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Magazine

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 the teachers knew the material, and not just because they offered accountability that is often so elusive in our own homes.  But AP classes are set up to stretch kids beyond their (and mom's) comfort zone.  That's hard to pull off at home.  You'd have to have an unusually compliant child.  Family dynamics make it tough for us to push but so hard and so far.  We get pushed back.  And then we begin to doubt ourselves when the tears flow and the decibels rise.  Most of us are really great teachers, and we are providing our kids with a superior education and lifestyle, but we really don't know what we might/should expect.  Every year we have a class of one, or two or three classes of -- one.  And every year we’re teaching so many classes for the first time.  Ever.  So it's easy to fall back on the safety net of the pre-planned, grade-level curriculum-- or at least to use it as a reference point when we are building our own classes.

I am a big believer in AP and community college classes for our high school level homeschoolers.  Too often, I think we underestimate the capabilities of our kids (I am guilty of this, particularly in the subjects I view as my kids' weaknesses).  I'm a big believer in starting early on the "traditional course of study" for high school, especially in the areas of their strengths and interests.  This isn't to push them, or stress them out, or have them graduate early.  An early start in areas of strength offers kids the opportunity to move farther into a subject -- but at a traditional pace.  The material is not studied faster, it is just introduced earlier -- so a year's work is still completed in a year.  That's where AP and community college classes come in.  If a science-oriented student starts on a science track that has him or her finishing bio/chem/physics in 8th/9th/10th grade, then there is the opportunity to dive into the AP Bio, advanced (AP) Chem classes and calc-based AP physics classes that they are totally capable of tackling.  It is human nature that we rise to the level of the expectations of those around us.  AP classes expect more, so the kids accomplish more.  And boy, do AP and community college classes give them the tools for success in college!

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Comment by Susan Richman, 2/18/2010:

We also have a direct link to Explore PA History on our righthand sidebar! Hope everyone enjoys this site!


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