From Star Charts to College - Turning Negatives into Positives -

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I have often heard that sticker charts do not work with gifted kids.  But for us, they were a part of our routine.  And they became a big help in positive discipline with our young 2e daughter. Here's how we used them...

Star Charts

Early on, we started using star charts for our daughter's homeschooling.  She would earn stars or stickers for completing her homeschool activities and work.  

She loved earning stars, so much so that we often took trips to the Teacher's Book Store so she could choose her favorite stickers for her charts.  Earning stars or stickers for completing her work, became a positive part of our routine.  And actually helped us set up her daily routine.  Structure was needed for our daughter, who did best when she knew what was next.

Soon we added a few more things to her chart; other things such as bedtime routines, picking up her toys, doing chores, saying thank you's etc.  It depended upon the week.

As problem behaviors arose, I would task myself...."What behavior would be the opposite of the problem one?"  And then add that on and reinforce that opposing behavior.  And since she liked the star chart, it often worked.

For example, if my daughter's work got lost regularly, as it did, or got scattered around so we couldn't find it, I put the opposite of that on the star chart, ie keeping things somewhat organized.  That motivated our daughter to want to learn simple organizational methods.

She would win by organizing her homeschool stuff.  And she loved winning!  This helped the focus to be on the positive, organizing things, instead of the negative - "Did you loose that notebook again?"  (Disclosure - Was that ever said in our house...?  Well...yes.)

My psychology minor was actually helping me in some way!  We continuing with the star chart for some things for a number of years.  But of course it was not always a fit.  When there was something occurring that we needed to limit right away, we used time outs.

Time Outs and Feelings

We used time outs on many occasions.  Short time outs.  Sometimes it was just the thing to defuse the situation.

It gave me a time out too!

While it gave her time to calm, it also gave me a break from her intensities and my own reaction to her behavior, too.  I could rethink what happened and what I really wanted to say to her after the time out.

That discussion afterwards was the most important component for us.

I could support her and the feelings that were behind the behavior, then discuss the issue and alternatives that she could consider using the next time.

And since I focusing on discussing and supporting her feelings, that introduced the idea that we care about other people's feelings, too.  Because first, we cared about hers.

Dealing with Social Situations

We used community activities through the years, and feelings and such would come up after her classes or events, of course.

Making time after the class or activity, to talk about whatever happened was something we tried to build into her day.

That became a special time for us, hanging out on the couch... as she processed what had gone on.  We talk about her struggles re friendships, dealing with the group dynamics, etc.

Being a homeschooler made it easier for her to navigate social situations for two reasons.

First,there was much more time for her to think about what had happened, before and afterwards.  Secondly, there were less social situations to deal with, even though she had a lot of outside activities.  Still, it was a lot less pressure than she would have had in the daily social environment of a big classroom of kids.

During the teen years, she loved doing Youth and Government, where teens make up their own Mock Bills, debate them, and meet regularly throughout the year.

Then they all meet up in their state's capitals to do a Mock Youth Legislature for a week.  Having task oriented activities like these took the pressure off of the social interactions.

By the time she got to college, my teen was a leader on campus, starting a dance/hip hop club, and figuring out the social dynamics herself.

It was wonderful to watch her take on college.

But she is ready to graduate this spring, knows what kind of job she wants to look for, and will soon be finding her way, out there in the "real world".

And I can't wait to see what happens next.

Please click here to read all the other great posts on this topic, not just for gifted kiddos in our Gifted Homeschool Forum's blog hop this month.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschoolcollegegifted/2e and
wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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