'Black Friday' Sale on items in our online store! Games for learning, fun geography book, 'Math by Kids!'.....
Susan Richman, 11/25/2013
Seeing all the announcements of 'Black Friday' sales coming up, we've decided to put some items on special sales for the next MONTH. Check out our online store (just click on each title!) for full details. Might make fun gifts for your kids!
- Math by Kids! by Susan Richman. This fun 'workbook' is a compendium of original-- and intriguing!-- math word problems created by homeschool kids from all over the nation. We used to have a regular 'feature' in our old print newsletter, featuring original math problems homeschool kids had written -- and this book was a collection of the very best ones. Good for all age kids-- problems from 5 year olds up through VERY advanced (and clever!!) high school students. Many of the kids taking part also enjoyed some of great math contest programs available, like MathCounts and the Math Olympiad and modeled their problems on those engaging multi-step non-routine problems. Many problems are also similar to problems found in the popular Figure it Out math workbook series we sell in our online store. Full explanations for all problems included in the book. These are not 'boring' math problems-- and if the book is really a success, then your kids will start creating their own problems, too! Regular price $6.95, now just $3.48 on sale!!! (see the 'Our Publications' section of our online store)
- The Scrambled States of America (hardback book), by Laurie Keller. This book is a *favorite* of most kids who see it-- from preschoolers through late elementary years. Our 9-year-old grand-daughter from VA was reading it aloud to our 2-year-old grand-daughter from Israel when they were all together here at our farm in Western PA this October-- and the little one was enthralled!! Very humorous-- and makes learning about the states and where they are located light-hearted and engaging. Delightful and whimsical illustrations! Regular price $9.95, now just $4.98 on sale -- limited supply!!!
- SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception. This terrific and fast-paced game has won over 25 'Best Game' awards! Our kids LOVED this growing up-- and we were introduced to it by another homeschooling family, of course! Takes creative analytical thinking-- one year our son Jacob attended a special summer math enrichment college program, and his special team project there was to analyze this game! Most kids get MUCH faster than their parents surprisingly quickly! Can be played solo or in a group of any size. A great game for a range of ages! Was $11.95 on close-out sale... NOW just $5.98 while supplies last!!!! Just the right size to fit in a stocking, or to give as a little gift on a night of Hanukkah, too!
Hope you find something fun for the children on your 'list' this year!! Check out the other 'close-out' items in our Online Store (link above), too!! Hope you all have a very happy holiday season!
Susan Richman, Editor, PA Homeschoolers
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board 2013-14 Annual Poster Contest
PA Liquor Control Board, 10/18/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman--
In past years many homeschoolers have taken part in this annual poster contest that helps students investigate the problems of underage drinking. This can be a valuable part of an overall health program -- not to mention a great art lesson! The website for the program includes images of past winning posters, to help students get a feel for the level of quality hoped for in the contest. I especially like that the contest is encouraging students to come up with positive
images of the many wonderful alternatives
to using alcohol, rather than focusing on negative images. Here's also one (of many!) possible websites
that has helpful information for parents about starting the conversation about alcohol use -- and this poster contest can be one vehicle to do so. This link to PLCB resources
can also be helpful-- many are PDF information sheets you can print out at home. Hope your student takes part-- and that we have some homeschool winners once again this year!
With a little under a month remaining until the deadline, the Bureau of Alcohol Education wants to remind you that we are still accepting submissions for the Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest. This contest is open to all Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including those who are home-schooled.
The Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest is a valuable educational tool that provides students with an opportunity to learn about the dangers of....
PHAA Graduate Ruthie Snoke publishes first novel!
Ruthie Snoke, 10/7/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was delighted to receive the following email from PHAA graduate Ruthie Snoke, sharing about her new novel that's just been published. My own girls knew the Snoke family well through their time together on a homeschool volleyball team, and it's just always great to hear about the unique endeavors of homeschool alumni! I'm always amazed at the initiative homeschoolers are taking in forging ahead in their lives, truly working to use their gifts to help others and spread the learning that was so valuable to them growing up. Ruthie also has an excellent website, where she shares not only about her new book, but about her acting classes, poetry writing, and more. Ruthie is a graduate from Wheaton College (2011), with a major in English and a minor in theater, and has just started a graduate program in NYC.
I'm writing because I just completed self-publishing my first novel, and my mom suggested I contact you and let the wider homeschool network know! I think this is a book that will be meaningful to other homeschoolers, and perhaps provide some inspiration to aspiring homeschool writers (that it's possible to get your work out there!)
The book is a novel told in first person, and it's from the perspective of a girl named Ede, who lives in a medieval-type world. I created the world myself, but based it heavily on a blend of different cultures from our own world, so it's a unique blend of fantasy that feels like historical fiction, somewhat in the style of Ursula LeGuin. The book deals with themes of growing up, hurt, forgiveness and change, and I would recommend it for high schoolers. It has themes such as adultery in it, and though it is in no way explicit, there are some parts that parents may want to make sure their student is ready for.
Here is the synopsis:
"Trapped in the restricted city of Bell, Ede lives in a world of stories. But when her husband begins talking about...
Trying Life On...
Jeannette Webb , 9/26/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Jeannette Webb is founder of Aiming Higher Consultants, a high school planning and college consulting firm dedicated to helping homeschooled students reach their potential and successfully apply to their dream colleges. Learn more at www.aiminghigherconsultants.com. Jeannette has also been a keynote speaker at our Summer PHAA High School at Home Conference held in Central PA, and she always sends wonderful homeschool students our way for our AP Online classes. We know many families who have been truly blessed by Jeannette's down-to-earth guidance in thinking ahead to college and career andlife goals.
I am troubled as an educational counselor when I come across a student who hasn’t really lived. Sadly, I have to report that it is more common than you might imagine.
The parents of these kids often operate at opposite ends of the continuum. The laid-back parents surround their kids in a bubble-like existence – protected from themselves and from others. These parents want their kids to be happy. They want them to have fun. They screen any potential problems or consequences. Thus these kids don’t challenge themselves. They take dumbed down high school classes, hang with the youth group, and play video games. They never really get out in the real world and figure it out. I have found this route doesn’t make kids happy even though it looks like fun.
At the other end of the scale are the ambitious parents who follow someone else’s checklist of “Things Teens MUST Do To Get Into Good Colleges.” These kids are forced to follow THE LIST and compile a killer resume that reeks of academic competition wins, multiple 5’s on AP tests, and near professional competency in an extracurricular activity only to realize they don’t really like any of the school subjects they performed so well in and don’t have a clue what they want to do with their life. These parents have mistakenly believed that real life is found in tests and competitions. This route doesn’t promote happiness or fun.
Either approach leads to some pretty listless living.
Real living is messy and dirty and often filled with mistakes. It is trying things that seem impossible and sometimes succeeding and sometimes not....
Introducing Father & Son Camp East (in Western PA) -- coming up this October 3-6, 2013!
Heidi Strawser from 'Homeschool Mosaic' blogsite, quoting from Kellie Crowe, 9/4/2013
"Boxadoo" -- a new homeschool digital portfolio tool! BETA testers needed ;-)
Joanna Herndon, 8/20/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: This sounds like a very interesting new product that many in Pennsylvania might especially want to explore. A small but growing number of homeschooling families in PA are now creating digital portfolios on their computers, rather than physical notebooks-- and I'm sure this trend will grow. In thinking about this option, I'm reminded, too, of the young friends of mine now in college who have been compiling *digital portfolios* of their work in education studies, demonstrating all they've been learning and doing and creating over their 4 years of study. This homeschooling family who has developed 'Boxadoo' is specifically looking for families ready to help them *test* their product-- can't think of a better group than homeschoolers in Pennsylvania to help with this project! Could give your family a whole new motivation for working on portfolios *early* this year! Let me know if you opt to take part-- and how you find this particular option, designed with homeschooling families in mind. And if you help out in this testing stage, you'll earn a 20% discount on the very reasonable annual fee of $49 for a whole family. Take a look!
Hi, my name is Joanna Herndon, homeschool mom of 4 from Wesley Chapel, Florida. My husband, Jason and I have created a homeschool management tool called Boxadoo that we would like to share with the homeschool community. Boxadoo is an online tool that allows you to create a portfolio, record grades, upload photos, videos and manage events. We are currently working on sign-ups for our BETA that will take place in the next few weeks. We are excited to sign up homeschool families and allow them to check out the features and hear feedback during this initial BETA testing. If this is something your homeschool community might be interested in or benefit from, please pass this information along!You can find us at www.boxadoo.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/boxadoo. On our website, we will be collected email address for those interested in participating in our BETA. Please feel free to check out the site and email me if you have any questions!
Boxadoo right now features the following...
Homeschool grad moving on to international living.... a mom shares the story
Ellen Stewart, 8/16/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Ellen Stewart of Johnstown PA is the mom of many children, all adopted (many internationally)-- she is no stranger to traveling to China or Russia or Korea to meet and welcome her new children. Now she's experiencing having her 4th child, Molly, move on to living abroad-- and shares thoughts that I'm sure will resonate with many of you. I definitely encourage you to check out Molly's wonderful blog-- I thought I'd just read the opening entry, but found myself moving through every post! It's actually really surprising -- and gratifying! -- to me just how many homeschool graduates have chosen to spend extended time living abroad in their early adult years. I have another blogsite to share in a few days from a graduate who spent time working in a medical mission in Africa, one of her dreams since childhood. I know other students who lived abroad in Taiwan teaching in preschools, or who are teaching US history in mainland Chinese high schools, or who've made their home in Uganda, and as many of you know our older daughter has now lived in Israel for over 5 years. What's that we all used to hear that by homeschooling, our kids might never 'leave home'??? Maybe the old saying about 'giving them roots, and giving them wings' is true-- we've done both!
I held her as closely as I could for as long as I could. She still had the same smell that I remembered when she was a baby. Molly had grown up in to a lovely young woman and was preparing to board a plane for Bolivia for her first teaching job in an international school. She was tired. I was crying. I gave her a kiss on the cheek then released her. She was free.
When I began homeschooling over two decades ago, the days seemed long, tedious, redundant, and tiring. We had many fun times, but there was always the daily rhythm that carried us from math to English to history like a wave through the day. The water was finally crashing on the shore. Molly had graduated years before and secured a teaching degree along with her master's in English as a Second Language (ESL). She had lived in town and would pop in for frequent visits with her family. She had worked for an insurance company for a few years before landing a job as a therapeutic staff support (TSS) person in the local school system. Now she was going to a new continent on the other side of the equator. She would learn to speak Spanish. She would teach ESL to the other teachers in her English speaking school. She would learn to manage classrooms of junior high students. The curriculums would be built with her own hands.
It was interesting to get an email from Molly mentioning that she would be speaking with the Social Studies teacher. She wanted to coordinate her work teaching Language Arts with the history lessons the children received. That's what we used to do around our kitchen table. Now that experience would be transferred to a school in Bolivia.
Molly was always a great writer. I once told her that I didn't know what she would be when she grew up, but she would write whatever profession she might choose. She began a blog about her experience entitled Something New 22 http://startofsomethingnew22.blogspot.com/. In it, she describes her ventures into a new world, learning how to establish authority in a classroom, and wrestling with self-doubt during her bouts of homesickness.
This would be a great blog for home schooled students to read! It might give them a flavor for adventure, an appreciation for other cultures, and gratitude for America. It might be a new door that they will walk through themselves one day.
PA Homeschoolers FALL TESTING registration now open!
Susan Richman, 8/9/2013
We are once again hosting a series of Fall Testing Sites all across Pennsylvania, using the TerraNova achievement test. Please see full info by clicking here, or on the link above that says 'Testing Service'. The cost is still just $30 per student with pre-registration either online till October 21st, or by check mailed in post-marked October 18, 2013. Note: there is a $3.95 service/handling charge on all online orders. If you prefer to just come to a test site that day and do 'walk-in' registration, the fee is $35 at the door (this $35 fee also applies to online registration after October 21st).
All testing days start promptly at 9:30am (so plan to arrive by 9:10am!), and we're so grateful to the churches and synagogues that have opened their doors to allow us to offer this service, where homeschoolers can be tested in a comfortable group setting with other homeschoolers.
The testing fee covers all expenses of the testing date, and includes the service of mailing your child's test results to your home directly, within usually 10 days of testing. Students should bring pencils for the testing day -- all other supplies (simple rulers, scratch paper, etc) are provided by us... and if you forget pencils, we'll have extras, too! Students in 5th grade and up can also bring calculators, which can be used for the math word problem section only (this is optional-- calculators are not required).
Do check out the past articles we've posted here about preparing for testing-- see our right-hand sidebar links.
Hope to see you at one of our Fall Testing Sites!
Susan Richman, Editor PA Homeschoolers
CA4: The New Common Application for College
Denise Boiko, 8/3/2013
Denise Boiko and her husband Ron homeschooled their two children from K-12. Their daughter, a 2010 Stanford graduate, is now in medical school at the University of Pittsburgh and their son is a 2013 graduate of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Denise is the author of a 400-page book, Homeschooled & Headed for College: Your Road Map for a Successful Journey, which details the entire college preparation and application process for a homeschooler. The book is available on her website www.HomeschoolRoadMap.com.
The Common Application, which has been simplifying college applications since 1975, has rolled out a new version of its application, christened CA4, effective August 2013. Applicants planning to enter college as freshmen or transfer students in the fall of 2014 should be aware of these changes. Homeschooling parents, take note, particularly if you have already worked with the Common App in previous years and are expecting it to be the same. It's not!
Wait...Just What Is the Common Application?
If you are new to the college application circus, this is an entirely valid question that merits a bit of background. In short, the Common Application was designed to be a form that the student completes just once and then submits to as many member colleges as he/she plans to apply to. Currently, more than 500 colleges and universities are members. Thus, students have a wide variety of choices, and submitting the Common App cuts down on the paperwork quite significantly. In addition to answering the garden variety questions relating to personal and family information, extracurricular activities, and test scores, the student writes and submits one main application essay. Teacher recommendations are submitted “once and for all” within the application, and the school counselor or homeschool supervisor (often the parent) also prepares a report and a transcript that is sent out to the colleges the student has chosen. Individual colleges may require a supplementary portion to the application (here's where the application becomes less simple than originally expected), in which the student answers college-specific questions. These may be as straightforward as listing the student's intended major or reporting whether any relatives are alumni of the institution, or as complicated as writing one or several additional essays.
The Changes, in Brief...
Here is a rundown of the 2013 changes:
- The site is now commonapp.org rather than commonapp.com.
- Previous essay prompts have been completely revised, with a new enforced word limit and use of text-entry rather than document upload.
- The extracurricular short essay has been removed from the main application and moved to college-specific supplements on the Member Page.
- The Home School Supplement form has been removed....
American Homeschool Model United Nations Conference 2013 This September 26, 2013!
Nicholas Emery, 7/24/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I've known a number of homeschoolers who have loved participating in the Model UN program-- participation really lets these students learn in a very active way about so many current (and controversial!) issues around the world, and lets them meet a wide range of other students at regional meets. I was very pleased when homeschooler Nicholas Emery from New Jersey shared with me about this upcoming conference for homeschoolers and Model UN -- and the 'early bird' registration fee is still available until August 1, 2013. Hope you might be able to attend and gain a feel for this excellent program. The date of the upcoming conference is September 26, 2013, and it will be held at the Princeton Holiday Inn, in Princeton NJ.
$25 per delegate Early Registration through August 1, 2013
$30 per delegate August 2, 2013 – September 1, 2013
American Homeschool Model United Nations Conference 2013 This September 26, 2013!
Planning where to hold the 2020 Olympics. Discussing GMOs in the context of international trade. Collaborating with students from around the world. These are just some of the many experiences students have in Model United Nations. Model UN is an organization in which high school students from across the nation, and indeed around the world, model the UN. Delegates attend conferences hosted by major universities and organizations, where they spend four action-packed days of debate and collaboration as they work together to solve relevant, real-world issues.
Over the past several years, delegates from our club, the American Homeschool Model UN Club (AHMUNC), have attended conferences hosted by top universities. Two years ago, our delegates went to the Ivy League Model UN Conference (ILMUNC) hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. We attended such committees as
I just got this note accompanying a registration for our July 12 High School at Home Conference
Howard Richman, 5/17/2013
Patty Hegberg writes:
I am enclosing my registration fee for the 2013 High School at Home Conference. I am very much looking forward to it!
Our son Tim, is graduating this year and will be attending Dickinson College in the fall. He obtained a $10,000 scholarship plus considerable grant money from the college. PHAA [Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency] has a great reputation and we had no issues with any of his applications. Thank you for all you do!...
Are your kids curious about investing? Here's a great help-- created by a homeschool graduate!
John Pilch, PHAA grad 2011... developer of investment curriculum!, 5/1/2013
Editor's Note from Susan: I was delighted to meet John Pilch at the recent Greater Pittsburgh Homeschool Workshop. He was staffing a vendor table with a curriculum on investing-- I wondered if he was the developer.... or maybe was just helping a parent. I was very grateful to hear he had indeed created this helpful course to let students learn about the stock market and strategies for investing-- and was even happier to find out he was a 2011 PA Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency graduate, and that he began investing in the stock market himself when just 15! He's now a student at Penn State University in the Smeal College of Business. Neat to see homeschool grads really moving into their fields of interest, AND to see them working to give back to the homeschool community in unique ways by sharing their growing expertise. Thanks, John-- and best wishes on your www.2Young2Invest.com website!
The more one learns about the power of investing, the more he realizes the importance of starting early. Benjamin Graham, a famous investor of the 20th century wrote, “There is a great advantage for the young capitalist to begin his financial education and experience early. If he is going to operate as an aggressive investor he is certain to make some mistakes and to take some losses. Youth can stand these disappointments and profit by them.”
Fundamentals of Investing in the Stock Market is an introductory curriculum that examines the basics of investing and of the stock market using examples, illustrations, case studies, and exercises. It is designed for students interested in business or for students who desire to manage their personal finances effectively. Ideally, the course will instill in students a passion for investing that....
Hearing on Tuesday -- Homeland Security Prosecutes German Homeschooling Family
Howard Richman, 4/21/2013
In November 2008, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike sold their grand piano (Uwe is a piano teacher) and fled to the United States with their five children. In Germany they were paying fines and being threatened with having their children taken away from them. The facts of the case are not in dispute:
[Uwe and Hannalore] began homeschooling their children in September 2006 primarily for religious reasons. Their decision was in knowing violation of the compulsory school attendance law [of Germany]. Several times in the following months, the applicants were warned verbally and in writing that they were in violation of the compulsory school attendance law. They were fined. Police forcibly escorted the children to school one day. The adult applicants were warned that they could lose custody of their children in they continued to refuse to send their children to school. Legal proceedings resulted in the adult applicants being found guilty of violating the compulsory school attendance law. By the time the applicants left Germany, their fines had risen to approximately 7,000 Euros.
After fleeing to the United States, they requested asylum, which was granted to them by an immigration judge on January 24, 2010. According to the The Christian Post:
In his ruling, Judge Lawrence O. Burman acknowledged that not every country can be expected to follow the United States’ Constitution. But in the case of the Romeikes, formerly of Bissingen, Germany, Burman said the rights that were being violated were “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”
“Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress,” the judge stated in his decision, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which represented the family in their case.
Though Germany is a democratic country and a U.S. ally, Burman noted Tuesday that its policy against homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
The Department of Homeland Security appealed the immigration judge's decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and on May 4, 2012, the BIA accepted their argument that since German law prevented everyone from homeschooling, the Romeike family did not have a legitimate case that they were being persecuted. Specifically, the BIA held:...
Results of April 12, 2013, Western PA volleyball tournament sponsored by PA Homeschoolers
Howard Richman, 4/19/2013
The first number is the place that the team finished. In parentheses is the approximate location of the team.
Senior Division A
1. Mustangs (Pittsburgh East)
2. CAVA A (Harrisburg Area)
3. Salt & Light Red (Beaver County)
4. Eagles White (Indiana County)
Senior Division B
1. CAVA B (Harrisburg Area)
2. Phoenix 1 (Venango County)
3. Salt & Light Orange (Beaver County)
4. Timberwolves 2 (Grove City Area)
5. Timberwolves 1 (Grove City Area)
6. Salt & Light Yellow (Beaver County)
7. Indiana Eagles Gold (Indiana County)
8. Phoenix 2 (Venango County)
Junior Division A
1. Mustangs (Pittsburgh East)
2. Salt & Light Green (Beaver County)
3. CAVA A (Harrisburg Area)
4. Eagles White (Indiana County)
Junior Division B
1. Timberwolves 2 (Grove City Area)
2. Salt & Light Blue (Beaver County)
3. Timberwolves 1 (Grove City Area)
4. Salt & Light Purplie (Beaver County)
5. Eagles Gold (Indiana County)
All Tournament Team - Senior Division...
Encore! Home School Productions presents "Meet Me in St. Louis" April 5 - 7 in Camp Hill PA (at Trinity High School.)
Nancy Emerson, 4/4/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Once again the homeschool Encore! drama group in Central PA is putting on a major production, and they've also gotten great press coverage already in the Patriot News out of Harrisburg. Our best wishes on this musical! I know that the whole cast and support team of countless other students and parents have put in hours and hours and hours of dedicated work!
If you've never been to one of Encore's main stage productions, you're in for a treat. I'm still amazed after seven years of involvement! This year's show, set in St. Louis at the time of the 1904 World's Fair, is fast-moving with familiar songs, lively dances, and memorable characters. I recommend it for anyone from age 5 - 105!
Tickets available at www.showtix4u.com for the April 5, 6 and 7 performances.
Forrest Davis as John Truitt and Amber Emerson as Esther Smith in Encore's upcoming show, Meet Me in St. Louis April 5-7, 2013
Austin Cassel as Mr. Smith and Emma Graybill as Mrs. Smith in Encore's upcoming show, Meet Me in St. Louis April 5-7, 2013
Amber Emerson as Esther Smith, Michael Snader as Grandpa, and Rachel Snyder as Rose Smith in Encore's upcoming show, Meet Me in St. Louis April 5-7, 2013
New Online Store wth 21 products at 25% off at PA Homeschoolers
Howard Richman, 3/24/2013
We just updated our Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Online Store in order to simplify the store in order to make your buying experience easier.
We are phasing out most of our books, games and CD's. All of the following products are on 25% sale in our new Closeouts section:
||CDs for learning to sing in harmony
||Figure It Out - student workbook
||Figure It Out - teacher's guide
||French in Action - book for free online videos
||Little Hands Card Holder
||Math Olympiad Contest Problems by George Lenchner
||Math Video Courses from Chalk Dust - used
||Mathematics a Human Endeavor
||Pretty Darn Quick - word game
||Rat-a-tat Cat - math game
||SAT guides from the College Board
||Scoring High for the Iowa - student workbook
||Scoring High for the Iowa - teachers manual
||Scoring High for the Stanford - student workbook
||Scoring High for the Stanford - teachers manual
||Scrambled States of America - book
||SET - logic game
We continue to have a flat $3.95 shipping/handling fee, no matter what the size of your order. So order as many of these closeouts as you want. After the first item, shipping is free!...
Indiana PA testing date for March 6th POSTPONED -- new date is Wednesday March 20th!!
Susan Richman, 3/5/2013
Due to forecasts of up to 4 to 8 inches in the region for tomorrow morning, we've decided to *postpone* our testing date in Indiana PA. Our new testing date is Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at the same location, Sovereign Grace Church in Indiana PA.
Hope to see you there! We have sent an email message to everyone who has already pre-registered for testing, and we've updated the online registration form to reflect our new date-- you can still sign on up!
Hope everyone enjoys a fun *snow day* tomorrow-- you might want to take a look at this fun set of writings from students from my Homeschool Writing Club about What Homeschoolers Do on a Snow Day. Enjoy!
AP course registrations opening VERY soon-- including a new 2nd section of AP World History!
Gwen Umbreit Smith, 2/12/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to hear very recently from a PHAA graduate and former AP US History online student, Gwen Umbreit Smith. I know she's going to add wonderful energy to our terrific line-up for AP Online courses for the coming school year-- she's both an experienced online learner and teacher! Be sure to head over to www.aphomeschoolers.com by February 15th, when we unveil our totally renovated website sharing info on all of our 2013-2014 Advanced Placement classes. You'll find full course descriptions (and photos of each teacher!),full info on how to apply, how to pay tuition fees once accepted, and maybe most helpful of all, student reviews of each course. I think you'll all really like the 'new look' of the website, too! (Much thanks to our daughter, Maya (Molly) Richman Inspektor for her help with the re-design!). And now here's a chance to get to know our newest teacher, Gwen Smith!
It is with great excitement that I am joining the AP teachers for PA Homeschoolers! I will be partnering with Mrs. Gloria Harrison to offer a second section of AP World History for the 2013-2014 school year. In a way, I am “coming home” by teaching my first class with PA Homeschoolers. In 2001, I walked across the stage at The Forum in Harrisburg to receive an accredited PHAA diploma from my parents who had tirelessly devoted the past nine years to homeschooling me. I am still in awe of the time and resources they dedicated to homeschooling so that I could earn a quality high school education. I am sure the decision to enroll me in multiple online AP courses was not an easy one, but I am forever grateful that they did. The online AP courses I took were a crucial part of my high school education and I am confident they set me up for the successes I’ve had in my continuing education and career.
June 2001, Harrisburg, Pa: Having fun taking pictures on my graduation day with fellow homeschool friends. L-R: Annie Blakeslee, Hannah Richman, April (Smelser) Starr, Gwen (Umbreit) Smith, Meghan (Bishop) Paher.
In the summer of 1999, I cracked open a seemingly unending textbook and embarked on my first online AP course offered through PA Homeschoolers. Under the tutelage of Susan Richman, I read and wrote more than I ever had before. And though learning how to write for an AP course was hard and frustrating work, it was incredibly rewarding. I received invaluable feedback from my teacher and classmates – I had never had that before! The only feedback I was used to was my mom’s. Receiving comments and critiques from a teacher and peers challenged and grew me in ways individual study never could have done. Gradually the course work shifted from a challenging task to my favorite part of every day.
Through the relationships I built with my classmates and the guidance of Mrs. Richman....
Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships
Sheryl Robel, 1/31/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to get an email recently from Sheryl Robel, a wonderful homeschooling mother I've known for years and years. Some of our kids were on homeschool volleyball teams together, and the Robel kids all took part in the Homeschoolers Writing Club that I offered for years. Sheryl was writing to share the very happy news that her youngest son, Ben, had just been named a winner in the state level of the Horatio Alger Scholarship program, earning $5000 towards the college of his choice. I looked into this particular scholarship-- the organization offers 50 of these $5000 scholarships to students in Pennsylvania.They are looking for students who "have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity and who aspire to pursue higher education." A family must also demonstrate financial needs in pursuing a college education for their student. The website further shares the values they seek to establish through their scholarship program:
The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. Today, through its Members, the Association continues to educate our nation's young people about the economic and personal opportunities afforded them by the promise of the American free enterprise system. Through its scholarship programs, the Association encourages students to pursue their own version of the American Dream. While providing scholarship opportunities, Association Members mentor the Scholars and underscore the importance of service to others. The Members work directly to provide promising young people with the support, education and confidence needed to realize their aspirations.
After hearing this good news about Ben's honor, I emailed Sheryl to see if she would like to share her thoughts on encouraging kids to try for various college scholarships-- and I was delighted to hear right back from her! Many words of wisdom here! And above everything, be sure to look for scholarship opportunities that resonate with *your student*, that just seem to have his or her 'name written all over them.'
One further thought-- although applying for scholarships can be a *lot* of work, and of course not every application will net a 'win', still putting in this dedicated time can also help our kids learn about follow-through, communicate effectively (and with a grateful heart!) with the adults asked to write recommendation letters, meet duedates right on time, develop their writing skills, and demonstrate resourcefulness and discernment.... all very valuable character qualities and skills to gain, even if the dollars don't come through each time. There might be more that is gained here than just the 'official' award! Also, know that many scholarship programs involve helping kids learn more about the whole financial aspect of attending college and more-- there are great newsletters, say, for the students interested in this Horatio Alger program, to guide them through the process and connect them with other great getting-ready-for-college resources.
So... now for Sheryl's thoughts on this process....
Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships
Just about ten years ago our eldest of seven children started looking at colleges and took her first PSAT. And that is when I realized that we could have started our hunt for “outside scholarships” (ones that are granted from foundations and programs not associated with any particular school or university) much sooner. To start with, I had no idea that the PSAT (which we had signed up to take just to warm up for the SAT) was also a scholarship competition.
Highly motivated because I had already missed one opportunity, I went to our local library and spent an afternoon scanning through a REALLY big book, which listed an overwhelming number of scholarships organized alphabetically, and I returned home quite overwhelmed. I didn’t really have time for this kind of research project, but I also didn’t want to incur any debt for higher education.
Thankfully for us, Geneva College’s financial aid office made us aware of a very helpful tool called....
Still time to register for our next SAT Essay preparation course!
Susan Richman, 1/16/2013
Our online SAT essay writing class prepares students for the on-the-spot essay now included in every College Board SAT exam. These 4-week classes, which precede the October and March test administrations, use the same interactive format that has been so successful in ourAdvanced Placement test preparation classes. Students write, get feedback, and then revise up to five different typical SAT exam essays as they sharpen their writing skills in preparation for the exam. If you register now, you will be signing up for a class which begins on February 4 (2013), which finishes in time to prepare students for the March 9, 2013, exam or later exams.
Karen Boyd, our long-time teacher for our SAT Essay Preparation Class, will be leading the course again this session. Students will use the SAT Study Guide published by the College Board for the course-- all essay topics will be taken from this excellent and comprehensive book. A bonus is that this guide can also be used by your student for self-study for all Critical Reading and Mathematics sections of the SAT also.
Karen Boyd writes in the course description found here: This is the ninth year, this class has been offered. Over the years I have observed that many homeschoolers have never written a timed essay. Many more had never written an essay in which they were asked to defend a clear position in writing. In fact, the idea seemed foreign to them. This class is designed to introduce students to that....
PBS 'Kids Go!' Writing Contest for grades K-3 starting up-- homeschoolers have won in the past!
Susan Richman, 1/10/2013
Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Have your young kids come up with some delightful creative stories? Then consider entering this fun writing contest sponsored by Public Broadcasting Station WQED in Pittsburgh. The wonderful homeschooling Troll family from Somerset PA has had two daughters enter and go to the top levels of this contest-- their original illustrated books were delightful, and I loved seeing the little video last year at evaluations of their daughter Caroline Troll at the WQED studio recording her book (the 3rd place winner!), reading it aloud with lively expression-- and you can hear little 6-year old Caroline Troll reading her delightful butterfly story right up at the contest website! I know you'll be charmed. Older sister Christine Troll (now in 6th grade) was the 1st place third grade winner in 2010-- click here to read and see her full book, including all of her amazingly detailed and creative illustrations (just 'click' on the picture of her book, and a new pop-up window with the full book, with 'page turning' shows up-- amazing!).
And to get your kids' creative ideas going, definitely check out all the 'back winners' stories-- they are all up online, and I know you're kids will be VERY inspired to see what other children have created. In fact, one of the very wonderful things about looking into many types of contests is that the websites for the contests often share past winners' work, and looking over these quality efforts can really help our kids gain a sense of just what might be possible. It's like getting free curriculum materials-- and very motivating ones at that!
This year's contest is open to students in Grades K-3 in the Western and Central PA regions as well as in West Virginia. The 'kick-off' is starting January 15th, and stories must be submitted by April 5, 2013. There are different length requirements for each grade level, and young children who can't yet write down their own stories can dictate to an adult. At least five colorful illustrations must accompany the story. The links below will give you all the needed info-- let us know if your kids enter, or let us know how they enjoyed seeing the past winning stories! This would also be a terrific activity for homeschool Writing Clubs or weekly Co-op programs.
(The cover of kindergartner Caroline Troll's original story-- 3rd place regional winner in 2012!)
WQED PITTSBURGH ANNOUNCES ANNUAL PBS KIDS GO! WRITERS CONTEST
PITTSBURGH – Today, WQED announced its annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. Also partnering with WQED this year arePenn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU) which serves central Pennsylvania and West Virginia Public Broadcasting(WVPB). The Contest, made possible by financial support from EQT Corporation, encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.
“WQED is committed to providing fun opportunities for Pittsburgh-area kids to express their creativity,” said Deborah L. Acklin, President and CEO, WQED. “The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest helps children across southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond to build valuable literacy skills for success in school and life.”
How the Contest Works
Beginning January 14, 2013, children in southwestern and central Pennsylvania, as well as throughout West Virginia, can submit their entries to the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest. WQED will select local winners and award prizes, including the opportunity to record their winning story to be broadcast on Saturday Light Brigade (SLB) Radio in the spring of 2013.
WQED will send its list of winners to the national contest where a panel of esteemed judges will rank the top 12 entries. National winners will be announced during the summer of 2013 and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest....
Move From Impressive to Intriguing in your College Applications
Jeannette Webb, 12/3/2012
Jeannette Webb is founder of Aiming Higher Consultants, a high school planning and college consulting firm dedicated to helping homeschooled students reach their potential and successfully apply to their dream colleges. Learn more at aiminghigherconsultants.com. Jeannette is also the mother of two homeschool graduates who both went on to highly selective colleges, and she was our keynote speakers two summers ago at our PHAA High School at Home summer conference. We know manyvery happy families who've worked with her closely during the college application process, including many of the students in our Advanced Placement online courses (including international homeschoolers) as well as students in the PHAA diploma program here in PA. She's terrific!
[photo by Susan Richman, taken on Nov 2012 trip to Israel... what makes one rock more interesting than the next?]
It is autumn and my clients from around the world are working hard on presenting a winning application to the college of their dreams. And, some are shocked by the advice I give them.
If you want to catch an admissions officer's attention, seek to intrigue rather than impress.
What do I mean by that?
Your story (the compilation of essays, short answer questions, activity profile, counselor letter, teacher recommendations, school profile, transcript legend, and interviews) needs to be seamless. They should all agree with each other, but each piece doesn’t highlight the same things. It should give colleges a glimpse into your life that catches their attention and we do that by making it interesting, not by pounding them over the head with your accomplishments.
It’s amazing how often I have to rein mothers in! I totally understand because after 12 years of catching flack for homeschooling my kids I wanted to brag too!! But, we can’t go there. Trust me. Over and over again, I have to tell moms to....
Samuel Pritt, homeschool senior from Maryland, who's taken many AP Online classes with PA Homeschoolers, is doing major research that's helping FEMA with Hurricane Sandy!!!
Susan Richman, 11/14/2012
Samuel Pritt has been very active in our AP Online courses, as have all his siblings, and he's also prepared on his own for many other AP exams. A special interest is Computer Science, and for his AP Computer Science independent studies he developed a unique program that can help with geolocation from photos-- and FEMA is now using this software to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Samuel presented the project for the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, one of the most prestigious science competitions nationwide.
He was just recently interviewed on television news-- see this link! I just wish the interviewer had mentioned that Samuel has been homeschooled all his life! Samuel is also involved in a cancer research lab, is an advanced pianist, and loves a full range of sports. An amazing homeschooler-- and we offer our warmest congratulations to Samuel for all of his incredible contributions to the world, and know he will continue to make many further contributions in his bright future.
It's been an honor to have gotten to know the whole Pritt family through our AP Online classes over many years!
NEW re-schedule date for Washington/Allegheny County testing: THURSDAY, Nov. 8th-- same location!!!
Susan Richman, 10/30/2012
We are so grateful that the wonderful Venice Presbyterian Church in McDonald PA in Washington County (see our 'TESTING SERVICE' link above for directions to the site) is able to host our re-scheduled FALL TESTING DAY next *Thursday*, November 8th. Same time, same location as always. We'll start testing promptly at 9:30am.... so aim to arrive by 9:15am (9:00am if you are planning to 'register at the door' -- just $35 per student), so that we can get start promptly.
I hear that the local homeschool group meets at the church on *Wednesday*, and the (wonderful!) secretary mentioned that the group could probably help in setting up the needed tables in the social hall that afternoon. THANKS in advance for helping out in this way!
Look forward to seeing everyone at this testing site, and hope all of you are safe and dry-- even though the storm was not as terrible as it might have been out here in Western PA, I know this was the right decision to re-schedule.
Please 'spread the word' to your homeschool groups about this NEW testing date! Thanks so much!
Hurricane Sandy-- POSTPONING our Fall Testing set for Tuesday October 30th in Washington County PA!!! More info...
Susan Richman, 10/29/2012
Due to the weather forecast of very strong winds and possibly heavy rain tomorrow morning, and the very real possibility of major power outages in the region, we've now made the decision to POSTPONE our scheduled Fall Testing Day set for Washington County (serving Allegheny County and all surrounding areas also). Testing was scheduled for the Venice Presbyterian Church in McDonald PA (Cecil Township).
We have been in touch with church staff, and are working to set up a suitable NEW DATE for Fall Testing at this same (wonderful!) location. Hopefully by tomorrow or Wednesday (October 31st) we will have a new date set-- my hope is to be able to reschedule for either Wednesday November 7th or Thursday November 8th. We will post here, and email everyone already registered for testing at this site, as well as getting info out on various homeschool email lists just as soon as we have a definite reschedule date.
THANKS for your understanding-- know that our biggest concern is safety and well-being, for you and your children. I also think many children could feel very distracted by the unsettled weather and not be ready to focus on achievement testing.
As always, families are VERY welcome to 'register at the door' for testing-- again, just check back here to find out about the new date.
Praying for everyone's safety in the storm-- and especially for all homeschooling families right in the path of the hurricane.
You can still register online for our FALL TESTING SERVICE.... or just 'register at the door!
Susan Richman, 10/21/2012
Our 'early bird' registration for our TerraNova Achievement Testing is completed now, but you can still register online at the $35 per student rate. OR just 'register at the door' at the test site most convenient for you-- see our full schedule of testing sites at the link above.
Looking forward to seeing you and your kids at one of our testing sites!
Remember-- we can test any level from 3rd grade to 12th grade (NO 1st or 2nd grade testing).
Here's all you need to bring on the testing day: pencils (though we have some if you forget!). We'll supply everything else-- the testing booklet / answer sheet, scratch paper, simple ruler.
It is OPTIONAL to bring a CALCULATOR for your 5th grader or up student-- the test proctor will let your child know when it can be used.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Susan and Howard Richman