year. With the new teacher.
I could not say anything. I didn’t want her to, to live on a bad note with her. Do I feel silly about doing that? Do I regret it? Yes. Because I feel like I let him. , [00:17:00] but I felt like it was going to be a losing battle with this one. And I remember watching all these other kids running around, hugging each other, and then he runs up to his friend and gave her a hug.
The friend was perfectly happy. She hugged him back. The teacher said, Hmm, Otto, so-and-so doesn’t like that. You need to get off her. And the girl, the friend goes, I’m fine. I love him. And that really upset me. And then what I experienced after that was so hard to watch. We went to a play friend’s house for a swim in their pool with two other friends.
And he was so excited to see them. And he said, I can’t wait to see them. They’re two of his best friends. And I’m, no, no, I’m not gonna hug them. I go, but you have them. And he goes, no, I’d rather not hug them cause I don’t wanna get in trouble. It’s easier for me to just not hug. And I was trying not to cry.
And I was like the poor little kid, like he’s changing himself just to keep the peace. This is crap. And I got really upset. And so I had a big chat. He wouldn’t even hug me that weekend. And we hugged all the time [00:18:00] and I had a big chat to him and I can’t remember what I said, but essentially I basically said to him, your affection, your love, your feelings, your emotions are all what make you you, they are the most beautiful qualities about you.
That what? That’s what makes your heart so amazing. I never want you to change. You should never change. Stay who you are cause you are, I can’t remember what the wording was. I always get in trouble and I didn’t know how to approach it. And I said, look, the way I see it, if the school are gonna constantly tell you to stop hugging, and you feel safer, then maybe just ask beforehand.
Cuz they’re all about consent. Mm-hmm ask if that’s beforehand. So then the teachers know that you’re doing the right thing by the school rules. But no, deep down inside that you can hug your best friend without getting in trouble, you know? And he was like, oh, I love you mom. And he gave me, gave me the biggest hug and he’s back to being the author that I know.
But today with the park bumped into a friend, he said, can I hug you? So he’s like doing the consent thing. So I was like, [00:19:00] go by the consent. But that really upset me when they said we’ve gotta change him. And again, sort of on that same path, we had an incident at Aftercare, and this is still part of the school, I was told I didn’t need to meet with anyone to chat.
And this is the advice I give parents as well. Yeah. If I could do it all again, insist if they say no to meet with the specialist teachers, even just for a short time, they don’t need the whole details. But what my teacher did was told all the specialist teachers his gifted, that was it. And so I get a phone call halfway through term three from the PE teacher saying he’s distracting everyone.
I had to call him aside, he couldn’t participate. And I said, well there could be many reasons for this. And I said, he could be overwhelmed, he could be panicking cuz he doesn’t like. The delivery of the instruction, as I mentioned earlier on. Yeah. And I’ve noticed that instead of crying, now when he doesn’t get the instruction, he distracts others.
So he gets pulled away so he doesn’t have to hear it. Mm-hmm. And I gave all these suggestions, I gave all these possibilities. I get an [00:20:00] email three weeks later to say he’s a different child. Thank you so much. I wish I knew this at the start of the year. So what I’ve done differently for next year is I’ve approached all the specialist teachers cause they changed for grade one.
And I said, look, I just wanna meet up with you guys for half an hour with the head of wellbeing. I’ve got a strategy list with possible possible challenges that we faced in prep that we can iron out this year. Just as a starter. Not saying to do that starting prep because I don’t think you’d know what half the challenges will be in prep.
You might have some stuff that’s being consistent, but if you can just meet with all the teachers, even if it’s in one meeting, because it would’ve saved a lot of time. He got in trouble in art and got, I was told he was gonna get his first attention and we got him out of it because he’d already got punished that day.
Oh, that makes me feel sad. Him and his best friend, they were writing letters to kids and they wrote something that was a bit cheeky. They thought they were being funny and a week later they were gonna give him detention during art. And my friend actually ended up emailing the teacher saying, no, I [00:21:00] don’t agree with that.
They’ve already been punished. And so we got out, they got outta that one. But these are just little things that happened along the way that could have been prevent. , had the teachers known what he was like and maybe, no, he probably would’ve written the n the naughty note anyway. But, you know, there are lots of things that I think could have been a bit easier if people had known, because every response I’ve had is what I mentioned earlier.
Oh, he’s gifted. He should have known better. Yeah. Yeah. No, and then I’m, I, I have my script. Yes, but he’s neurodiverse, he needs support. So I’m always responding with that. And they go, oh, Izzy. I said, okay, well if he was autistic and had support and funding, what would you do? Oh, we’d have this, this, this is in place.
So the, yeah, I think for me personally, the biggest challenge is that emotion one, uh, the, the affection one and the aftercare. So I was gonna say before the aftercare teacher at the start of the year, O uh, Otto liked to play by himself cuz he didn’t know anyone. And [00:22:00] for six, first six times he went, when I picked him up, I got told by the head of aftercare, what’s wrong with him?
I go, what do you mean? And she goes, he’s just sitting there playing. And I go, is he happy? She goes, yeah, he was until I came over And I said, what did you do? She goes, oh, I just kept bringing kids over saying Play with them. Play with them. Why won’t you play with kids? I said, no, why are you forcing him?
It’s not. And she goes, it’s not normal for him to be playing on his own. And I’m like, you are running an aftercare. And so that really bothered me as well. And he goes, you start crying and I go, because you’re making him do something he doesn’t wanna do. He’s feeling safe on his own.
Sophia Elliott: Yeah. He may have had a Big Dane.
He just needs a quiet time to regulate. Like you said, he doesn’t know anyone. He just Exactly. Needs to ease into it. And I don’t
Jess Farago: compassion. Yeah. And I don’t know whether any of these personal stories people will either resonate with or they’ll find useful, but they’re things that I think com you can be prepared [00:23:00] for with the ignorance of some people and there are some people who are just so open and supportive.
Yeah. But being open in communicating with them and being transparent for me is what I think worked. Because at the end of the day, I’m his mom and I don’t really care what they think about me, but I want him to be. Yeah. But I also don’t wanna get a bad rep cuz I don’t want him being punished for it either.
So it’s like, yeah. Yeah. My approach is usually quite like, I’m polite and I’m kind and I’m, you know, I approach it in an appropriate way, but I will constantly pull the gifted line because until they get it, what else can I do? Yeah,
Sophia Elliott: absolutely. And look, I really feel for you with the whole hugging thing, and it’s, I’ve certainly been in that situation. It’s like, you know, [00:24:00] sitting it out versus taking action and it’s like, we’ve just gotta get through this. And, and by the end of the year, like term four is so hard. Like, my kids are always knackered by the end of term four, especially first year of school, because I’m not sure about your school. But, uh, we were lucky my kids school, during that first term, the kids were allowed to have an afternoon off, you know, just to help with that five days a week thing and things like that.
But it’s just massive and yeah, just, I, I just think boys should never be discouraged from hugging. Like, it just really, like you said, it’s really concerning to think that a, a little boy would be discouraged from showing healthy affection. I mean, sure, let’s have those conversations about consent and asking, like, that’s just, you know, [00:25:00] good, uh, you know, a good thing to learn and start practicing at whatever age, but to actually discourage them from doing it at all is.
Just not cool. Like, and we, and we know better now. We know that now we need help. Like we, so I’m just kinda like, oh my God, we know better
Jess Farago: than that. We know so much better than that. And what I found really handy though, is all the challenges I’ve been faced with this year, I’ve approached, well, I didn’t approach the grade one teacher came up to me the last day and said Yes.
And so she already has been passed, had information received from the prep teacher. And she said, let me go over it. Same thing. But before school starts, so she’s starting with me earlier. Yeah. And I basically just went straight in and said, look, there are some things that happened this year that I would like to not happen in grade one.
So we’ve got strategies that can work for that. Let’s work on that this year. I know [00:26:00] that we’re probably gonna be faced with new challenges this year, and this our process throughout the whole entire schooling every year. This is what happened this year. This is how we can approach it next year. And that’s, I guess, I, I’m a yeah.
Organized, structured person. So I’ve structured that in my brain as a way Yeah. In which I can predict a pattern happening, which is useful for me. I’m prepared for change, but mm-hmm. , yeah, it’s been like those stories are pretty big. It’s also been a wonderful year. Yeah. And he’s beautiful friends, and he’s been supported in many ways.
Oh, and if your child, I’m assuming there’s Walter parents out there being gifted will be on every school has different names for it. But extended learning program, um mm-hmm. Independent Learning program, whatever they call it, I, naive me, didn’t know that if they’re on one, you’re meant to be having a meeting every single term or every or twice a term with the wellbeing coordinator and the teacher to discuss whether those goals are being met, where they are with at it.
I didn’t get [00:27:00] any of that. And last week I saw his end of semester two and where he was at for next year. I had no idea. Yeah. So that’s my I was gonna say that’s my, my my fault. It’s not. They should, that was their job. But now I know. Make sure that you have your consistent meetings. Yeah. And yeah, just as hard as it is, and I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, my heart raced every single time I used The, G, Word.
Yeah. That it, it has to be done because Yeah. Yeah. They are. And that’s the reality of it. And it’s not gonna change. Yeah. And assessments are a wonder like they, without the report, I would not have got what I got. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it’s highly recommended by, excuse me, my record voice cuz of the space I’m working in, it’s a neurodiverse affirming clinic.
A lot of the clinicians are ed and dev psychs or educational and developmental psychologists. Mm-hmm. for those that don’t know they predominantly work in conjunction with or as a multidisciplinary team with OTs and speeches [00:28:00] and schools to support your neurodivergent children and deficits, difficulties, behavioral, emotional, all that stuff.
And so the advice that I’ve been given by the many that I have met and my sons one, get a report before they start school. However, you can’t get two within two years. So if they’ve already had one, you have to wait. But that report is brilliant. But if the school just take it on like it’s just another bit of paper, then that’s another story.
Sophia Elliott: absolutely. And it comes back to having those open, open educators who are up for the, the, the journey to go on, on that journey with you.
[00:29:00] Well what a massive year. And like you say, we obviously have just dissected a few of the challenges there, but all in all a wonderful year. He’s made some lovely friends.
It sounds like the school have tried to live up to expectations as best they can. Some ups and downs there, but you know, have certainly tried to meet his needs academic. That be alright?
Jess Farago: Uh, yes. There are many, many things that he does that is not even recognized at school. But that’s probably a whole nother conversation.
But with the masking thing, like that’s, oh, that’s the other thing I started to notice towards the second half of the year, he’s n used to dumb himself down in kinder. So we worked really hard during kinder to bring that back up where he Yeah, confident enough. So he is [00:30:00] confident now to just not, uh, to, to, to be free of who he is, to be open about who he’s, but there are things like he is his drawings and his coloring in, I, it’s better than what I can do, you know, like it’s, but you know, the report in art said that he was just below his peers in particular areas.
And look, this is just my own headspace and my own view, but if this helps any other parent out there, I don’t, I dunno how everyone’s gonna take this, but I took me a lot of my own work with myself to do this. A lot of the time I have to read the report and just take it with a grain of salt because I know that that’s not what he’s like.
And if I go, okay, you’re an amazing drawer, but is it impacting at school? No. Is me talking to the teacher and saying, Hey, this is what he can do. Is that gonna change anything? No. Cuz he is not doing it at school. So for me, it. , the areas that he’s obsessed with and that he’s just passionate about are being [00:31:00] nurtured.
Mm-hmm. , the other stuff he’s doing at home, whatever, like Yeah. You know? So, and I,
Sophia Elliott: yeah. And look, I think that comes down to, as a parent, picking your battles. Yeah, exactly. Do you know, and Totally. You know, and it’s like you said, the three weeks of term left, do we take on the hugging battle, the, the report and the, ah, it’s like, what?
And like you say, what are the priorities? Are they being met? What are the, what are the battles we’re gonna pick? Well, cause I absolutely, you don’t have the energy to take it all on, let alone, like you say, what is it gonna achieve
Jess Farago: in the long run? Yeah. Yeah. Not at all. And the way I look at it, you know, Otto’s two years ahead in reading and writing.
Yeah. And he writes and reads every day. And he has all through prep, he started obviously very young, but it was in spurts now it’s every single day. And he has taught himself because he loves it and he’s photographic memory, teaches him the spelling of the words. Like, he’s got this system and I don’t even get it.
But I know that it’s not only his way of [00:32:00] regulating, it’s what makes him happy. Mm-hmm. . And so that’s where his independent learning program w what it’s for. And I believe that that is what makes him the happiest. Mm-hmm. . But if he didn’t receive the support in that area, that’s where he would really dislike.
Yeah. So if he’s stuck sitting there doing writing, that cat sat on the mat and he’s writing about car office and the evolution of the Triassic period, that would traumatize him. Yeah, totally. So everything else, he doesn’t care about what he’s learning, but with that he does. Yeah. And that’s where he plays up.
So that, and, and that’s where it’s worked.
Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. And I think as parents, we also need to kind of be grounded and realistic and know there is no perfect school. Doesn’t matter what school you’re at, they’ve all got pros and cons. There will never be, you know, that nothing could ever possibly be perfect for everyone.
And so it’s [00:33:00] kind of like, well what are my priorities? Is it meeting those priorities? Mm-hmm. , and, and kind of taking a bit of the good with the bad, so to speak. Yeah. Uh, yeah, the perfect school is just a myth. .
Jess Farago: Yeah. Yeah. And if I can just throw something in there, you mentioned it earlier about you know, they come home, they’re exhausted, that sort of stuff.
One thing that was given advice that was given to me by a friend of mine who’s got older kids that had already been through school, but she had a preppy starting with Matt, with mine, and she just kept saying to me, just remember that they’ve been a school all day, cuz her son’s neurodiverse, they’ll be exhausted when they come home.
So from my own experience, if this helps anyone, , the advice I was given was no extracurricular activities. In term one, I start swimming. Cause I think it’s a no-brainer. They need to do swimming, but that’s just me personally. Yeah. He did
Sophia Elliott: nothing else. Swimming’s also good for regulation. I was about say that is also good.
Jess Farago: Yeah. So yeah, a hundred percent. So what I noticed with Otto was [00:34:00] the second week of each end of term. Mm-hmm. second last week of the end of term, we started to get the big emotions daily, naked. Yep. Normally, you know, when he’s overwhelmed or I’ve done too much of him. Yep. Every day the teacher would say, oh, he’s been, been emotional all day.
So that was either he’s emotional all day because he’s exhausted or because he’s and this happened for two weeks and so my, it’s not even advice. I’m just letting parents know, be prepared for it. And the other thing that I found brilliant, which is advice that my mother dearest gave me, which I absolutely love, they’re gonna be stuffed, like you said, when they get in the car, they’re being listening all day.
I let auto navigate. I don’t say is your day, I just say, hi darling, I miss you. So good to see you. Mm-hmm. and then, you know, we just sort of. He gets out his writing book cuz that’s how he likes [00:35:00] to regulate. And then when it’s his time, he’ll go, do you know what we did today? Or it might even be the next morning.
So, or maybe I do say, how was your day? Cause I like to find out how his day was, but I don’t ask questions. What did you do? Who did you play with? And the other advice I was given by a psych was don’t ask who they played with because they may not want to have played with anyone. And it puts this expectation that they have to play with children.
So I usually say when we’re, when we’re talking and he’s navigated it or instigated it, I will then say, what did you do at lunch? What game? Yeah. And then he goes, well I played with so and so and blah, blah blah. Yeah. You know, so and I trial and error, but I found it really worked. A lot of kids I do know, come home and act out.
Might have tantrums, block, whatever it is. So be prepared for big, big, big emotions. Mm-hmm. , I’m not trying to boast, but I was lucky I didn’t get that. He was slow and bright, but I wouldn’t see him for two hours . So yeah. So I missed him. So they may, you know, they’re all different. But yeah, definitely being prepared for [00:36:00] big emotions, exhaustion, and maybe not wanting to do what they usually do at home.
Cause they’ve done it all at
Sophia Elliott: school. Totally. And really great advice there. And I, we certainly experience that as well. Uh, like I said before, that first term of that first year of school, if your school offers a half day or an early finish and you can take, you can take that up. You know, work allows you to make the most of that Definitely considerate because it, it’s a big shift going to, it’s like going to full-time work from part-time work.
Do you know? Yeah. It’s exhausting. It takes a good term or more to settle in, to build up that resilience to get through the week. They’ll definitely be knackered. Great advice not to do extracurricular activities in term one. . And like you say, by the time the kids get to the end of term, they’re exhausted.
I used to see a lot of term four fatigue where they were just, the whole term was exhausting. But [00:37:00] actually the last couple of years I now see term that building from term three. Wow. They just get really tired. And for those kids who are doing like OT or speech or psych or whatever it is on top of school or extracurricular, we actually will have whole terms off appointments.
Just to have a bit of a break. And when I pick my kids up, I have
Jess Farago: snacks. Yes. I do that too. Always have food hungry. Yep.
Sophia Elliott: Absolutely. And crunchy or chewy is a really good regulating food, so I’ll often have something crunchy or chewy. So they get in the car, they have some food, like you say.
Jess Farago: I found routine help too.
Yeah. So we had a scheduled day. Yes. That didn’t have anything on after school where he would know. We got every Tuesday we were at the library, so he Nice. I picked him up. Those library books were there cause he loves the library relaxes. Yeah. So he would know and [00:38:00] really, really helpful. I also found hanging around after school really helpful as well.
Cause he got run around his, his friends and really be.
Sophia Elliott: And that’s a good opportunity for them to decompress after school. Yeah. You know, get the sillies out, so to speak. Uh, absolutely. I probably linger longer than the school would like with my kids, I can have a bit of a run. And it also means you can chat to the parents or the teacher,
Jess Farago: Some wonderful friends here.
Sophia Elliott: absolutely. And we also have a whole range of fidget things in the car. And even cuz I, I, you know, I’ve got three kids and we offer carpool so the car can be full of kids and I’ll have some, uh, ear protectors. I’ve, I’ve always got a few pairs in the car. So for any child who’s just like, I don’t wanna listen to everyone else, can put them on, try and dull the noise a little bit.
Um mm-hmm. if needed. Uh, yeah. So various tips there, which are great and obviously [00:39:00] do what works for your family, but definitely lower those expectations. Oh yes. In the first year
Jess Farago: of school, 100%. I went in with this expectation of I have a child that can read and write. He’ll be starting off on grade one stuff.
not the case. , he has to meet all the, uh, basic criteria and assess he get to where he needed to be. So I was faced with the kid coming home, going, the cat sat on the mat, he went to the beach, he did this, blah, blah, blah. What’s it about? I don’t know. And the teacher did not get him to the next level because he had to decode it.
So I was. . So I had to lower my expectations. So that’s another really good thing that you pointed out. Mm-hmm. . So I’ve been telling one of my other friends who’s got a neurotypical child starting prep this year. I was like, don’t put too much pressure on yourself with the reader. Yeah. Because the teacher will be giving a particular reader, even if it’s so easy for her, it’ll be for a reason and they like to build the confidence up as opposed to giving them something so hard that they have a meltdown.
And, cause I remember she, Otto’s teacher gave him, [00:40:00] she was almost trying to prove a point. I opened it and went, oh, she’s got me this time, hasn’t she? And it was this full on reader that it was way, way, way beyond what he’d been reading. Like he reads different stuff at home, but this was really fine print, you know, it’s changing.
He was going reading it, the words emerging, and he just had a meltdown. Like he burst into tears. And I was like, if they’re trying to prove a point, you win. So what she was trying to show me, I’m assuming is build it up, don’t go up. And then, yeah. Burst confidence. So I’m with her on that one. As frustrating as it is, making a kid do a reader that’s so mundane and boring for them, there’ll be a reason behind it.
Yeah. Yeah. So as much as the teachers can be frustrating when they don’t really get it, there’s also reason behind a lot of it. Yeah. And ask lots of questions. If you’re unsure, find out why the teacher is doing that with your child. And if you don’t agree with it, tell ’em why.
Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. And open communication.
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And it’s like we are, we often, I don’t know, sometimes I feel like we give [00:41:00] teachers a hard time on this podcast and to Absolutely not intended at all. Oh. They do an amazing job. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience and a job. You know, it’s just a challenging space with gifted kids for them and us, you know?
And I just wanna acknowledge, like you said, they have a, a wealth of knowledge that, you know, there’s gonna be all sorts of reasons behind what they do. Uh, and sometimes it can really help as a parent just to understand where they’re coming from, uh, and to get that. So yeah, talking, talking it through, trying to ask those questions like you say and be curious.
Jess Farago: Sorry. Sorry. I was just gonna say one last thing. I also found Yeah. Please. Reminding myself all the time, cuz obviously, well I do, when you dealing with your own child in your mind, that’s the only person you’re thinking about. Yeah. But also I found a helpful to remind myself that we are, I’m, that the teacher is dealing with in, in my son’s class, 18 other kids.
Yeah. And I know that there was at least four or five in that class that were [00:42:00] also neuro divergent. Mm-hmm. . So it’s not just our kid that they’re dealing with. So I had to keep reminding myself of that too, because like you said, they got a wealth of knowledge. And I am, I admire teachers. I don’t know how they do it.
But yes, that’s where the open communication comes in.
Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. But no doubt, first year of school, a massive year. Congratulations on both of you getting to the end of it, and coming back for more in the, in, you know, back for year two or the, the second year of schooling. And you know, one thing that my husband and I do at the beginning of each year is we’ll actually have a bit of a sit down and talk about each of our kids and we’ll, we’ll kind of pick one or two things as a priority for the year, right?
We’re gonna work on this this year, uh, as a way of not getting overwhelmed by, you know, all of, you know, different areas that will, you know, might need some work, but also it [00:43:00] means you’re not focusing on too many, like, deficit areas. And it’s also like, what are the strength areas we’re gonna focus on?
Let’s support them in this way and that way. And like you said earlier, you know, you’ve got a couple of things this year you’re going back with. And it’s good to have a little think about that at the beginning of the year. And, and those goals can be quite modest, you know, for one of our kids this year, it’s as simple as we wanna.
encourage them to learn a couple of things where they’re going to have to try and they’re going to have to practice, you know? And sometimes it’s as simple as that, but that is actually a big thing. Uh, and that’s the goal for the year. And quite frankly, that is enough, you know? And so, and, and it, because it is as much as we are, we’re in the here and now, it’s also about the long game.
We don’t have to feel like we’ve got to fix everything that needs fixing overnight and we can just enjoy our kids, you know, and be in the moment and have fun [00:44:00] and enjoy that journey. The
Jess Farago: journey. Yeah, for sure. And the other thing that I thought of just then as we’re talking about them getting tired before at the end of term is I found over the holidays, like I like to do things with people and socialize and hang out with friends.
But I also found when we spent our holidays with more downtime than social time was so much better for ’em. Cuz they need, oh my God. Yep. And I saw a different child starting one term when we, I think spent the last week of holidays doing not. Yes. We just did that at home. Took the dog for a walk, hung out with family, caught up with a couple of friends, but it was a really lowkey break.
Yep. He went back so refreshed compared to filling our cup every single day. Cuz sometimes you feel like you have to fill that kid’s cup. Mm-hmm. with a brain like that. Yep. But I’m seeing these holidays a very overwhelmed child from all the things that we’re balancing. So I’m [00:45:00] starting my new job, you know, it’s just so I highly encourage even I got into a routine of day on, day off, day on, day off.
Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm over the holidays so they weren’t too overworked cuz school is huff
Sophia Elliott: gig. I hardly endorse that. The kids get knackered too. Like they really do need holidays as rest time. They do. And, and we’re the same. We, and you know, back in the day I used to put them in, they’d do a bit of a vacation care thing and they’d do this and look, sometimes that’s still nice, but I err on the side of what can we do that’s relaxing.
Mm-hmm. sometimes you actually just want a few days mooching at home. Mm-hmm. reading, playing a video game, watching some movies. Just total mooch. Mm-hmm. sometimes, we’ll it’ll be like, right, we need to get outta the house. Let’s do something in nature, which again is regulating. And then sometimes you do want a big day out and a, a [00:46:00] vacation care activity or whatever it might be.
But, uh, but yeah, more and more we do a very balanced holiday with lots of mooching because like you say, the kids need that rest time as well. Absolutely. Yep.
Jess Farago: Definitely. Yeah,
Sophia Elliott: totally. So huge lessons there. Huge journey for you. Thank you so much for sharing all of that with us, . I’m, I hope, and I’m sure that anyone who is embarking, uh, on that first year journey or is in that kind of kinder phase, uh, will take a lot from this conversation.
And, uh, and even like, you know, towards the end there talking about tips for holidays and, and things like that, you, you kind of forget when you’re a few years in, uh, you know, all the tricks that, the journey you’ve been on and the tricks that you’ve learned about stuff like that. So thank you very much for taking us, uh, down that road as well.
And it’s okay. Yeah, it’s been just an absolute delight to [00:47:00] spend time with you and to hear about everything you’ve, you guys have been up to and through.
Jess Farago: Thanks. I really appreciate being on this. Like, I’ve, I’m very passionate about it, not just cuz he’s my son, but just in general. Like when I go and start my job, I’m.
You know, one of my goals is to really get down into this giftedness and twice a multi exceptionality, cuz I’m just like, I had an epiphany last year, I went, why aren’t I looking at doing good job in this? Like, Yes. Aren’t you? I’ve got, I’ve got the knowledge. Yeah. And you know, like, and just like I said earlier, everything I have said is my own personal experience.
And I, and I hope that people can gain some stuff from it. But there might be some things I’ve said where someone goes, you know, how could you say that? It, it’s literally nothing is targeted at anyone. Nothing is to hurt or upset or offend anyone. It’s just purely my own personal experience and what worked for me, what didn’t work for me.
And my recommendations are based [00:48:00] around a very, you know, gifted child that needs so much nurturing but also needs so much downtime. Yeah. And yeah, so I hope that I have given some people some good insight into what they may have
Sophia Elliott: ahead of. Yeah, no, absolutely. Because, uh, and I put a lot of value. I mean, , I started this, , just as a parent sharing experiences and, and , we always, uh, encourage people if they’re having particular challenges to find those AR experts and therapists to work through one-on-one.
But this is a safe space where we can just share our stories, share what we’ve learned. People can take from that what they will. Uh, and, and I, I think what I feel is a lot of people do see themselves in those stories of other people that we share here and do connect. And it can be quite a relief to hear that they’re not alone [00:49:00] mm-hmm.
And, and take, , what works and leave, leave, what doesn’t. And that’s, , obviously the intended thing. And so No, totally cause absolute joy to have you. And please by all means, we need more, , psychologists and assessors who get gifted and bring that lived experience. So if I encourage you to go in that direction, please do.
I’ll be able to refer everyone to Jess in future . It’d be very helpful. We need more people working in the area, especially with that kind of personal lived perspective. So thank you so much for being with us today. You’re welcome. Yeah. You’re so welcome. And I will share in the show notes. Of course.
How people can get in touch professionally , as your professional self, uh, as well. And yeah, really look forward to catching up again and uh, maybe seeing where you’re at after the second year of schooling . See what your journey’s
Jess Farago: been like. Yeah, when catch up. I know. I’m really curious how it goes.
Cuz the teacher last year was very warm and this teacher seems very robust and I’m like hmm, could this [00:50:00] not work for him? I’m a bit nervous cuz he likes that real warm. This firmness could be really good for him, but I don’t know. We’ll find out. I’ll let you know next year, . Yeah,
Sophia Elliott: absolutely. Let us know next year.
Thanks so much for your time this evening. It’s wonderful. Thank you so much Sophia. Thank you.