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Everything You Need to Know About PA Virtual Charter School

A step by step guide to help new families be successful in cyber education

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Starting the new school year can be an adjustment for any family. Getting students out of summer mode and into “school mode” can take a few days or sometimes weeks. For families making the jump to cyber education, there is often a transition period, especially for those who have just enrolled your first child into the world of virtual education. Let’s take a look at some important things to know before the first day:


Understanding Cyber Education

You want to enroll in cyber school – but what are you getting yourself into? Cyber school is NOT where a student sits in front of a computer alone in the house all day. At PA Virtual, Learning Coaches (LC) play a major part in the success of a child’s education. The role of LC is usually filled by the parent or guardian who is home. The LC’s responsibilities include working with their student to monitoring and making schedules, keeping up with attendance and assignments and communicating with teachers.

PA Virtual uses the rigorous K12, Inc. curriculum. Many classes allow for interactive or independent study sessions, and class recordings can be re-watched at any time.

 

What makes PA Virtual unique?

There are lots of cyber options in Pennsylvania, and each has unique offerings for its students. The PA Virtual Diamond Model relies on four main support structures with the student at the center: parent involvement, academics, curriculum & technology, and family support.

Most students take classes synchronously – connected through the computer at the same time as their classmates. However, for those that need additional flexibility, asynchronous classes are also an option for students to work independently.

From a social standpoint, PA Virtual boasts more outings and opportunities for interaction than most other cyber schools. Eight regionally based Family Support Coordinators (FSC’s) are responsible for organizing monthly local events, providing additional support for families, and connecting those who may have similar needs or experiences. Many outings include educational or community service components that can be logged as classroom hours in certain subjects.


Attending Orientation

Even if your child is a computer whiz, there are still many benefits to attending orientation. This year orientation for new families will take place starting August 28, giving students a full week to acclimate to the PA Virtual systems before classes start. Families who enroll after the official start of the year will have access to the same high quality interactive orientation materials. Orientation teachers will also work with new families for the duration of their first year with the school.

During orientation, parents will learn how to set up their LC email account, which serves as the most important communication tool for families. It will also familiarize families with the online platforms and student systems used by PA Virtual to log into classrooms, track attendance and check grades. Lastly, families will get to meet the Family Support Coordinator in their region – this is the person responsible for connecting families, providing additional resources, and organizing local social outings for students.


Creating Your Classroom

PA Virtual Learning Coaches are more than just a liaison between student and teacher. You are the classroom manager, the cafeteria staff, and the recess monitor. Setting up your child for success in the virtual environment means creating a space in your home that is conducive to learning. Staying away from the TV and finding a desk or table free from outside distractions are two great ways to start setting up your in home “school.”   

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The first day of school is never easy, but you can count on the friendly and helpful staff at PA Virtual to guide you through not just your first day in cyber school, but your entire first year. It is our goal to connect you with teachers, resources, and other families in your area and position your child for a lifetime of success with PA Virtual!

 

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Posted on: August 25, 2017 by Diana Perney in

About Cyber Education

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Tips to Help Your Child Succeed in Kindergarten

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On average, 1.3 million children in America start kindergarten each year. One of the most important parts of a kindergartner’s education is spending time sharpening their basic learning skills. Whether your child is away from home for the first time, or they are enrolled in a cyber program and you are a Learning Coach, there are areas you can work on as parents to help your children succeed.

Here is a list of areas to focus on when helping a kindergartner study:

  1. Behavior: Your student has to learn how to follow classroom guidelines and safety rules, even if those guidelines are for learning in your own home. He or she must also practice good manners and treat others with respect.

  2. Fine motor skills: Help your student practice writing letters and numbers, assembling puzzles, using scissors, and tying shoes. The smallest things that we take for granted in our morning routine are great ways to develop your child’s motor skills.

  3. Creativity: Give your kindergartner time to draw or paint and review the basic colors while he or she works. Listening to music is another type of creative exploration. Browse Pinterest if you want to find other creative project ideas for young students.

  4. Socializing: Make an effort to organize playgroups and also get your child involved in an outdoor extracurricular activity. Your child needs to spend time working with other children to learn how to share, take turns, listen, solve problems, and respect the property and feelings of others.

  5. Vocabulary: Be intentional in using proper language to help your child build their vocabulary. Expose your kindergarten student to a world of language that is used in real-life situations. Always introduce a new word by following up with the definition. Introducing your child to a broad range of language stimulates good conversation and deeper thinking skills.
  6. Reading and writing: Developing your kindergartner’s word smarts will boost his or her interest in reading. Introduce your student to book-friendly environments by taking trips to the local library and building your book collection at home, making books more accessible.

  7. Math: Do hands-on activities using math manipulatives such as paper clips, buttons, pennies, or any other small objects with which students can count. These can help students practice counting to 10, do basic addition and subtraction, and learn how to use the words and phrases “more,” “less,” “same as,” “none,” “some,” and “all.”

  8. Science: Study science through activities and experimentation. If you do a quick internet search, you will find dozens of experiments that are appropriate for kids under the age of six. During these types of activities, encourage your student to ask questions, make observations, and compare and contrast objects and materials.

  9. Take breaks often. When your student gets bored and restless while studying, take a short break. Have healthy snacks ready and make sure break time is actually a break.

  10. Learn on the move. Letting your student move around instead of sitting still can be more effective for some students. Simply moving to a different room can also stimulate your student’s senses and refocus their attention.

Did you know PA Virtual is still enrolling for kindergarten? Call us today to get more information and to see if a cyber charter school is the right for your family.

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Posted on: August 23, 2017 by Sheik Meah in

Quick Tips in Education

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Curriculum Matters

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A deeper look into the nationally recognized curriculum used by PA Virtual         

PA Virtual challenges students each day in a flexible online learning environment from the comfort of their own homes. How does a school connect students from across the state and ensure their academic needs are met? Our state-certified teachers guide students through their studies using the nationally recognized K12, Inc. curriculum that aligns with the PA Core Standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

PA Virtual teachers deliver these award winning online courses to students in any grade at every level of learning. Teachers use their creativity to individualize lesson plans based on the needs of students in the virtual classroom. PA Virtual has used K12, Inc. as the source for curriculum since its inception in 2001. Nationally, the curriculum aligns with the Common Core, however the PA Core Standards are slightly different. Parents may find “PA Only” lessons or supplements provided by K12, Inc. or teachers during the course of the school year. 

While rigorous, the K12, Inc. curriculum is designed for parents to use at home with students, unlike most school curriculum which is developed for teachers who have a degree in their specialty area. To help bridge the gap, Learning Coaches are provided with manuals on how to help provide guided instruction, in addition to the teacher. This means you don’t have to be a math major to help your student understand and master math skills and concepts.

K12, Inc. provides PA Virtual families with more than just curriculum and textbooks. Supplemental materials are shipped at the beginning of each school year depending on the courses your student is ready to take. These resources are designed to help students grasp concepts from different perspectives since every child learns differently and not every family will use all of the additional learning tools provided. Physical materials for science labs may include microscopes or test tubes and history lessons may require a globe or map—all delivered to your doorstep!

The range of courses provided is exactly what you would find at your traditional public school, with the added benefit of moving at your own pace. Elementary and middle school students take ELA each year, which ranges from phonics, literature, vocabulary, grammar and handwriting; mathematics, and full year science, art, music and history.

Students benefit from even more flexibility at the high school level and can choose advanced art and music electives, world languages, creative writing or computer science, in addition to their core classes.  PA Virtual also offers AP Courses through K12, Inc., giving college bound students the ability to get a jump on higher level subjects.

K12, Inc. recognizes that cyber school students need to do more than just read a textbook or view a slideshow. Each lesson is interactive, hands-on and engages the student to participate. Built in to most classes is the time for independent study, where struggling students can receive a little extra help and a high achieving student may be able to finish an assignment early or get ahead. Want to see how specific courses are developed? Check out this video to see how interactive and in depth science lessons are put together.

PA Virtual’s high academic success and graduation rates are the result of using this proven curriculum and the highly-qualified teaching staff, and we can help your child find their personal academic success! Think a PA Virtual education might be right for you? Contact our enrollment department today at or call 866-728-2751 for more information!

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Posted on: August 16, 2017 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in |

5 Ways to Help Your Child Build Good Study Habits

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There are a lot of ways to get the school year off to a great start with your children – eating healthy, sleeping regularly, and of course, teaching good study habits. Although it is vital that students study effectively for their classes, many children struggle with developing good study habits. Here are 5 tips on how you can help your child excel in studying:

  • Plan a regular homework time – Have a specific time every day blocked off for homework and help them get started. Make sure to remain firm on your schedule. By being consistent, you’ll facilitate consistent results.

  • Cheer them on – Speak specific words of praise often about your kids doing their work and the quality of their work. After an especially challenging lesson or project, give your child a small reward. Avoid using rewards as a bribe to get schoolwork done.

  • Be available to answer questions –Try to be near your kids while they do their homework. This is especially true for older students who may need an extra hand, but are afraid to ask. For younger children, encourage them to try solving problems themselves first before they turn to you for help.

  • Create a special notebook for logging assignments – When we go to work, we often have a “To-Do List”; have your kids create one too. Your child can write down what they’re assigned each day, so they won’t forget. This is also a good place for keeping a list of classmates’ phone numbers to call when they need help.

  • Keep in touch with teachers – Communicate regularly with your children’s teachers to stay aware of the subjects they’re learning, special projects, and teachers’ expectations.

Did you know PA Virtual parents have access to all of their student's assignments, teachers, and grades on a daily basis? If you are interested in learning more, click the button below.

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Posted on: August 11, 2017 by Sheik Meah in

Quick Tips in Education

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PA Virtual Student Wins Robotics Competition Competing Among Adults

4th Grader Sawyer Wins Robot Competition

Sawyer Wright of Pittsburgh is headed into 4th grade at PA Virtual this Fall and has been bitten by the robot bug. His love of creation and competition led the Wright family on a trip to Gastonia, North Carolina this June to compete in the Clash of Bots 2017, held at The Scheile Museum of Natural History. Sawyer and his robot, MUGGA JUNK, were prepared to battle, not knowing he was going to be one of the youngest competitors in the ring. Sawyer was the only competitor under the age of 18 at the event.

Across Pennsylvania, schools are finding that today’s digital natives are surpassing their parents with knowledge of computers, coding and the other new trends—robots.  These new tech-xtra curricular activities not only excite a child’s imagination, but give them the tools and skills they need to navigate the 21st century job market! At PA Virtual, we provide our students with a flexible learning environment where they can pursue outside passions or activities that may interest them, including competitive robotics.

Sawyer was originally enrolled in cyber school due to severe egg and peanut allergies that jeopardized his safety in a traditional classroom or cafeteria. Sawyer’s father Doug Wright serves as the Learning Coach in the Wright home. At PA Virtual, Learning Coaches are parents or an adult at home who can provide additional structure and support to the student, in addition to school teachers and administrators. The family has seen Sawyer benefit from the high quality and diverse curriculum used by PA Virtual.

“The cyber school model allows us to be more hands on and involved in our children’s education,” said Doug. “The flexibility also enables us to let Sawyer participate in outside activities that he loves—like building and competing with robots.” 

Robots, like MUGGA JUNK are designed to inflict damage on other robots—not their human counterparts. Prior to the competition, Sawyer’s robot was checked for safety, weight class and to make sure it was operating properly. He went head to head with robots that had built in weapons like ramming wedges, lifting mechanisms, and spinners with weapons that deliver high kinetic energy blows that can throw robots into the air or rip them apart. 

“The atmosphere is competitive but also extremely friendly,” said Doug Wright, Sawyer's father. “While the competitive pool is mainly adults, it never deterred Sawyer’s confidence. Other competitors could see how young he was and cheered for him constantly.” 

Sawyer’s tenacity persisted throughout the day. He eventually piloted MUGGA JUNK to five victories in the robots weight class, placing him at the top of the leaderboard, meaning not only was he one of the youngest competitors, but the youngest winner at the 2017 Clash of Bots. Congratulations Sawyer!

 

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Posted on: August 09, 2017 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in

Super Student

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10 Fun, Budget-Friendly Activities Your Family Can Enjoy in Philadelphia This August

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As the last few weeks of summer approach, families are trying to squeeze in every bit of fun they can. Trips to the amusement park, movies, and beaches can get expensive. Here is a list of 10 free or low-cost activities you can do with your family in the Philly-area, which are not only fun and kid friendly, but budget friendly too!

  • Head down to Dilworth Park – Not only is it a beautiful place to visit, but they have free concerts on Wednesdays and free movies on Fridays.
  • Explore science at the Franklin Institute. – On Community Night, which is the third Wednesday of every month, admission is FREE from 5-8 PM and parking is discounted.
  • Check out the Philadelphia Mural Mile – Philly has Murals everywhere; but this mile stretch has some of the best artwork in the city, for free! Guided tours are also available for a small fee.
  • Visit the beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park – From hiking and walking trails, to ice cream socials and bird watching, it’s a great (and free) way to get in touch with nature.
  • Check out one of Philadelphia’s Spraygrounds – There are locations all over the city and a fun and free way to cool down.
  • Kids Bowl Free – Sign your kids up and they get two free games at participating bowling alleys everyday this summer. Standard shoe rental rates may apply.
  • Test your child’s detective skills at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site. Complete the activities to become a Junior Ranger or just listen for "The Tell-Tale Heart."
  • Does one of your kids have four legs and fur? Check out Pretzel Park, located in Manayunk, where all of your kids, even ones named “Buddy”, can go play. Plus, there are always special events going on, like the Farmers Market on weekends that parents will enjoy.
  • Embrace the green in Bartram's Garden. This historic site will have you amazed that you're still within city limits.
  • Be a tourist! Run up the Rocky steps, visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, or grab a seat and listen to Ben or Betsy at one of the 10 Storytelling Benches in the Historic District.

All of these places are family-oriented and a lot of fun. Many of the events above also provide a learning component and allow children to explore their creative side.

Are you interested in learning more about cyber charter schools, but have concerns about socialization? PA Virtual Charter School plans similar outings to those above with an educational focus for students and families during the school year across the state. 

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Posted on: August 03, 2017 by Sheik Meah in

In the Community

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