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Monday, April 30, 2012

Making School Fun: Little Victories (guest post)

Guest post by Shelle Perry (Lian's Mom)

I was really surprised to see a big deal being made by Connections Academy over Learning Coaches this week.  April 30 - May 4 is LC Appreciation Week and May 3 is LC appreciation Day. Way to go CA!

For those who don't know what a learning coach is, it is what it sounds like. The person who is responsible for seeing that the student does his lessons. In early grades it is a bit more time consuming and involved with daily lessons and with independent learners and higher grades it is more about just making sure everything is turned in. With Lian it is very hands on with every lesson.

When we realized that a traditional school was not a good fit for our son we felt trapped because while we believed that home school was a viable option, neither my husband nor I felt we were qualified to find, put together or teach a curriculum that would meet his particular needs and still teach him everything he would need to know to be successful in higher education and beyond. We were excited to find virtual school options. After exhaustive research we chose to go with Connections Academy. It provided all the hands on benefits of a home school environment and the support of a state approved curriculum, and (we would soon find out) an incredible team of teachers who were really willing to work with Lian and all his learning issues.

I will be the first to admit that it isn't at all easy. Despite what he writes here in his blog, school is never truly fun for Lian and it is rarely easy. Basic reading and writing are obstacles that at times seem insurmountable. It is a constant struggle to accomplish even the simplest goals on some days. I have thought about giving up on more than one occasion.

Then there are the days of small victories. Like when he reminds me that despite his frustrations with reading the material, his need to know everything he can possibly learn hasn't diminished in the slightest. Then there was the day that he tried to look up every word in his vocab book in the dictionary just because it was fun and the day he finally passed a grade level reading test with very few mistakes and the days I catch him actually writing little stories. I have learned to appreciate that small things aren't really all that small.  Last week his school asked him to give a reason why he appreciates his learning coach. I was blown away by his answer. 

"I appreciate my Learning Coach because I get to spend time with my mom." 

 Which small victory should I celebrate here? The use of a complete sentence? All the words spelled correctly? That he likes spending time with Mom even when that time is often spent in battle? Or, how about that his school gave me a chance to see that our daily journeys are really worth the time and effort spent?

I expect school will never be as fun and easy for Lian as it was for me but at least I know we have made the right choices for him and he is beginning to see that he can succeed. I know he doesn't hate me for making him read just one more page or write one more sentence.  That is victory enough for today.

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