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Follow Lian on his ongoing adventures as a student at Connections Academy
@ Lian's Blog  and Making School Fun 2011/2012 



Making School Fun: Little Victories  4-30-2012

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.





This is not what I signed up for! 8*31*2011


My son has a myriad of social and sensory issues that make life difficult for him.

Of all of them, I hate dyslexia the most. I watched my mother's heart break when she was told that at the age eight her son couldn't read. I watched as she dragged out my kindergarten homework, lovingly saved through the years, and used it to write a series of phonically based stories. I watched as she did what teachers over four grades had failed to do, teach my brother how to decipher the alphabet soup he saw and learn to read.  I don't blame the teachers for failing, from personal experience, I know it's difficult to teach around dyslexia. I blame them for advancing him to the next grade when it was obvious he wasn't ready.  I wasn't prepared when my son's school did the same to him in kindergarten. 

Taking a page out of Mom's book I took my son's education into my own hands and found him a school that would help him work through his issues. We enrolled him into a, thankfully free (though we would have paid millions), national online charter school, Connections Academy. There we found teachers with great advice. A curriculum not too different from the one he used in public school and motivation in the form of clubs and electives to encourage him to want to learn after the wars of kindergarten made him no longer willing to even try. He had the flexibility to excel in the areas he could and still take extra time for the lessons he needed extra help in. Finally, after beating my head against a wall for more than a year I had teachers who not only listened, but had the ability to act on my concerns. Let me be straight up here. My son's kindergarten teacher was a gem. She did the best she could with him and the restrictions her direct supervisors and school admin put on her. My issue with "them" is a story for another time.

After two years at CA we are making headway. He is still below grade level in reading and especially writing. His math skills are amazing, in his head. The moment he has to work through a problem on paper from beginning to end he forgets everything he knows about math. The numbers and concepts he knows so intimately in his head are a jumble to his eyes.  I know he has an uphill struggle but he is climbing far more often than he is sliding these days. Being his learning coach is not easy and gives me a profound appreciation for the people who choose to teach as a profession. It has caused gray hairs and anxiety attacks, there have even been tears, he cries sometimes too. We push on because I have seen what else is out there and I, like my mom before me, am my son's best advocate. He wants to learn everything there is to know. It's my job to help him find the tools to do so.

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