Monday, March 7, 2011

Connections Academy teaches the Spaz a huge lesson

If you've been following Domestic Spaz for a while now you might remember that we decided to home school Bug this year.

We decided to use a program called Connections Academy that works with our school district and gives Bug access to real teachers and an online curriculum and all that jazz. And when we decided to do it I was a little nervous but I totally thought it would be fine.

I mean, he was going to have a real teacher, right? Someone he could go to for help if he needed it. And there would be lessons online that would totally teach him what he needed to know and Bug loves the computer. It was going to be just fine.

I guess I underestimated how big my role as "Learning Coach" was going to be in this whole process. But even still, I totally thought I could do it.

I mean, it's only 5th grade, right? It's not like it's rocket science.

At first we were doing fine. And then we fell a little behind. But no worries, right? I mean, we'd just work a little over the holidays and maybe some weekends. But it was only a couple of weeks into the process that I realized Bug doesn't like school.

He hates writing. Writing anything at all, even filling in a worksheet, is like a torture that no one who hasn't actually been a POW could ever understand.

And math? OMG he hates math. Asking Bug to do math is like asking Lindsay Lohan to abstain from nightclubs and shopping for an entire year.

Don't even get me started on Social Studies. Learning about the history of our country is quite possibly more boring than watching paint dry.

So getting Bug to actually sit down and do his work in front of a computer (because computers can do totally awesome stuff that doesn't suck) when at home (with distractions like the dog and cat and a gajillion Legos and numerous remote control devices and an iPod touch) was wearing me down.

And then we got more behind.

Oh, and remember that real live teacher I mentioned before? Yeah, try real live four teachers. Because that's how many he's had over the course of the year. They just kept changing them. Just when we'd sort of start to think we knew how one wanted things, a new one would come along. Bug couldn't even remember what his teacher's name was half the time.

Emails to teachers would go days before they'd be answered and a call into one would almost always go to voice mail. And me? A teacher I am not. I wasn't kidding myself when we started this whole process. I know I'm no teacher. And Bug and I are very different.

I'm a writer by nature. So when Bug sits in front of a blank piece of paper and can't put ideas down on it I just don't really know how to help him. For me, it just flows. Always has. But for Bug it's like there's some crazy mental mind block and he freezes when there's a blank page in front of him. And I'm just like "What do you mean you can't write anything?"

Requests for help from teachers got me a sweet list of ideas from a "What To Do With Your ADHD Child" checklist. Something I could have googled myself, thankyouverymuch.

So in a moment of desperation I found myself sitting watery-eyed in the principal's office of the elementary school that Goober and Munchkin go to, explaining all this to him and asking him if it was possible for Bug to start in a regular 5th grade class for the rest of the year.

And Mr. Super Awesome Principal said that Bug would be fine starting back to a regular school. He reassured me. He made me feel like I didn't suck as a mom. He told me I was making the best decisions for my son that I could make at the time I had to make them. And I almost hugged him.

I'm not really huggy, though, so I didn't go that far.

But in my head? I totally hugged him.

So Bug starts regular school after Spring Break (which is next week... doesn't that seem crazy soon to you?) and I'm thrilled. And you know what? He's thrilled, too. Really and truly. And I'm sure we're going to have the same problems we had last year when Bug was in the gifted program at his old school. I'm sure homework will still be a problem and there will be frustration. But at the very least, Bug will have a real teacher to guide him.

Huge exhale.