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College Admissions-- help is out there as you navigate the process!
Jeanette Webb, 2/26/2010

Jeannette Webb is a longterm homeschooler, whose two children took several of our AP Online courses when in high school at home. I was delighted to see what she is now doing to help other homeschoolers who are looking at competitive college admissions. Her website www.aiminghigherconsultants.com is filled with excellent and inspiring information. Here's the letter that I recently received from Jeanette-- and I hope many of you find her approach and ideas a great help. Though we can all gain much from college admissions guides aimed primarily at traditionally schooled students, it's always especially helpful when advice comes from within the homeschooling network.
 
I would like to introduce myself, although you might remember two members of our family.  My daughter, Natalie Webb, took Dr. Richman's AP Economics class a few years ago and really enjoyed it. She is now a sophomore engineering major at Princeton.  She also took AP Chemistry.  Natalie and my son, Austin, both took AP Biology with Dr. Gross.  Austin graduated with honors from Caltech and is now pursing a Ph.D. in theoretical computer science and math at the University of Washington in Seattle. We recommend your courses in our workshops, in our writing (Austin and I write for Practical Homeschooling magazine) and to our clients.
 
As a homeschooling parent, I found very little help....

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Driver Education Options-- now there's an online driver training course...
Susan Richman, 2/24/2010

Susan Richman helped all four of her kids learn to drive. She is the editor of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers, and serves as a Home Education Program Evaluator for many families in PA. She also leads AP US History online for homeschool students all across the nation.

Many of us have taught our kids how to drive-- and many might agree it's among the scarier things a parent does! I remember wondering why I was suddenly getting 'tension headaches' that first week I was helping our older son Jesse learn to drive-- and then began noticing that involuntary gripping of the dashboard, and my foot ramming the imaginary brake on the passenger's side of the car. Helping our kids learn to drive can be a wonderful bonding time, too-- time to talk, do something real together, and really show your teen you believe they are ready for this adult skill. Along with the challenge of helping our kids with this major life task, most of us are also looking for ways to help trim the upcoming car insurance bill with a new teen driver in the house. We want our kids to become safe drivers-- and we also want to save some money if possible.

There are many ways to get helpful insurance discounts....

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Moving Beyond the Book Report-- and helping your teen get ready for AP English Literature!
Ruth Green, 2/23/2010

Ruth Green has been leading AP English Literature online with PA Homeschoolers for many years. She has five sons, with four graduates and her youngest still homeschooling. She has also taught a literature class with a local homeschool co-op program. Ruth is also a very popular speaker at our summer PHAA High School at Home Conference, speaking on writing, AP English Literature, and how to craft an effective college admissions essay. Do check out the rave reviews on her class at our companion site, wwww.aphomeschoolers.com where we have full info on our AP Online classes.

There are few more familiar icons of middle school than The Book Report. Mothers like to imagine that writing one is the outpouring of enthusiasm that her student experiences from reading a book that is just too good not to share with the world. More often, it is a dreaded assignment that has been given with vague instructions about identifying major characters and summarizing the plot. The musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown humorously captures the dilemma that different personalities have with procrastination, meeting word counts, and staying on topic while writing a book report on Peter Rabbit. Nevertheless, the book report serves a useful function in helping the reader to reflect on what he’s read, and the exercise of reproducing that in writing is step one of expository writing.

By the time a student is high school age, however....

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AP Computer Science-- What this about a 'Case Study'???
Cynthia Lang, 2/22/2010

Cynthia Lang is a homeschool mother of several PHAA graduates, and computer science instructor at various colleges. She is completing her first year of returning to lead AP Computer Science with PA Homeschoolers AP Online, after taking a number of years off while her own children were in high school at home. She is an exceptional teacher, and shares here about a unique aspect of the AP Computer Science course and exam-- the 'case study'. For more info, see the link at the very bottom of the article. Cynthia will also soon be writing an article on how to know if your son or daughter is ready for the challenge of AP Computer Science.   

The Role of the Case Study in AP Computer Science

As you would expect considering the subject matter, the AP Computer Science curriculum changes periodically with trends in the industry. For example, there have been 3 programming languages used in AP Computer Science since 1998: Pascal, C++ and most recently, Java. The last two languages have been object-oriented, rather than procedural, languages. As computers, particularly personal computers, evolved to have graphical user interfaces, the computer programs that produce such user friendly interfaces have become increasingly large and complex. For example, Microsoft Word had 27,000 lines of code in the first version. That’s a lot, but it's now about 2 million! Object-oriented programming languages such as Java use polymorphism, inheritance, and encapsulation to make large programs easier to produce and maintain. This is why object-oriented programming languages have largely superseded procedural languages.  Students who eventually go on to careers in computer science will most likely work in teams on large programs coded in these object-oriented languages. Consequently....

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Writing Club Idea: "What does a homeschooler do on a SNOW DAY?"
Susan Richman, 2/18/2010

Susan Richman has been leading a Homeschoolers Writing Club since her oldest son was 11 (he's now 32!), and has written a book that in part grew out of that experience called Writing from Home (see our online store to order your copy). She has found that the simple format of a regular monthly meeting to share writing with other kids can be amazingly encouraging to students. We'll regularly share Writing Club ideas here, that you can adapt and use with your own kids at home, or in Writing Clubs you start.

As I'm sure has happened with many of you, I've been doing a lot of 'staying at home' with the recent snows in Pennsylvania. And I realized last week that I'd have to cancel my monthly Writing Club meeting here at our farm, as even though the snow had stopped (maybe??), our driveway was barely plowed out enough for us to get in and out. I wouldn't want everyone getting stuck! SO, this month's meeting is being held virtually, with everyone emailing their pieces to all the participants in the group. I also opted to change our assignment, to suit the weather-- and I thought some of your kids might want to post their own pieces on this topic, as 'comments' below. I'll be sharing in the 'comments' section a number of the writings from my Writing Club group-- I know you'll enjoy these!

Our TOPIC is: What do homeschoolers do on a SNOW DAY???? Obviously this is in honor of our amazing weather these past weeks—and you know, this is a question that *many* homeschoolers get asked by curious ‘school kids’… Do homeschoolers take ‘snow days’??? So, I want you to share about what YOU’VE been doing in this snow.

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(This is my grandson David, during his January visit with his family-- what an amazing igloo our son Jesse enjoyed making with his kids!) ....

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Timís Top Ten Tips for Teaching Teen Testosterone
Timothy Anger, 2/18/2010

Timothy Anger, M.S. is a parent, Christian school principal, and homeschool evaluator in the Lehigh Valley. He can be reached through his website, www.lveval.org . I know many parents will be able to identify with what Tim writes about here-- especially moms who just don't quite have a clue about how different their sons can be from their daughters. I think that so often in our society today, being a normal boy is frowned upon and considered a problem-- just when boys need to be doing manly important work and feel appreciated for the new skills and abilities they can be gaining at this point in life. Tim's story reminded me of all the very useful work our two sons did regularly about our small farm growing up-- from milking goats to tapping maple trees, helping fix tractors or computer or roofs, or digging out our septic system the night before 30 little third graders were arriving for achievement testing (and my husband was out of town!). I always had many things to thank my sons for doing-- and this probably helped them maintain a generally positive attitude towards homeschooling in their teen years.  Thanks, Tim, for all the wisdom you share here! 

“I used to enjoy homeschooling my son, but when he turned 13 I suddenly felt like we were in a tug-of-war,” a mother recently confided in me.  I’ve heard similar comments from other parents when their boys hit the teen years....

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Benefits of AP Online and community college classes-- for the whole family
Brigid Thompson, 2/17/2010

Brigid Thompson is a longterm homeschooling mother from North Carolina. Both of her sons have taken AP Online classes with PA Homeschoolers. I recently heard from Bridget went she emailed to share how her older son Kyle was doing in his freshman year of college: “Kyle is about to head back to NC State for his second semester.  First semester was very successful -- he worked hard and played hard, and finished up with a 4.0.  He was talking with another homeschooler just the other day about his high school classes and said that your class [AP US History] was his favorite in high school. I think that is a huge compliment to you, coming from an aerospace engineering type of guy!” Brigid offered to share her thoughts on how beneficial our AP Online classes have been for her sons-- we'll regularly be posting here thoughts from parents on how they have found our courses have contributed to their overall high school at home program. And you'll see that many families combine AP Online classes along with community college classes-- you don't have to choose just one or other!

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I've been very happy with PA Homeschoolers AP Online courses.  Each of the three classes that my older son Kyle took and the two that my younger son Connor took (and is taking) have prepared them better than I would have been able to pull off on my own.  Not just because....

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ExplorePAHistory -- the website, that is!
Susan Richman, 2/16/2010

Susan Richman is co-editor of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers, along with her husband Howard Richman. The Richmans have four grown children, who were all homeschooled K-12 (you can see a family photo in the 'Who We Are' section at the top of this site). Susan also serves as a Home Education Program Evaluator in PA, meeting with well over 100 students each spring. She also leads one of our AP United States History online courses-- and so is especially interested in helping families access the amazing range of history resources available online. Using the info here, you can help your kids be ready for the type of learning they'll experience in Susan's course. 

Here in Pennsylvania, we all have to introduce our kids to the history of our state-- and most of the materials available to do so can be pretty dull. Fourth graders, say, tend to be stuck learning about state symbols (I've never figured out what the Great Dane really has to do with PA, and knowing that the PA state insect is the lady bug doesn't help me learn about why we have this new invasion of ladybugs in the state...). Well, there is hope.

And right now, while most of us are still pretty buried in snow, might be a terrific time to look over a new Internet resource to use for learning about our state's history-- in part because this site will get you planning ahead for some spring field trips to some of Pennsylvania's amazing history museums and sites. And you'll start slowing down for all those blue historical markers you see along so many highways-- you know, those ones you never have time to read before you've zoomed on past.

The site is www.ExplorePaHistory.com -- and the entire comprehensive website, with ideas for K-12, is all free. The site has been developed by a consortium of agencies-- from www.VisitPA.com, to PennDOT, to WITF educational TV, to the PA Historical and Museum Commission, and more.

The site really lends itself to flexible use by homeschooling families-- in fact, I'd guess that we can use this site much more easily and effectively than most schools can....

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Science Labs for homeschoolers and cyberschoolers-- check out Harrisburg University!
Kathy Ireland, 2/15/2010

Kathy Ireland is a longterm homeschooling and cyberschooling parent of two amazing daughters. Kathy has developed an especially positive relationship with Harrisburg University, a relatively new university that is especially interested in preparing students for current careers related to hi-tech fields and the sciences. HU has been very interested in working with homeschool and cyberschool students, including offering lab science classes. Many parents worry about how to 'do' lab sciences at home, without the needed equipment or personal expertise to guide learning-- if that's you, start looking at options like Harrisburg University. If you don't live near to Harrisburg, you might still want to take a look at this information, and share it with a college near to you who might be very interested in offering something similar. These types of programs are generally 'win-win' for the colleges, as this is a viable way to introduce their school to families who might eventually enroll fulltime. We'd be very interested in hearing from other homeschooling parents on how they've handled science lab work-- either at home or through co-op classes or at local colleges. Add your thoughts as a comment!

Last fall Harrisburg University of Science and Technology offered course INSC 051 – Introduction to Lab Sciences I – for the first time.   It’s a prerequisite for class INSC 052 – Introduction to Lab Sciences II - being offered this spring semester.  Both classes are designed specifically for high school students schooled-at-home, whether homeschooled or cyberschooled, and gives them lots of hands-on lab experience. 

 

Both of my kids are taking the class and really love it! ....  

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Valentine's Day Special: Adventure by the Sea, part 6.... The Aftermath
Cassandra Frear, 2/14/2010

Cassandra Frear, homeschool mother of two graduates, and inspirational speaker and writer, concludes with her reflections on all this lovely trip meant. We at Pennsylvania Homeschoolers hope you've treasured your special relationships this week, along with us!
 
We drove home with sand in our shoes. I even had some in my hair.
 
 
While I sipped a cup of coffee and listened to a recording of the Renaissance music from the concert, my husband quietly and deftly maneuvered through evening traffic. At one point, I reached over and rested my hand on his shoulder.

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Valentine's Day Special: Adventure by the Sea, part 5....
Cassandra Frear, 2/12/2010

Cassandra Frear continues sharing her 25th anniversary adventure. If you missed the 'lead ups' just scroll down and you'll find them. I hope you are all now looking forward to Valentine's Day with your special someone! Candlelight Shabbat dinner for two at home for us tonight-- our true 'mini-vacation' each and every week! -- Susan Richman, Editor PA Homeschoolers
  
  
My beloved spake and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
and come away.

For lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

- The Song of Solomon, KJV

The next morning I awoke, and we were still there. My husband was sleeping beside me. I was not dreaming.
I slipped out of our tall, canopy bed and went into the kitchen to make coffee....

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English on the Internet-- with Laurel Tree Tutorials... developed by a homeschool grad!
Rebekah Randolph, 2/12/2010

Mrs. Rebekah Randolph, owner and instructor of Laurel Tree Tutorials, was homeschooled K-12 and graduated with a PHAA diploma. Rebekah then earned her B.A. in English from Hillsdale College, where she graduated summa cum laude and as a member of the honors program. She worked as a teacher’s assistant for Debra Bell and as a writing tutor at Hillsdale before launching her own online English classes in 2006. Since then, she has enjoyed working with homeschooled students all over the United States—and even some abroad! Rebekah lives in Millersville, Pennsylvania with her husband (and their large library).

Laurel Tree Tutorials was created to meet a marked need in the homeschooling community: too few writing classes. As I interacted with homeschooled high school students, I realized the weakness of their composition skills and how much they were missing as a result. No matter what you choose as your career, whether businessman or engineer or homemaker, you will probably need to write. In this “Information Age,” the ability to communicate clearly is a huge advantage in college, in the workplace, and at home.

So in 2006 , I started offering online composition classes for homeschooled high schoolers. My students came from all over the country, thanks to the flexibility of online learning. Word spread about Laurel Tree Tutorials and I soon expanded my course list, adding literature to writing and reaching out to younger students as well. I now offer a variety of writing and literature classes for grades 6-12....

 

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Valentine's Day Special: Adventure by the Sea, part 4....
Cassandra Frear, 2/11/2010

Cassandra Frear is a homeschool mother of two graduates, and an inspirational writer and speaker, leading two wonderful online blog sites to offer support and encouragement to women. She has been a keynote speaker two times at our PHAA High School at Home summer conference, and her husband has been a keynote speaker at the PHAA graduation ceremony where their older son graduated.
After turning my face to the sunshine, I found the sunshine waiting for me, tumbling over the hills and melting snow, bouncing off the dripping icicles on mountain ravines. It snuggled against my storm-driven soul and seemed like a happiness too good to be real.
But it was.
It was my life. For there I was, driving to a place of dreams, as calmly and matter-of-factly as I run my weekly errands. We drove quietly out of the ice and snow and windy ledges of bare hardwoods into rolling fields and pines....

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Valentine's Day Special: Staying Connected
Kurtz Cockley, 2/11/2010

Kurtz Cockley is a homeschooling father of two wonderful kids, and a marriage and family counselor at the Alpha Center in Landisburg PA. Some longtime readers may remember our special issue of our print newsletter honoring the dad's important role in homeschooling-- Kurtz's wife Pamela wrote a wonderful piece about what a sport her husband was to take part enthusiastically in their special homeschooling projects (including being willing to dress up in a toga, if required, for a simulated Roman feast!)

It’s getting close to Valentine’s Day.  Time to think about relationship, togetherness, love… all of that warm fuzzy stuff.  The problem is that a lot of folks, after spending more than six months together, just don’t feel very warm and fuzzy any more.    Most humans are just pretty difficult to deal with.  Being one (a human, that is), I can attest to some of this difficulty, and my wife and children could give you the details.  Since I am also a marriage-and-family therapist, however, I also spend time thinking about and working on and finding remedies and prescriptions for dealing with our innately cantankerous selves. Here are some basic nuts and bolts that can really be transformational if you take the time to practice, practice, practice. 

The first foundational piece is this:  It is not good for man to be alone.  (Check out Genesis on this).... 

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The Fabric of Life-- our homeschooling journey and beyond....
Sally Fehrs, 2/10/2010

Sally Fehrs is a longtime homeschooling mother from Pennsylvania, who's found a moment to reflect on the meaning of this journey when one of her children meets a new milestone in life. She has had two daughters graduate through PHAA (Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency) and one son still in high school at home.

                               

     Certain moments in our life journey are cause for reflection more than others.... the birth of a baby, death of a beloved family member, or a move to a new location or home suggest a few.  These occasions provide us an opportunity to take stock of where we have been and possibly where we are headed.  Recently in the life of our family we have experienced such a season of pausing and remembering.

      For our family, it came in the form of our daughter graduating from college in mid December and then getting married the first weekend in January of this year...two wonderful events marking the ending of one phase of life and the embracing of an entirely new journey with the other.  There is a sense of the surreal when confronted with change of this magnitude because you know that you are experiencing life at the crossroads.  Taking the time to step back and reflect a bit before going on again with “business as usual” can be a good and comforting decision.... 

 

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Valentine's Day Special: Staying in Love Even While Homeschooling
Bonnie Gonzales, 2/9/2010

Bonnie Gonzalez is a homeschooling mother of three, the teacher for one of our AP Psychology online classes, and an experienced longterm family and marriage counselor. You'll be hearing from her soon about the research projects her online AP students have completed as part of their course work, and where to find helpful resources for psychology study.

It’s 6:30 in the morning.  The alarm goes off.  Your feet hit the floor and ever so briefly you look back at your husband who is still curled up under the covers.  You think to yourself, ‘wouldn’t it be nice just to spend a few minutes of cuddling time with him?’

But, alas, you have a full day ahead of you.  The kids are already up eating breakfast, your lesson plans for the day are still waiting for their final touches, or rather they haven’t been done at all, and you haven’t graded the math papers from yesterday.  So, off you go to a day of English, math, social studies, history and science.  And, as if that wasn’t a full meal, you sprinkle it with volleyball practice, a dentist appointment – or two – and your weekly co-op.  Perhaps you will have time for your husband later, after dinner.  It might happen, but it’s not likely.

Does this sound like you?  The harried homeschooler always thinking of the kids, rarely thinking of your marriage.  Well, you're not alone.  As a marriage and family counselor and a homeschooling mom of 14 years, I can definitely tell you – you are not alone....

 

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Valentine's Day Special: Adventure by the Sea, part 3...
Cassandra Frear, 2/9/2010

Cassandra Frear continues her story of her 25th anniversary trip with her husband... even though times were rough, and the future was uncertain. Cassandra is a homeschooling mother of two graduates, and an inspirational speaker and writer and mentor. Do check her website link on our side bar for 'Apple Pie for Moms.'  

Behold, we know not anything;

I can but trust
that good shall fall

At last -- far off --
at last to all,

And every winter
change to spring.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson


I could be sad.
Over disappointments, over the way life has stalled, over our current situation. I could despair over not having more, not being more. I could look at how much we might have been able to do at another time. I could compare our present reality to the ideal.
Or I could just be grateful.
I've wanted to go to this place on our anniversary for years. Here we are, in the midst of hard times, actually doing it. Amazing.
I could kneel down in awe. Who can fathom the ways of God?....

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Peace of Mind for You and Your Spouse: Appoint Guardians for Your Children
Jake LaForet, 2/8/2010

Jake LaForet is a PHAA (PA Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency) graduate from 1996, now working as a lawyer in Pennsylvania-- and married to another PHAA graduate, too! I first knew Jake when he was a first-year homeschooler and I had the honor to serve as his end-of-year evaluator-- I could see right away that he was a very gifted young writer and encouraged him to submit several works for my early book Writing from Home: a Portfolio of Homeschooled Student Writing. I was delighted to hear of his new work reaching out to homeschooling families in PA with his specialized services, and I knew these perspectives would be very useful for all homeschooling parents to hear-- Susan Richman, Editor

“LaForet, Jake!” the Master Sergeant barked after a brief consultation with his clipboard. His eyes swept the seated assembly of weary troops before locking onto me as I stood and laboriously made my way through the tangled thicket of plastic chairs, bodies, equipment, and rucksacks. With a satisfied grunt, his eyes dropped back to his clipboard in search of the next name on the combat deployment list.

With a stagger, I disengaged myself from the last row of chairs and walked briskly across the hangar floor towards the first station in the Air Force mobility processing line. Each station checked to ensure I was ready to deploy: Finances checked my pay status, the Military Personal Flight checked my orders, security clearance, and dog tags, while Medical checked my shot record and medical clearances. The Wing Chaplain pressed a pocket-sized camouflage Bible into my hand and offered a few words of encouragement.

“Do you have a will?” one of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers asked....

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Valentine's Day Special... "Adventure by the Sea" ... part 2
Cassandra Frear, 2/5/2010

Cassandra Frear continues her thoughts on her 25th anniversary trip with her husband. We hope you can take a special moment today with your spouse-- a mini-vacation of a time of togetherness right at home (cozy inside, with the snow falling down on all of us tonight!). 

Adventure by the Sea: Cold Feet.... 

There is a point in the preparations for any trip where I get cold feet. It happens after my first excitement cools and before we pull out of the driveway. Getting ready is always more work than I thought it would be. And it makes me tired. That's when the trouble starts.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," crept into my thoughts two days later. I felt too old and saggy for an adventure. My clothes didn't quite fit. I didn't like the way I looked. I didn't have anything suitable to wear. How did my wardrobe get in this condition?

 


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Homeschoolers and Community Service-- the Hands and Feet Ministry, in central PA
Erika Norton, 2/5/2010

Erika Norton homeschooled her four children through high school graduation with PHAA (Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency)-- that's 20 years of homeschooling! She wrote this article originally for our print publication, in fall of 2008 (issue #104), which focused on all the many ways that homeschoolers were finding to give back to their wider communities. Many of the ideas tie in well with Dr. Gary Welton's research on socialization of homeschoolers and their development as good and caring people. I hope this wonderful idea spreads to other homeschoolers! In the comments section, do share what *your* homeschooling family has done to encourage meaningful community service. 

 

Serving as the Hands and Feet of Christ

The Hands and Feet Ministry is a group of mostly teens and some adults who make weekly visits to a high-rise income- based government -subsidized apartment building in Hershey, PA, called The Hershey Plaza.

This building is home to mostly widows, some couples, and the disabled. There are 200 apartments and everyone is attempting to live independently. This is where we come in. We visit for about an hour and offer to do anything that they are unable to do; clean the bathroom, wash the floors, vacuum, flip the bed mattress, wash windows, take out the trash, sweep the balcony, etc. This all sounds so simple, but it has had an amazing effect on both the elderly and the teens.

How did all this get started? Seven years ago as part of a home schooling co-op one of the teens, an eleventh grader, specifically asked for a ministry class. We were offering all sorts of fun and academic classes, but she remembered having ministry as a young child and asked again that we would provide a class for the older students....

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Valentine's Day Special... "Adventure by the Sea" ... part 1
Cassandra Frear, 2/4/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  Welcome to our first installment in our "Valentine's Day Special", our way of reminding all homeschooling couples to remember to value their relationship. In the midst of math manipulatives (all over the diningroom table), co-op classes (taking lots of evening planning time from mom), and science experiments (that fuzzy stuff at the back of the fridge??), we still need to also make special time for our life partner and spouse. We'll have a variety of postings-- one a day 'extra' in addition to our other regular article of the day. This opening entry is from Cassandra Frear, (see link to her uplifting blogsite http://www.applepieforhomeschools.com ) about a very special 25th anniversary trip she recently took with her husband. There are ideas for you to respond to at the end, too-- we look forward to your thoughts! Cassandra's story will continue throughout this time leading up to Valentine's Day-- so check back each day to get the next 'installment'! We'll also have some pieces from homeschooling parents about ways to nourish our relationship with our husband or wife. Happy Valentine's Day!

 

The sky is battleship gray. The wind thrashes the trees. I am watching the trees bend over on their sides and spring back, all the time trembling and flapping their arms. It's hard to believe that it's been a full week since we left for our anniversary trip. There, all was sun and sparkling sea and birdsong and gardens being prepared for spring. Since we've been back, the mountains have been wrapped in low clouds and steely sheets of rain.

 

Last night, driving home after buying groceries, I almost missed two turns. I was traveling at 10 mph. That's how thick the fog has been.

 

It was a bold move for me to take the trip, given our situation. I almost didn't....

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First Peg, for Best Learning
Rachel Conner, 2/4/2010

Rachel Johnston Conner was an early homeschool graduate (PHAA 1995), a journalist, and now a homeschool teacher with her own children. Rachel is also teaching writing at a homeschool co-op program in her area. Several of Rachel's early writings are published in my anthology of homeschooled children's writing, Writing from Home (see our online store)including her insightful paper on the French and Indian War (at the age of 12, Rachel was playing fife in a reenactment group in Pittsburgh) and an amazing historical fiction story based on her knowledge of that time. Rachel was also one of the very first homeschoolers we knew who had successfully taken an AP exam-- and one of her older sisters, Ruth Johnston, taught AP English Literature for many years in our AP Online program. Another older sister is Ellen McHenry-- see the link to her amazing site Basement Workshop on our sidebar. As you read Rachel's thoughts on young children's learning, I think you'll also be able to translate this core idea to older children, and even to yourself-- we all learn in this way.    

So many times being a good teacher is as simple as knowing where to start. The average “American on the street” can read a book just fine, but most of them would be at a loss (and rather intimidated) to know where to start to teach someone else to read.

A good teacher isn’t born knowing where to start, either. I remember wanting to teach my child to read, but wondering how I could start out. Thankfully I found some hints to get me going... a good teacher learns along the way! And a good teacher uses the tips and tricks found in books, from friends, from other educational methods ... and creates knowledge for the students step-by-step.

One of my observations about homeschooling so far is this: Kids need a “first peg” to hang their hat on, when it comes to learning a new field of knowledge. Then they need time to learn that “first peg” well -- a lot of time, like six months or a year. After they have had time to learn the first peg and then they have rehearsed the first peg and it has become solid knowledge, then they are ready for a few more “pegs” on their mental peg boards....

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New Research on Homeschoolers and Socialization
Dr. Gary Welton, 2/3/2010

Gary Welton is both a homeschool father, the teacher of one of our AP Psychology classes online, and a professor of psychology at Grove City College. He's been doing research into aspects of socialization and the homeschooling experience, and shares some of his team's findings in this article. 

Socialization as a Religious Phenomenon

Gary L. Welton
Center for Research on Positive Youth Development
At Grove City College

            Every home schooling parent has been asked the S-Question: “What about socialization?” The implications (real or imagined) of the question are less than flattering:

  • Students who attend schools outside the home are socialized better because they spend so much time with their immature peers, whereas students who attend school within the home are poorly socialized because they spend so much time with their mature parents.
  • Home school families do not interact with one another.
  • Socialization that occurs on the soccer field, during debate rounds, and in church doesn’t count (or is somehow inferior).
  • Students who attend school outside the home are always well socialized.
  • Your kids are so weird.

I would like to put the S-Question to rest by summarizing research I conducted along with my colleagues....

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Comments: 2


So how do you find a school that will give your homeschooler an AP Exam, anyway??
Carole Matheny, 2/2/2010

Carole Matheny is both a homeschooling mother, and the dedicated and energetic teacher for our AP Statistics online class. So she's had experience herself in doing the 'legwork' to find a suitable location for her son to take his Advanced Placement exams each May-- homeschoolers must take these exams at a school setting, and as you'll see, this can take some perseverance! Do know that all homeschoolers taking our AP Online classes have been able to find locations for their exams-- and that we provide info for parents on how to go about this task. This article will give you insight into all that might be involved!  

 

I picked up the phone and dialed the nearby private college-prep school  where my son took his AP test the previous spring.  Aware that last year’s AP Coordinator had retired, and since I didn’t know  the new AP Coordinator, I started with a general request: “Hello, may I please speak with the AP Coordinator.” It was that time of the year, late-January and time to call the local school to schedule my son’s four AP exams. After a few introductory remarks I was surprised to hear the coordinator state that the school was not planning to administer AP tests to their own students or outsiders.

Next I contacted my local public school and asked for the AP Coordinator. Knowing they offered AP classes in the subjects my son needed for AP tests I felt confident they would at least be giving the tests he needed. After a few pleasant exchanges the AP Coordinator stated: “I’m new here but I know that if I permit a homeschooler to test with our kids, I’ll get my hands slapped.” ....

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Comments: 2


Our family's experiences with AP Online with PA Homeschoolers-- and with other course providers
Brita Kilgore, 2/1/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: We plan to post articles regularly from parents whose teens have taken part in our extensive AP (Advanced Placement) online courses-- I know that families new to the high school years and to AP will really appreciate this personal look at how these classes operate, and what the benefits can be for both students and parents. So, here is our first parent's look, from Brita Kilgore, who will also be sharing in future articles about some of the excellent math contests and competitions available for students (homeschoolers always welcome!), and more: 

            When I began homeschooling my young sons, I had no trouble finding books, curriculum, and resources for them.  Although I often spent a lot of time searching, I could usually find exactly what I wanted (or at least something easily modifiable).  I was an avid user of catalogs, the internet, and homeschool fairs to preview and locate resources.  As my older son approached the high school years, however, I noticed that the number of resources was dwindling.  I began to worry because his high school courses had to serve the dual purpose of representing him on his college transcript and preparing him for college.  I needed to find material that was both rigorous and interesting that allowed my son to grow as a person and demonstrate his excellence as a student.  Luckily, I didn't have to search to hard to find an excellent choice: the PA Homeschoolers AP Online Classes....

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