In case you are still on the fence about your children’s education for the 2020-2021 term …

I have tons of resources inside all of the pages right here that can help you. In addition, as you can see from last week’s blog post below, I also have a FB page where I’ve put lots of neat ideas that ranged from figuring out what could work for you to navigating your state’s homeschool law. Folded into all of that, there were posts with freebies, posts discussing different kinds of homeschooling, and more. For example, this past week has been all about high school things. For the next two weeks or so, we’ll delve into virtual learning and how education may or may not change in the future. A few of the upcoming posts contain links to articles that are geared to those in the workforce, but could be considered in the world of education as well. Once tutoring begins in earnest again (on the 15th), those FB postings will only happen once a day. I can’t wait to share more goodies with you!
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Find more content on my FB page!

This summer, I’ve been getting the hang of posting timely articles on my business Facebook page. I’ve discussed all sorts of things there. What’s more is that I made it a goal to post each day–not only that, I did it! That is big! Usually I have been far too busy to post a variety of things over there–or here for that matter. Head over to see what you may have missed this summer:

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It’s Affidavit Time!

Don’t forget … If you are a returning homeschool family, the new affidavit and objectives for your kids are due no later than August 1st, which is a Saturday this year. (Please make a copy of anything you mail to the district … and send it certified return receipt request! Check to see if your district is accepting these papers via email. Mine is. What a boon!)

Also, remember that if you are adding younger siblings to the same affidavit as your returning students, the new compulsory attendance change goes into effect for this term as well. This means that if a younger sibling will begin homeschooling this term, and he or she turns 6 by the first few days of when your local school begins holding sessions, that child needs an affidavit and objectives. You could wait to put that child on his or her own affidavit and not send it in with the other kids, but that seems like too much bother. Yes, it’s legal to wait until the third day of school to send that child’s affidavit in, but who wants to make a special trip just to be “right”?? Are you wondering about that “third day of school” thing? That has to do with when a child is considered truant. So, if there are more than three unexplained absences, you can be guilty of that. Who needs that either?! If your child turns 6 later in the school term, you really ought to ask your chosen evaluator or at your local school as to what they prefer you to do. After all, when a child misses the cut off date, they can begin the following year. You can do that too. You don’t have to begin homeschooling with Kindergarten. Begin with what your child can do. After all, grade levels have no real usefulness in the homeschool environment! (See my slides about that topic!)

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Myth Busting!

On Monday night I did a FB Live for a homeschool support group. While I cannot share the link to the actual speech, I thought you might like to check out my slides. I think you will be interested in learning a bit about where grade levels came from and why they are not particularly useful in the homeschool. Psst, I also debunked the myth of being “behind!”


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If you need readers …

… for your dyslexic or emergent reader, look no further. Reading for All Learners has made their readers available online for free until the world gets back to normal. There are TONS of readers available at this site! Many thanks to these folks!

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Governor Wolf Signed!

Updated: PA Act 13

What does this mean for you?

Graduating Seniors should still have an evaluation so that their credits, attendance, and transcripts can be finalized. For my clients, this will take place via Zoom with the hard copies of the PDE diploma and the transcript being sent to you via mail. As always, parents are encouraged to purchase a “pretty” diploma! Please do remember to celebrate with your graduate!

Parents of students in Grades 7-11 should at least plan to have a discussion so that we can tabulate credits and keep track of where your child is as far as their overall graduation requirements since these will still need to be met in the future. If you hold on to all the paperwork, we can do this at any time. If you like, however, we can do this via Zoom this evaluation season. Paperwork will not be sent to the school district since that is part of what has been waived for this term.

Parents of students in Grades K-6 really don’t have to do anything. If you want, you can do an online test if this is one of your testing years. That’s right, testing in grades 3, 5, and 8 has been waived, so you don’t really have to do it. If you do elect to test anyway, the results would not need to be seen by anyone–not even me. Although the computerized versions of these tests serve as the proctor, if you were to obtain a paper test, you could serve as proctor yourself this term. If you really are worried about overall progress, you can see how things go with this pandemic and move your child’s testing to the fall, thus putting it over to next term. I wouldn’t worry overly about testing, though!

The 180 Days (or 900/990 Hours) requirement for this term has been completely waived. There is no need to continue to count either hours or days. Certainly, learning will continue during this unprecedented time, but your need to keep track of samples, attendance, or a contemporaneous log have all been waived!

Evaluations have been waived. Except for the above reasons, you really don’t need to have an evaluation this year. If you want to still meet via Zoom, we can do so. No paperwork will be sent to the school districts to close out the 2019-2020 term, however.

The only thing that has not yet been addressed is the August 1 filing deadline of next term’s affidavits and objectives. Since we cannot do distance notarization at this time in Pennsylvania, obtaining a notarization may prove difficult. Don’t forget, the change to the Compulsory Age goes into effect for the 2020-2021 school term, so if your child is 6, you will need to begin to comply with our state’s regulations.

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SB 751

As many of you are aware, SB 751 passed both the House and the Senate. It now awaits signing by Governor Wolf. I’ll keep you apprised.

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So much for “more tomorrow” ….

I keep restarting this post. I just realized it’s been a whole week since I logged into this site and gave you another good read. I held Junior Book Club via Zoom on Friday, which was interesting–not because of using the platform, which I’ve been using all along this year for the older kids, but rather because someone completely new chose to spend time with me that afternoon. This mom and her two kids had never come to book club before, so the format of the discussion was new to them. You see, I don’t really talk about the book’s details as if they are trivia questions. Instead, I’m more interested in getting kids looking at the deeper things in book, the things that you find only when you read between the lines.

Everything you read has a stated or an implied main idea, but beyond that, there are also the things that the author isn’t coming out and stating explicitly, but rather you gather from the clues throughout the book. It’s as if there’s a formula at work: Story x is about Theme y because of Evidence z. In thee story we discussed on Friday, Shakespeare’s Secret, we learned that there was more than one mystery to solve. Not only did we want to find out what happened to the jewel, we also wanted to learn about the importance of friends and family. Loss was a theme in this story. Many, maybe even all, of the characters experienced loss in one sense or another. What we are trying to do in book club is figure out why the author chose to write about that, what she was trying to teach her readers. After all, authors make specific choices when they write. Those specific choices are made for specific reasons. As you read your next book, think about the deeper things that the author is trying to tell you. I have to sign off now because it’s time for GUM class. TTFN (That’s a promise I get keep!)

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Another good read …

Have you ever heard of the book Everything on a Waffle (Horvath)? What a fun story! What lends this one to being great for new homeschoolers is that after each chapter, the author provides an interesting recipe. I can’t recommend the one that the kid in the story says tastes like mothballs, but all the other ones sounded rather neat. If you can get to the store, or have the ingredients on hand, you could try whipping up a bunch of these items. This is a story about family and about perseverance, which is so helpful at a time like this. There’s a survival aspect, too.

If you think that textbooks might help you as you work with your child, check out the CK-12 website. They have “flexbooks” for just about every subject area. You can even go with grade levels if you like, so these texts will be similar to what you are used to thinking of when you think of “school.”

Another area that might be really helpful to work with your student is word problems. Yes, word problems. As someone who teaches reading and writing, I can definitely see the need for more practice in this area. One great old text for this is Ray’s Practical Arithmetic. You can use Ray’s Primary or Ray’s Intellectual with elementary kids. What’s great about the entire Ray’s series is that it is extremely heavy on word problems. The downside to using these books is that (1) you really do have to write the problems out on paper and (2) many of the problems are very dated, using nomenclature from the late 1800s when the books were popular. So, even though most of don’t figure out how many hogsheads we need of a particular commodity, and we don’t pay 11 cents per yard for fabric anymore, we can use the principles and problems in the book to practice those math facts in a deeper way. You can find free digital copies of Ray’s at Internet Archive. Try this link. Be sure to follow the “other people downloaded” links to reach the answer key and the test examples if you want to use those books with this one.

More tomorrow!

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Are you new to learning at home?

If you are homeschooling due to your child’s school being closed, you may find some good stuff here on these pages. You can skip right past the top half of the “Taking the Leap” page under the “Getting Started” tab with all the legalities since you are just going to be home for a short time. Reading the bottom of that page is a good idea, though, because much of what homeschooling really IS looks very different from doing packets of worksheets or even doing “school at home.” While some homeschoolers do use worksheets and a few do indeed try to recreate the school environment in their own homes, most homeschoolers eventually come to realize that this is more of a lifestyle than anything else.

Do you know how many dieting experts say that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is a following a healthy lifestyle rather than a strict diet? Well, the same can be said of homeschooling. Because it takes into account the natural ebb and flow of the day, the inclinations of each student, and the family situation, homeschooling is much more successful when you relax.

One of the first things I counsel new homeschoolers to do is to pick a fun book to read aloud that everyone in the family can enjoy. There are so very many available. If you don’t like to read aloud, Audible can be a boon. On the other hand, this can be a great time to learn to like reading aloud–and a great time to hone everyone’s reading skills! Recently, my family and I enjoyed Fish in a Tree (Lynda Mullaly Hunt). What a great story! I enjoyed it so much that I am going to have my high schoolers discuss it next year in book club. If you are having a hard time finding a good book, try this site, which has 1000 good ones.

Once you find a great book to read, stretch the story with other learning. In other words, use the book as a springboard to other learning. By way of example, in Fish in a Tree, the new teacher provided some puzzle boxes for the kids to figure out. Friendship bracelets are mentioned, too. Ally’s bother is a mechanical whiz and at one point, he rigs up a manual windshield wiper system. You could try to recreate any of the things that take place in the story. Every book has contains some tangential ideas that could work as educational endeavors.

There is no need to panic while your kids are not in school. Learning will indeed take place–even without worksheets! If you HAVE to do the worksheets to get credit, well, then you have to do them, but you can certainly engage in some real learning, too. The important thing is stay calm while you are home. Who knows, you may even enjoy it!

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