12.04.2019

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 challenges, and just sad,” Mary remembers. Josh enrolled with iLEAD Exploration in the 2018-2019 school year and celebrated 8th grade promotion 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 greatly benefitted from the focused environment of homeschooling. At times, he still has moments of frustration, but with a difference. “He can have the feelings and then process them and understand, one-on-one with me,” says Mary. “In conventional school, he would just miss the entire lesson.” Along with academics, Josh is learning a lot of social-emotional skills that he needs to thrive in life. This invaluable learning is furthered in 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 pursue the field of marine biology. At every opportunity (after finishing schoolwork), he helps his dad work on their boat and enjoys fishing. Before visiting 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 he recently got a new quad. He has a contagious zest for outdoor life.

Now Josh and his 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 grown by leaps and bounds in everything. It has been a huge effort for the whole family, but we are getting there, and the progress is unbelievable. 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.”

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