Outside the box kids can have a hard time finding social groups that are a good fit: it doesn’t matter if they are homeschooled or not. But when these quirky kids find the place they fit in, it can be magic. That’s why I’m excited that Colleen Kessler has opened the Learner’s Lab. It’s an online place for gifted and twice exceptional kids and their parents and learn and connect. She was a gifted specialist in the public schools for years, and is a parent to 4 gifted kids herself. This allows her to bring a wealth of authentic expertise to help other families thrive.
I met Colleen at a Homeschool convention 4 years ago. I didn’t even know I needed to hear her until I followed a friend into the session. She was telling part of my story and I felt understood. Since then, I have listened to her many times and our homeschool and our family are both better for it. She has taught me to embrace each member of our family and their quirks unapologetically. We are proud of these differences which we chatted about on Episode 46 of her Raising Lifelong Learners podcast. The Learner’s Lab includes monthly parent Masterclasses on the monthly theme as well as family activities and a Live lab for the students.
Each month the Learners Lab has a theme. So far, we have addressed themes on Worry, Resiliency, and Mindset. Each of these themes are based on some of the challenges commonly faced by gifted and twice exceptional kids. I have learned much about these topics myself in recent years from Colleen, and now she is giving me the tools to introduce them to my kids. The videos and activities provided guide our family conversations to include these topics and be aware of how we can support the needs of each other.
During our theme of Worry, one of the Activity suggestions was to help each child find a Calm Down space. I heard this idea before, but now it was part of our checklist and a video to introduce it to the kids. We had family discussions about rearranging rooms and where each child feels the most safe. Two of my kids share a room, so we worked to find a space outside of their room they could use. We set up a child size tent in the playroom for one of them to have for their own.
What’s Included in the Learner’s Lab
The Learners Lab has 4 parts each month. One of them is the monthly EQ challenge: the Worry activity I just mentioned was part of this challenge. EQ is emotional intelligence, and these activities teach coping skills and awareness. Second is the Creative Thinking Lab, which is a live class taught by Colleen directly to the students. The goal is to stretch their thinking and includes follow activities to do as a family. A third component is the Idea sharing and Teen meet ups. Helping kids find the place they fit in is important. Using FlipGrid the students can share the different assignments. They can also share other projects they are working on in the safe and moderated environment. For teens there is a monthly zoom chat for them to have more face to face interactions with discussions. The fourth component is exclusive for Plus Level members. A Parent Masterclass related to the monthly theme is held each month. The Masterclass can also be purchased individually as well with or without a membership.
How we are using the Learner’s Lab
It is really amazing exactly how much is included in the Learner’s Lab. Right now we are including the EQ challenge 2-3 days a week in our morning time schedule. We block out the day for the Creative Lab and I get an hour break while they are “in class” Parents are welcome to sit in on the Lab as well. When it makes sense, we are sharing our projects on the Flipgrids and my oldest is checking back to see what others share. My 10y & 8y aren’t as interested in the social side of the projects yet.
The assignments are adjustable for all my ages and spark other discussions and activities. Learning about Resiliency as a family was helpful when one of the kids had an activity change at the last minute, and we had to encourage them to work through the challenges and bounce back. The were able to, in part, because we had learned we could all do it from the EQ challenge activities we had done as a family.
Join me in the Lab!
I don’t know of anywhere else on the web teaching these skills. Colleen make it easy to follow and hands on. My kids get excited the days they see EQ on the schedule and our family is better for it as we learn these emotional tools together. Won’t you join me?