liam’s learning

“It has been an amazing experience. Liam is excited to do math now and he knows he can do it.” – Diana Kurila

Every Monday evening Liam meets with Diana for one-to-one tutoring support in his home. Most of the time, Liam is eager to get going with his studies when Diana arrives. This is huge. Not long ago, Liam generally avoided anything to do school work. But thanks to your support for our Education Support Program, Liam is acquiring a love of learning.

Diana and Liam share a joke during one of their tutoring sessions

“Liam is growing every day,” says Diana, a second-year education student and volunteer tutor with Kids Cancer Care. “He’s excited to get started when I come. He’s enjoys math a lot more and he likes reading more each time. Liam is able to identify what he needs as a learner and tell me. He’s really engaged with his learning.”

Liam wasn’t born with a learning disability. He acquired it. At the age of two, Liam was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After two craniotomies, six rounds of chemotherapy, three stem cell transplants and daily radiation, Liam was left with a barrage of long-term after effects. Now eight years old and cancer-free, he still has issues with his balance and motor skills. His working memory and brain processing speed have also been affected.

As a result, Liam is struggling to keep up with his peers in class and on the playground.

“As he gets older, Liam is becoming more aware that he doesn’t have the same abilities and he gets frustrated,” says Mom Karla Gould. “His younger sister Madison is starting to pass him in some areas and that really frustrates him.”

Liam is working hard to improve. Thanks to your generous support, he is able to work on his balance and motor skills every Wednesday evening at PEER (Pediatric Oncology Patients Engaging in Exercise for Recovery) and, on Monday evenings, Liam works on his math and reading comprehension with Diana. Liam’s parents are seeing improvements.

“He’s more confident and he’ll give things a try now,” says Mom. “Liam’s issues with working memory and processing speed means he can only take in small amounts of information at a time, so he requires a lot of repetition to learn. Every time he learns something new, he has to go back and re-learn the fundamentals. A teacher with 20 other students in the classroom can’t give such individualized attention, so the extra time and the repetition he gets through tutoring are helping a lot.”

Diana regularly works with Liam’s teacher to determine areas for improvement and to develop weekly lesson plans. She’s become so adept at assessing Liam’s needs in the moment and quickly adapting the tutoring session that sometimes Liam isn’t even aware that he’s doing school work.

“Liam really likes games and getting a bit competitive,” says Diana. “We’ll spend the first hour in a competition between us, adding and subtracting or multiplying, using manipulatives like his Lego characters. He thinks it’s great. He’s having fun and he’s learning.”

In 2016/17, volunteer tutors gave 427 hours of one-to-one tutoring support to 19 children, who are struggling at school because of cancer-related health issues. Thank you for giving kids like Liam a chance to love learning too.

 Brighter futures with YOU.