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Homeschool Day October 15, 2010, at Moraine State Park -- for ages 10-17... Western PA
Natalie Smith, 9/30/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It's always great to see more and more public locations in Pennsylvania offering special homeschool classes on a wide range of topics-- the arts, nature studies, history, fitness, health & safety, science, and much more. Here's an option for those of you in Western PA, at Moraine State Park just west of Butler PA (near to I-79). Even if you don't attend this wonderful day of outdoor activities, you might want to check out this page about the history of the park area http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/moraine/moraine_history.aspx -- quite fascinating material on the geology of the area (you'll learn what a glacial 'moraine' is!), the mining that took place there, and how the land was finally reclaimed in the mid-20th century to become the lovely 16725 acre park area it is today. Consider learning about the history and geography of the region as part of your yearly 'PA History' studies! Moraine State Park has so many outdoor activities possible-- there is boating, hiking, bike trails, swimming, an environmental education center, wildlife watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, picnicking at shelters, cabin and camping areas, hunting (in certain areas only!), ice-fishing, and more.  AND there are special homeschooling classes, too! The more homeschoolers support places that offer homeschool (and cyber-school) special classes, the more offerings will become available-- hope you enjoy this one!

Outdoor Skills Day for Home- & Cyber- School Students!

Students ages 10 - 17 are invited to spend the day, 10/15/10, at Moraine State Park learning survival skills, woodcraft, even nature exploration by kayak (weather permitting).  Meet at 10:00 am at Pavilion 7 in the McDanel's Area, North Shore, Moraine State Park. Programs run until 2:00 pm. Reservations are required...


Comments: 16

Testing Questions-- what if my child doesn't do well??? what then??
Susan Richman, 9/22/2010

Susan Richman is the longtime editor of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers, and the mom of four now-grown homeschoolers, and grandma of four. She's worked as an evaluator since the very first year of the PA homeschool law in 1988, working with a wide range of homeschooling families with all types of approaches to learning. She's been testing 3rd graders in small group situations since 1988, and has talked with countless parents about their child's reactions to testing. She also leads a very popular AP US History online course with homeschoolers across the nation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of PHAA, the PA Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency.

As our PA Homeschoolers Fall Testing Service is gearing up for mid-October through mid-November, I'm starting to get more questions from homeschool moms about what to expect, and how to prepare their children. One question came up today on what to do if a child scores poorly-- especially a child who may indeed be a bit behind typical grade level expectations. Will families have to be braced for 'trouble' from their school districts? Will they be in danger of not being allowed to continue homeschooling? What have other parents in this situation found in the many years of the current homeschool law? I'll aim to answer all these questions here-- and I'd love to hear comments from families facing this issue, sharing what you've experienced.

First, yes, some homeschooled children do not fare well on formal academic testing. I know, I know.... we've all seen the studies of how very *well* homeschool kids tend to do compared to students in public schools-- and our results from our large testing service also back up these general statistics. BUT that doesn't mean that all homeschool kids ace achievement tests. My previous articles on thinking about standardized testing (see our archive) talk about the range of reasons why a particular child might not do well on a particular test on a particular day. All that said, some kids just will *always* find it very challenging to take these tests-- and some kids are indeed working at a slower pace than the norm. Some may have some learning deficits or difficulties or challenges that make typical studies daunting, to say the least. Some may have true difficulty in learning to read, making these types of reading-dependent tests almost impossible....


Comments: 16

Writing Club Ideas for the New School Year....
Susan Richman, 9/20/2010

The Writing Club that I've been leading for over 20 years has just started up again for this school year-- and so I'm excited to get you thinking about the benefits of having your kids involved in a group that meets regularly to share and enjoy one another's writings. It doesn't take too much to organize an effective homeschool Writing Club:

  • Have a place to meet -- could be your home, around the diningroom table, a co-op program location, a local church or synagogue friendly to homeschooling families, a library with a community room you could use, or some other suitable location. 
  • a core group of kids to invite-- hopefully including at least 2 who are already kids who love to write. I've found over the years of leading our group that everyone will rise to meet the level of your top writers-- and so it's a great help to have some kids who already write with real voice and enjoyment and energy.
  • Gather together ideas for engaging writing topics that would be fun for the kids to do-- hopefully for kids of a variety of ages, as you'll probably have quite a few siblings spanning a wide age range. I'll help with that here-- every few weeks I'll post one of my back Writing Club assignments here on our online magazine, to give you ideas. I also welcome any other Writing Club groups to send on to me via email (richmans@pahomeschoolers.com) their ideas they've developed for their groups-- and feel very welcome to also forward on a few great sample responses to that assignment....


Comments: 10

Homeschool Grad / Journalist offering Writing Classes in Western PA
Heather Roth, 9/17/2010

It's always wonderful to hear from homeschool graduates who are now looking to find ways to help younger homeschoolers! Welcome to Pennsylvania, Heather-- and I'm sure many homeschoolers will benefit from your help with writing! -- Susan Richman, Editor Pennsylvania Homeschoolers.
My name is Heather Roth, and I'm a recent transplant into Western Pennsylvania. As a homeschool graduate and a professional writer (I'm a reporter at The Indiana Gazette), I'm interested in connecting with area homeschool groups in the Indiana or Armstrong County region to provide writing workshops, classes or one-on-one tuturial sessions.
I've got a lot of different ideas and writing plans, but can adjust to fit the needs of your families. As the product of homeschooling (K-12) and the oldest of a large family, I understand that writing is incredibly teaching intensive and some days there just isn't enough time to really focus on grading and editing and outlines and learning to use a thesaurus. But the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively through writing is vital to a young adult seeking entry into college or a career....


Comments: 21

When and What AP Calculus Course Should My Child Take?
Susan Gilleran, 9/10/2010

Susan Gilleran has been leading our AP Calculus class for a number of years now with PA Homeschoolers AP Online program, and has expanded her offerings now to both the AB Calculus course (equivalent to a 1st semester college calculus course), and the BC Calculus course (equivalent to a full year, 1st and 2nd semester, college calculus sequence). We've been so very pleased with her dedication to her students, and her ready ability to help students really gain the self-discipline and steady work habits needed to succeed in these challenging courses. She also works to help students gain greater appreciation for the whole field of mathematics study, and uses a broad range of Internet resources to help in this enrichment work. We've also been so pleased to see how many homeschoolers are now setting their sights high and aiming for this level of challenge-- and this article will help you decide when your student will be ready for AP Calculus. Keep posted for Susan's next article too, which will share in an engaging look at what life is like for an AP Calculus online student.


The answers to when and what AP Calculus course to take are combinations of factors. When is a matter of when your child is ready for algebra which is often a matter of maturity as well as intellect. They have to have had four years of traditional high school math classes to qualify for AP Calculus - Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus. So you’ve got to fit those classes in before taking either the AB or BC course.

Once your child gets to high school they may have a choice as to what year they take AP Calculus....


Comments: 2

Homeschool Day at Historic Pottsgrove Manor (Pottstown PA)-- Friday Sept 24th, 10am to 3pm
Lynn Symborski, Museum Educator, 9/7/2010

Lynn Symborski is the Museum Educator for Pottsgrove Manor, the restored home of John Potts, colonial ironmaker in the region (think: "The Andrew Carnegie of the mid-18th century!"). It's always wonderful to see so many of Pennsylvania's historic sites and museums offering special homeschool days where families can help their children learn in hands-on and engaging ways about life in our state in earlier days. Before attending this excellent event, I'd suggest families also check out the fine description of this site and its importance at the Explore PA History website: http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=910 . Do remember that always one of the best ways to learn about PA history is by active visits to historical sites-- and you'll usually find terrific books and resources for further study back home in the gift shop, too. Hope you all show your support for this first Homeschool Day at Pottsgrove Manor!

Greetings from Pottsgrove Manor!

As one of the premier historic sites of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Pottsgrove Manor has been interpreting 18th century history to the public since 1952. While Pottsgrove Manor has offered public and educational programs for many years, we have recognized the necessity of meeting the needs of the growing homeschool audience. This September, with this special weekday program, we hope to provide an opportunity for non-traditional educators to bring their students for a hands-on discovery experience of Pennsylvania history and 18th century family life.

Pottsgrove Manor

Homeschool Day at Pottsgrove Manor

Pottstown, Pennsylvania — On Friday, September 24th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., bring your homeschoolers out to the Manor for a fun-filled and educational field trip that will let them explore the skills, trades, and pastimes of the 18th century....


Comments: 4


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