Learner Spotlight: Joshua Bird

Josh fishing

Homeschooling was not the plan for iLEAD Exploration 9th grader Josh Bird, but by the end of 7th grade it was clear to his mom, Mary, that he was not thriving in his brick and mortar school, and something needed to change. “He was so unhappy, with behavior problems, and just sad,” Mary remembers. Josh enrolled with iLEAD Exploration in the 2018-2019 school year, and graduated 8th grade with a huge smile on his face! Now in high school, he has the best grades he has had in a long time, and is engaged, joyful, and confident again. December’s theme of “zest” fits Josh perfectly, as he faces new challenges with curiosity and energy, and is always eager to share his enthusiasm.


Josh has a diagnosis of ADHD, and it can be a challenge for him to stay focused on the task at hand, especially in difficult areas of study like writing and literature. He has benefitted hugely from the focused environment of homeschooling. He still has some outbursts of frustration sometimes, but with a difference: “He can get upset, have the feelings, and then process them and understand, one-on-one with me,” says Mary, “rather than in conventional school where he would just miss the entire lesson.” So along with academics, Josh is learning a lot of social emotional skills that he needs to thrive in life. This invaluable learning is further built up by sessions with iLEAD’s Student Support team.


The flexible model of homeschool has also allowed Josh to engage more with his passions. Josh eats, sleeps and breathes fish and any kind of marine life—his goal is to go into the field of marine biology. At every opportunity (after finishing schoolwork), he helps his dad work on their boat, and goes out fishing. Before going to a particular fishing destination, Josh will research the exact bait, lures, and rods they will need, and he independently sets up all the gear and bait for himself and his two younger siblings. Josh also loves riding dirt bikes and going shooting with his family, and recently got a new quad. He has a contagious zest for outdoor life.


Now Josh and his amazing mother, Mary, who works as a nurse, are almost a year and a half into their homeschooling journey. One goal of Mary’s is to help Josh never see his learning differences as an excuse, and she works hard to support Josh in staying accountable and rising to the challenge of high school. Josh is taking one class at a learning center and several through iLEAD Online, and he is doing well!


Mary sums it up this way: “He has made leaps and bounds in everything. It has been hard and a huge effort for the whole family, but we are getting there and the progress is unbelievable. And his confidence level is so different, and he is so happy! Days do not always go as planned, and I get frustrated, but then I look at what he’s learned and how far he’s come, and I am so proud.”



TED Talk: Zest

Zest is a kind of zeal or enthusiasm for life! Check out this kids’ incredible passion and obvious ZEST for what he is doing and for life in general! What gets you and your kids excited to be alive? What projects, passions,…

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