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April 1, 2021

Dear HAHA Members,

It’s officially spring and it’s so nice to see the signs of it popping out everywhere and I’m sure you all have been going outside to enjoy the warm sunshine. When my kids were young, we used to go for nature walks in the woods and look for signs of spring. They would draw pictures in their nature sketchbooks and record what they observed. We would do that several times throughout the spring and each time there were new plants, leaves, and flowers to discover. Those walks are precious memories. I hope you are making memories of your own!

Since March 1, HAHA leaders have been working hard to plan two events for you. Our Homeschooling Thru High School Workshop on April 15 will seek to help those of you who are currently homeschooling high schoolers or are preparing to in the future. Many homeschooling parents have asked for this, so we’re really excited to offer it. You can check the details out on our website at https://www.homeschool-life.com/346/. This event is limited to 25 participants, so if you plan to attend, go quickly to the website and sign up on the calendar.

Then in May - on the 22nd - we will be holding our Homeschool Curriculum & Resource Fair. What will you be able to enjoy there? Used curriculum that you can purchase, vendors who offer extracurricular activities and services to homeschooling families, parents highlighting their favorite curriculum in mini-workshops every half hour, a notary who will notarize affidavits for free, coffee, concessions, and more. You can sign up on the HAHA calendar, so we can get an idea of how many might be coming, or just show up. We are very excited to host this and meet all of you! 

Spring is a great time for cleaning out, so gather all that un-used curriculum you have, and bring it to the fair to sell! Be sure to go to the calendar and sign up if you want a used curriculum vendor table. We will be limited in how many we can host, so don’t delay. https://www.homeschool-life.com/346/events/?public=1&private=

Regarding the Curriculum Highlights workshops - approximately one month in advance, we will let you know what curriculums will be highlighted so that you know what time to plan on being at the fair. Attend that part of your day, or attend ALL day! It’s up to you. Oh and you can bring the whole family with you, or leave them home and enjoy a mom’s day out. It’s up to you. Hope to see you there!

Kris

March 1, 2021

Hello HAHA members,

I hope this letter finds you all staying the homeschool course through the dragging winter months. Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the winter season. Thankfully March will usher in spring, which will hopefully rejuvenate us and our home schools too.

Here at HAHA headquarters, we are working on a couple of spring events for you to look forward to. In addition to our loaded field trip and class calendar, we are excited to offer a workshop in April (date forthcoming) that many of you have expressed a need for - Homeschooling Through High School. We have secured two evaluators and a former homeschooling teacher (yours truly!) who will provide valuable information on PA Laws, recordkeeping, dual enrollment, course ideas, diploma programs, parent-issued diplomas, and more! Each attendee will be given handouts to take home. As soon as we have confirmation of our venue, we will post all the information regarding this workshop on the calendar and front page of our website.

We are also working on a Curriculum & Resource Fair in May. This event will provide a place for homeschoolers to sell their used curriculum and resources. Additionally, we will be inviting vendors who provide services for the homeschool community, such as art and music teachers, evaluators, tutors, and local businesses, to come and be available for you as you seek educational opportunities for your kids. We also hope to find several homeschooling parents who would like to bring their favorite curriculum (popular homeschool curriculums), then show and tell other homeschooling parents about it. If you would be willing to take part in these “curriculum shares”, please contact me, Kris Stoddard, at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook. 

Finally, many of you know that finding space has been one of the biggest challenges in the homeschool community. We are currently meeting with local church leaders who might be willing to share their spaces with leaders in the expanding homeschool community. A venue resource list will be available soon and will include location, contact information, and what each facility has available by way of space. We could use your help with this resource! If you know of a church leader or building manager who might consider this, would you let me know?  Just email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook. It would be so helpful if you could give me a contact name too if possible, however, I’ll take all the suggestions I can get.

God bless!

Kris Stoddard

February 1, 2021

Dear Members,

I hope this letter finds you warm, content, and in good health! 

February begins what I call the “looking ahead and pre-planning phase” for many homeschooling parents. We begin to think about what the next school year will look like. For some of you, it means deciding whether to continue homeschooling or not; for others, it means thinking through what classes your kids will need, the curriculums that will work best, and even co-ops and extra-curricular activities you want your kids to participate in.

Here at HAHA, we’ve made resources available to help with this process. If you are beginning homeschoolers, there are resources listed on the front page of our website (public side - before you log in).  You can start there. Then once you log in, under the resources tab, you will also find listings of co-ops, evaluators, and community resources. Additionally, many organizations and businesses advertise their services to you in our monthly e-newsletter, on our calendar, and on our Facebook page. Please take advantage of these helpful and convenient resources. And by all means, let us know if there are other ways we might help you!

With all the restrictions, we have felt like our hands have been tied when it comes to planning in-person activities for you all - besides field trips, that is. However, we are hoping to start those back up again. We are planning a curriculum and resource fair in the spring. (Yes, we’ll try again - on a smaller scale perhaps.) Be watching for details. We are also considering offering workshops. Please help us out with what you might need by going to the front page of the website and clicking on the survey. Or click here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSetoyyXroVLFk5X16RuesfCMAoZBo9qAeHk6jsnFykjkDtkpw/viewform?usp=pp_url

Have a happy February!

Kris

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

How many of you are hoping for a better year in 2021 than we had in 2020? I think it’s safe to say that we are ALL hoping for that. So why not kick the new year off with an “Evening of Encouragement”? On January 23, HAHA will be putting on a special, virtual evening of encouragement especially for you! The evening will be divided into two parts: a panel of experienced homeschooling parents and a special presentation by veteran homeschooling mom & dad, Mike & Debbie Frost. 

First, our panelists will be sharing their homeschooling wisdom, ideas, and experiences in response to questions generated by our own members! If there is a topic or issue you would like us to consider for the presentation, let us know by going to the sign-up on the front page of the HAHA website or by going to the calendar.

Then the Frosts will seek to encourage us in our marriage relationships in the midst of busy homeschooling years. Homeschooling takes an incredible amount of time, energy and resources. Is your relationship with your spouse the last thing on the list to be nurtured? I know it often became an afterthought for me during my homeschooling year. However, I think we would all agree that if our marriage relationships are struggling or falling apart, our children are affected negatively.  And conversely, if our marriages are thriving, our children are more happy and secure. I know I am very curious to hear what the Frosts have to share!

In conclusion, here are a couple of cute jokes to help you keep a sense of humor.

  • My husband purchased a world map and then gave me a dart and said, “Throw this and wherever it lands—that’s where I’m taking you when this pandemic ends.” Turns out, we’re spending two weeks behind the fridge.

  • 121 days at home and the dog is looking at me like, “See? This is why I chew the furniture.”

God bless your new year!                                                                                            
Kris

December 1, 2020

Hello fellow HAHA members,

How was your Thanksgiving? I hope it was happy despite the restrictions! In the past, I have found that being intentionally thankful is a highly effective strategy for fighting discouragement and overcoming disappointment.  I don’t know about you, but I have found myself grumbling and complaining more during this season than usual! 

Another way of dealing with a difficult season might be to focus on making your homeschooling day more exciting to you and your kids by coming up with fresh, new ideas. A while back I posted a short note on our Facebook page about the J-Term idea I had come up with and used for my kids. Someone suggested I share that here because we have so many new members this year! So here it is:

I knew that Messiah College ran a J-Term every January for their students. This was a time when students could launch out into ministry experiences, travel abroad, study something different, or apprentice for a month. As Christmas came and went one year, and I was dreading the “after holiday” season of getting the kids back into the swing of school studies, the thought occurred to me that we might run our own J-Term!  The kids could each study something they were interested in for 3-4 weeks with a presentation at the close of it. I made a simple template of how it would work and we went for it. 

I informed the kids BEFORE Christmas of what we would be doing and that they needed to be thinking about what they might want to study. Do you know what happened? Christmas came and went and there was NO dragging them out of bed to do school. They were so excited! And even better, so was I!  We leaped enthusiastically into January and the kids delved into their respective studies while I guided. It was amazing. 

The next year when we were approaching December, one of my kids came up to me and said “Mom, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for J-Term this year” and went on the excitedly list the options she was deciding between. I hadn’t even mentioned it yet! The kids proceeded to be excited to get to school after the holidays AGAIN - even asking if we could start sooner than we had planned.  It was so cool. 

J-Term encompassed all of our language arts (grammar, spelling, handwriting, reading, writing, vocabulary, etc.), history, and sometimes science. (We continued to do math separately.) We always started J-Term with a trip to the library to get LOTS of books. The kids would enjoy just reading and looking at pictures and even watching documentaries in the information-gathering phase. The presentation at the end could be a storyboard, a science fair trifold display, or a PowerPoint presentation. They LOVED presenting to friends & family. They were SO proud of their work. This is one of my favorite memories from our homeschooling years. Why not try out a J-Term with your kiddos? Be creative and make it what you want it to be. I’d love to hear how it went.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Kris

November 1, 2020

Dear HAHA Members,

Hasn’t it been a beautiful fall? My husband and I have been hiking on the weekends and each time we go out, there are more leaves that have fallen off the trees allowing us to see more of what surrounds us. Change is happening! The colors of the leaves have changed from green to reds, yellows, and oranges, the temperatures have begun to fall, even the smell of the air has changed. Fall will gradually morph into winter - whether we want it to or not. So we adjust. We pack outdoor items into the shed or garage for the winter. We turn the thermostat up to keep warm. We put the summer clothes away and replace them with warmer clothing. We exchange screened doors for storm doors. 

We’ve all been confronted by other changes over the past eight months. You have done what you needed to do to adjust to the change, including working from home, ordering groceries online, making or purchasing face masks, and yes, even bringing your children home to be educated. Homeschooling your children is not a simple or easy change, is it? But it was the right choice for so many. In my humble opinion, it was brave. I commend those of you who have stepped into this new frontier without really knowing what it was all about. You certainly did not choose the easy route, but you chose one of the most rewarding and beneficial ones!

Here at HAHA, we are working to provide services that will help you along the way. Field trips are an extremely valuable way we do that. I want to acknowledge our coordinators, Aimée Jones and Beth Mellott, who do a tremendous job of hunting down fun, educational field trips for you all. Honestly, they go above and beyond when it comes to serving you all. Some of the field trips take a lot of planning and communication before it all comes together. I know that they are working on planning a few more teen-oriented field trips for the future, so be watching for those. 

By the way, if you ever have an idea for a field trip, you can suggest that field trip by going to the website, logging in, and click on “I am…” then “Suggesting a field trip”.  These two ladies will look into it. And the next time you see them, I encourage you to let them know how much you appreciate all that they do! Or even shoot them an email message. All board members’ email addresses can be found on the website under “Contact Us”. 

I wish you all a wonderful fall and Thanksgiving holiday. Be watching for a couple of special events in the near future that we are working on! And again, if there is anything we can do for you, please let us know.

Kris

October 1, 2020

Hello HAHA Members-

Many of you have made it through your first month or more of school! Congratulations. I hope it is going well. It’s not easy but it can be very rewarding to work hard!  There are many of you who started homeschooling for the first time this year and I think about you a lot. I hope you are taking advantage of the field trips and park days we have planned. These activities are a great way for you to get to talk to experienced homeschooling parents and for your kids to make friends. The next park day is on Friday, October 9 from 11:00-2:00 at Winding Hill Park - North in Mechanicsburg. I am hosting this one and I would love to meet you! 

I look back on my homeschooling experience from time to time - especially when I’m asked questions by current homeschooling parents. How do I get started? What curriculums would you recommend? How many hours should I be spending on school each day? How in the world do I homeschool my independent, strong-willed child? Or my struggling learner? Or my child who will do anything to avoid doing her math at all costs? How do I homeschool a teenager?? So many questions and hours of answers. But I want to set all those questions aside for now and ask you all a more important question - one that significantly affects both the environment and the success of your homeschool and your child’s well-being. It is a question I was often reminded of and wrestled with through the years.

How is your relationship with your kids?  Do you pursue your individual children as diligently as you pursue researching and finding the right curriculum? Do you chase after your child’s heart with the same determination you exercise in searching out the right classes, tutors, extracurricular and social opportunities for your kids? It is so important to keep the main things the main things when homeschooling. Your relationship with your kids is a MAIN THING. And it gets tested for sure!

There are many ways we can nurture good relationships with our kids, but I recall one very simple way that was shared with me years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. Here it is:  Look at your child in the eyes every day. Take time to REALLY look at them - with love and compassion. This practice is not just for those bottle-feeding years.

Some days I would get through a whole day of homeschooling and realize that I couldn’t recall ever looking into my child’s eyes that day! I would get caught up in what I needed to accomplish without any consideration of the WHO I was trying to accomplish it with!  So I began to practice looking into my child’s eyes. It’s amazing what you can see if you stop and look. You can see their hearts through those eyes! And even more amazing, sometimes all it took was one of these lingering looks of love to feed my child’s soul, and there would be a sense of peace where I had begun to see attitudes and behaviors breaking down. Other times it took more - a hug, a break, a snack, an activity done together. Nevertheless, the effects were noticeable! Try it yourself and see if it makes a difference. It will not solve all your problems, but it sure will help you keep your relationship a MAIN THING in the midst of the hustle and bustle of homeschooling.

Kris

September 1, 2020

Dear HAHA Members,

Well, by now most of you have begun your school year or at least are getting ready to begin. This is my first year NOT preparing to homeschool any of my children. I’m really missing the building excitement my kids and I felt as we got ready for the year to come - buying school supplies, organizing & decorating the school room, watching for delivery trucks pausing in front of our house to leave “presents” on our front porch, then opening those “presents” to see what’s inside, setting and posting schedules and calendars, decorating covers of binders, and on and on!

But you are still in the midst of those days, so let me encourage you to take time and enjoy them. Take pleasure in getting to know your kids inside and out and helping to build character in them. Figure out how to motivate them and fuel their love for learning. Kids naturally love learning and they thrive on schedules and routines, don’t they? Set up a routine that works for you and your family. As homeschooling parents there are so many creative ways to run your home school. What an amazing way to love and nurture your kids! 

One thing we all LOVE about homeschooling is the freedom to set our own schedules and the ability to do spontaneous things. Make use of this freedom to stave off times of drudgery, isolation, and intensity in your homeschooling life by attending HAHA Park Days this fall.  They begin in September and run through October. Anyone can host one, however, the HAHA Board Members are specifically hosting two in September and two in October. We have so many new members, most of whom are new homeschoolers. We’d love to get to know you and help you in any way we can. 

Lastly, I want to invite you all to fully explore HAHA’s website and be sure you are taking advantage of all the tools it offers. If you don’t necessarily want to go as public as our facebook page to ask your questions or to get help from other homeschoolers, we have a Forum you can use. This keeps your request or questions “in the family.”  (Be sure you have checked “yes” to receive  forum emails so that you can respond to other’s postings. You can check that by clicking on “Profile.”)  Additionally you will find “Classifieds” where you can post items you want to sell to other members. Of course, the biggest draw for HAHA members is the vast array of events and activities found on our “Calendar”. It’s color-coded so that you can more easily find what you are looking for. 

God bless your school year!! Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the leaders if you have a need or an idea. Our emails are located under the “Contact Us” link after you sign-in to your account.

Kris

August 1, 2020

Dear HAHA Members,

Can it possibly be August already? How can time go so slow but so fast all at once?? And how are you all doing? I wish I could meet each one of you and chat! The best I can do for now is try to meet those of you who come to our HOMESCHOOLIBRATION event this Monday from 11:00 AM -3:00 PM. This year’s kick-off to the school year is more of a come and go event, so show up when you can, and leave when you need to, however, we will have drawings for a great assortment of gifts every half hour throughout the 4 hours we are there. 

We will also have lawn games and table games available for everyone. (Feel free to bring your own too!) We could not have face painting this year...for obvious reasons, but we will serve Rita’s Italian Ice at about 12:30 PM, so pack your lunches and come hang out with us! Like last year, there will be a check-in table where you will receive tickets for both the drawings and your Italian ice, so be sure to stop there first. We are also excited to give a special gift to each family that comes. 

I want to especially welcome our new members!  Some of you took advantage of our free trial period in July. I hope you found that becoming a member of HAHA would be more than worth the $30 it costs to join. Our fiscal year begins August 1, so all members will be receiving an invoice to pay your membership fee for the coming year. I encourage you to take care of it right away, so that you can continue enjoying the many benefits of membership. We will have computers available at Homeschoolibration for those who want to take care of paying or registering right then and there. 

While we have some events and ideas we are working on for the future, we value your thoughts and ideas. If you ever have an idea of how HAHA can serve the homeschool community even more, feel free to contact one of the board members under the “Contact Us” tab on our website. But beware! If you offer an idea, be ready to be asked to run with it! (No pressure! Lol.)

God bless you all,

Kris


July 1, 2020

Happy July dear HAHA members! 

I hope this letter finds you all healthy and enjoying your summer break!  I know there are some families who school through the summer, but hopefully, it’s a lighter schedule and you are enjoying lots of summer activities. As you know, it’s been necessary to curtail our activities, however, we are really looking forward to kicking off the next school year with our HOMESCHOOLIBRATION once again this year on August 3rd! Be ready to renew your membership starting August 1!

Judging by how many have already signed up, you are seeing the advertisements on the website and our Facebook page.  Fair warning - if sign-ups reach 250 attendees, we will have to cut it off, so make sure you get registered! We will do much the same as we did last year - eat Rita’s Italian Ice, give away some awesome door prizes, and enjoy being together. Be sure to bring your lunches! Additionally, you can also load up any used books, curriculum, or materials that you might want to get rid of and sell right out of your trunk that day! We thought this might help since we did not get to have our Curriculum & Resource Fair this year. 

This month we have also enjoyed two meetings so far with parents who are looking for alternative educational options given the fall plans brick and mortar schools are considering. The homeschool community is growing! I hope you will welcome and be of help to new homeschool families as you might encounter them. We now have a page on the public side of our website that allows these families to connect with someone who can help them (under the “I am…” tab) and also a FAQ page that answers some of the basic questions. You can refer friends and neighbors there. We will also have two more Zoom Q & A meetings for prospective homeschoolers on July 8 and 20. Friends and neighbors can sign up on the public calendar.

I hope to see you soon!
God bless,
Kris


June 1, 2020

This month we hear from HAHA Board Member Theresa Fowler as she shares about her homeschool journey with her kids and now her grandkids.

Hello! My name is Theresa Fowler. I was asked to join the HAHA board as a former homeschooler and a grandma who sometimes helps to homeschool her grandchildren.  I am a nurse and a math/science person, not a writer, but allow me to tell you a little bit about my homeschooling experience. We have four children and started to homeschool the oldest when he was in kindergarten in 1990. I was involved in HAHA way back then for a while. Eventually we homeschooled all four kids through high school graduation.  All four went on to graduate from college. I totally enjoyed homeschooling--of course it's much easier to say that on this side of it.  Yes, there were chaotic days, days when I was unsure if anyone was learning anything, but I would not change a thing!! I enjoyed seeing each of the kids learn how to read. I loved seeing the "ah ha" on their face as they understood some new math concept. I loved that each child could further explore areas they were especially interested in.  

My eldest loved computers from day one. He is now a part owner of a web company in Ann Arbor. My daughter loved animals - ask any Mechanicsburg librarian. She read every animal book in the library multiple times. Because she was homeschooled she was able to work for the local veterinarian and learn more about biology and health. She is now a nurse and a nursing instructor at Messiah. She loves children (her fourth is due in October) and if you were to visit her home, you would see that she still loves animals! Our third child always loved business and anything to do with business. He and his wife (also a nurse) live locally and he works at Soccer Shots.  Three of our children  played on the local high school soccer team. Our youngest recently graduated from college, got married and works in business.  He has had many loves--knives, cameras, cars etc. If you see really nice pictures of my grandchildren it's because he has taken them. Homeschooling allowed him to play with many of his special interests. I know it is now cliche but I do believe homeschooling "creates lifelong learners".

As a homeschool mom, I had a few friends who also started homeschooling when I did and I believe that was part of the success. It was so helpful to get together and fellowship with  other moms who knew my struggles.  It was great for our kids to get together as well. As a homeschooler you need a few really good friends! HAHA was (and is) a great way to meet others--either at field trips, Homeschoolibration (coming again this August) or on our Facebook group.

Thank you for allowing me to ramble about my family. I look forward to getting to know you and yours. May God bless you and your families! 

Theresa Fowler

May 1, 2020

Hello Sheltered Friends,

How are you all doing?  While there have been many blessings about this “coronacrazy” season, like getting a much needed break from busyness, taking walks with our friends or families, having time to  bake, put puzzles together, revive a hobby, or read a book, if you’re anything like me, you might be feeling like it’s getting loooooooong. We actually joined my niece and her family for dinner last week and it was like Christmas, only the gifts were not wrapped. 

The gifts included being somewhere other than home and being with people other than the ones I’ve been cooped up with for eight weeks!  As much as I love them, well, for an extrovert like me who is refreshed and energized by being with people, I miss other people!!  Zoom meet-ups help, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. Thankfully, we are beginning to see small signs of daily life begin to shift back to normal. Now when I want to get out, it can be someplace other than the grocery store or Dollar Tree!  Hey, Staples is open!!!  School supplies, here I come! Suddenly, I have a need for pens. 

And what is going on at HAHA, you ask?  It has been pretty quiet on that front, but believe me, we are still alive and kicking, ready to jump into action once we have the green light. We were so disappointed to have to cancel our Curriculum & Resource Fair, which would have happened this month. However, we will try to make it up to you in August at our second annual Homeschoolibration.  Many of you remember this event from last year.  It was lots of fun. 

This year we will make sure it is just as fun and even more worth coming to!  Set aside your used curriculum because we plan to have a huge tent and tables where you can sell it.  We will also invite vendors whose services you and your kids might be interested in checking out - like instructors of karate or musical instrumental lessons, tutors, evaluators, and many others. We will get a date to you as soon as we have our venue secured, so be watching for that.

April showers bring May flowers!  May this month be beautiful to you in many ways! I’m hoping one way is to be able to go more places, be able to meet with people, and do it all without wearing a mask!

Here’s hoping...

Kris

April 1, 2019

Things felt very surreal as my husband and I perused the increasingly empty shelves at the grocery store and then as I delivered one of my kids to an appointment and found myself having to navigate through orange cones leading cars through a testing site for COVID-19, complete with a police presence, large white canopies, and medical personnel milling around in masks & gowns. Wow! I pinched myself to make sure I was awake. Ouch. Yup, I was awake alright.

While I waited for my daughter at her doctor’s appointment, I decided to walk over to Dunkin Donuts and grab a latte. Halfway there, it hit me that I would have to go back and get the car since the dining area was not open and I would have to use the drive-through. So I walked back, got in the car, and then I remembered that my driver’s side window doesn’t work. Hmmm...I considered for a minute if I should just forget about the latte. Well, THAT wasn’t happening, so I pulled into the drive-through lane, up to the speaker, opened my door and ordered. Not a problem. Then I pulled up to the next window just right so I had room to open my door and pay. After offering an embarrassed explanation about my window not working, I paid, then received my longed-for latte.

It got me to wondering...What if, for whatever reason, I couldn’t get my coveted latte or morning cup of joe anymore? Losing what we’re used to having does have the potential to bring out impatience, self-pity, worry, anxiety, fear and the like. But, coffee deprivation aside, real hardship can also bring out compassion, camaraderie, and good will. And I’m seeing a whole lot of the good side happening and I bet you are too. We are all “in this together” and it’s reviving a creativity and community that often gets neglected in the midst of our very busy worlds of work, school, and activity. That’s a good thing. 

So how is HAHA helping during this season?  

  • We’ve gathered and posted valuable resources on our website for everyone to easily access.  Check it out on the front page.  

  • As most of you know by now the governor has officially signed an amendment to Senate Bill 751 that waives regulations regarding evaluations, having them done & submitting them to your school district, and standardized testing. In another article in this e-newsletter, we outline some considerations and recommendations to consider in regard to these waived regulations. 

  • We are also working on offering our support to evaluators who are going to “get the short end of the stick” in this amendment deal. We are offering them free advertisement and we will work with them to get their messages regarding their services out to the homeschooling community. Be watching for their ads!

Last, but not least, we have obviously had to postpone or cancel field trips and classes. This is unfortunate, but we pray that soon this virus will stop spreading and we can be back up and running again! In the meantime, “keep calm and homeschool on.” Be assured that God always has great purpose in all that He allows. And watch for the good things He accomplishes through this strange season of limitations and deprivation - beginning right in our own families and extending to our communities, government and beyond!

Thinking of you all,

Kris 


Regarding Evaluations

"Senate Bill 751 was amended to include these waivers and other changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Wolf signed the bill into law today. It is effective immediately. This means that for the 2019-2020 school year, homeschooling parents will not be required to:

  1. Include the results of a nationally normed standardized achievement test (or the Pennsylvania statewide test) in their student’s portfolio. This is currently required for students in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade.

  2. Conduct an annual written evaluation of educational progress as determined by a qualified homeschool evaluator.

  3. Send the qualified evaluator’s certification to the local superintendent by June 30.”

While this is helpful for many, it also evokes several questions for homeschooling families:

What about maintaining our records for each child’s completed grade?

What about my senior who is graduating?

What about high school students who need transcripts and evaluations in order to secure a diploma? (parent-issued or a program-issued)

First of all, keep records for all of your kids. 

Second, even though evaluations are not required this year, you can still have an evaluation if you choose to and if your evaluator is offering them. Contact your evaluator for information and procedures they have come up with to make that happen.

For grades 7 & 8, we recommend that you talk to your evaluator regarding the keeping of records, especially keeping track of state-required topics.

High school students really must have an evaluation since what they do counts toward a diploma. Again, evaluators will be determining individually how this can happen, so you will want to contact an evaluator. For example, I am scanning and sending samples and paperwork to my daughter’s evaluator who will then look at them, update her records, and then conduct an interview with my daughter via video conferencing.

March 1, 2020

Happy March! Spring is coming and with it great things for HAHA members!

On February 15 we were very pleased to enjoy brunch with about 20 of you at our Plugged In Brunch. We were thrilled to get feedback, ideas, and offers of help from many.  This means that leaders can move ahead in each of their respective areas. For those of you who were unable to attend, we want to keep you informed about the opportunities available to volunteer your help and support. HAHA will not be able to accomplish great things without that.  Here are a few highlights from our time together:

Project Elevate:  The goal of this initiative is to promote educational excellence in the homeschool community through classes, showcases, competition and collaborative gatherings.

  • We are now offering  two new classes in STEM & the trades via community members & businesses (see calendar). These classes are like field trips on steroids! They expand the field trip to an extended and structured time of learning. We hope to offer more in the future as we find partners.

  • Next school year we hope to hold our first Harrisburg Area Science Fair that any and all homeschoolers across the counties surrounding Harrisburg can participate in. Be watching for details. 

Project Assist: Hannah & Amy, our coordinators, have heard you and are now pursuing support groups that will encourage those families who deal with the challenges of children with special needs. They will also be posting links to helpful sites and resources soon. Additionally, they will be available to offer guidance and support to co-ops who want to accommodate special needs students.

Project Activate:  Our coordinator, Debi Graham, shared current legislation that homeschooling parents care about and ways to influence our state legislators.  Be watching for more information about House Bills (HB) 1938, 508 and Senate Bill (SB) 653 and for ways you can get involved as a valuable constituent on behalf of the home school community.

Last but not least, a Curriculum & Resource Fair is scheduled for May 30!  Mark your calendars! If we are able to get the venue & the help we need in these early stages, then you can look forward to these activities: 

  • Used curriculum & book sales 

  • A wide variety of vendors including homeschool classes & lessons, colleges, job opps, evaluators, co-ops, etc. 

  • Curriculum highlight mini-workshops presented by experienced moms 

  • A concession stand 

  • Giveaways

  • A notary on site to notarize affidavits

  • And much more!

We have worked to make our website a resource in and of itself for you. Be sure to explore it if you have not. Many of your questions can be answered there. If you have questions or need to reach out, don’t hesitate to email me or the other leaders. Their contact information is posted on the front page of the website for members.


Have a great month!

Kris

February 1, 2020

Can it possibly be February already?? My how time flies... at the same time this season can feel long, even endless. Some of us may experience a kind of seasonal depression or just generally feeling down. We bank on the fact that spring is coming even if we can’t see signs of it yet. Regardless of our feelings, we know without a doubt that silent and invisible processes are occurring in nature right now that will soon blossom into new life. I’m so thankful that God orders and sustains this world, including the changing of seasons and the rising of the sun each day. I count on that!

Unlike the silent and invisible pre-spring season, I’d like to unveil one of the silent and invisible processes that are going on behind the scenes at HAHA headquarters. I am so excited about the recent development of HAHA sponsored classes!  You will begin to hear about them if you haven’t already. So far there are two: Katapult STEM classes and Nate Pierce Trades classes. I love the idea of providing our members with access to STEM classes and promoting the trades! Be watching for details about these opportunities. Though class sizes will be limited, both Katapult and Nate Pierce will run additional classes in the future.  

I also want to remind you that we have rescheduled the Plugged-In Brunch that we had to cancel due to bad weather in January. It is now happening on February 15.  Visit the HAHA calendar for details and to sign up. (Yes, you must sign up again if you plan to come.) The leaders and I look forward to providing a yummy brunch for you and sharing all that we have been working on including exciting future plans.

Lastly, let me encourage any of you who might be struggling during this season to cultivate thankfulness. Thankfulness has worked like a magic pill for me during times of struggling to stay positive and encouraged. Even if you don’t feel thankful, start recording blessings both big and small every day. Before long you may find a new perspective springing up and blossoming!

Hope to see you soon!

January 1, 2020

Dear HAHA Members,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  I hope you had a very special Christmas with family and friends. And now  it’s time for new year’s resolutions... Here’s mine. Resolved: No resolutions this year. Anyone with me? The problem with my resolutions is that they seem to come with a premature expiration date...say Jan. 14 or earlier. My resolve doesn’t get me very far - especially when it involves diet and exercise or changing a bad habit. I’m sure I’m not alone. 

Might I suggest a different kind of resolve for us to consider this year? What if we started with who we want to be instead of what we want to do? What if we focused on character instead of accomplishment? Maybe we could ask ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be at the end of 2020? Is there an area of my life that I need or desire to change that would make a real difference in my relationships and ability to respond to life in a more meaningful, fruitful way.

Do I want to be more patient? 

Do I need to be more self-disciplined? 

How about listen better? 

Be more teachable or courageous or forgiving? 

The list of possibilities unlimited. 

I came across this idea a few years ago from a book called My One Word by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen. [FYI- This is a Christian book.] I loved it. Employing this idea with God’s help, I’ve grown so much more than I ever did with resolutions. That’s because there’s a connection between who I am and what I do!  Who I am leads to how I live. Don’t get me wrong. It still takes some focus & even self-discipline, but somehow working on the inside first makes external or behavioral change more likely. It’s not just our kids who need to grow up. We adults need to keep growing up, too! 

If you decide to read the book and choose a word for the year, I’d love to hear what word you chose.  If you don’t want to buy the book, I’ve typed up a summary that addresses some of the “hows” of choosing and then focusing on your “My One Word” throughout the year. Email or message me and I’ll share it with you.

One last thing...Don’t forget to sign up for our PLUGGED IN BRUNCH on January 18 from 9:00AM-12:00PM at Daybreak Church in Mechanicsburg. This event is for those who want to learn how they can plug in to HAHA as we seek to serve, unite, and represent the homeschool community. It will be a great morning to hear about opportunities and share ideas. Oh yah... there’s free food, too. Hope to see you there!


Kris

December 1, 2019

Greetings fellow HAHA members! 

There are two items I’d like to address this month. The first item is our PLUGGED IN BRUNCH we are hosting on January 18 from 9-12:00 at Daybreak Church in Mechanicsburg. We are excited to be in a room with you all, face-to-face, and share our specific plans for HAHA with you! Attendees will get to hear from several leaders/coordinators about plans, activities, and initiatives that are being worked on. We are hoping that those of you who checked the volunteer box on your member profile will consider joining us. You will have an opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions, and get involved in the areas that most appeal to you. AND you will get to enjoy a complimentary brunch on us. Be sure to sign up on through the HAHA calendar so we know how many to prepare for.

The second item I would like to address is the new rule on our facebook page - “Personal business promotions are not allowed and will be removed.” Be sure you read the post explaining that change if you haven’t already. However, I would also like to address HAHA members specifically, because you may be wondering why we are not offering free advertisement anymore to members who own or run businesses. 

HAHA is a nonprofit organization which exists to serve and support parents in homeschooling their families. Even nonprofit organizations must have sources of income in order to accomplish anything. $30/year per family is a very low cost for all that we provide and those services & benefits are increasing as we work toward our goals. While we would like to be able to support our families in their personal business pursuits, especially when that business benefits homeschoolers, we cannot do that right now.  In the past, HAHA has had a much larger base - almost 400 members! Unfortunately, that number has fallen over the past several years to about 160+. We are working hard to rebuild, but it takes time. You are always welcome to list your business in your member profile on our website for free.

Though, as a Board, we have made the decision to charge for advertising, we have also made it very affordable for anyone. For a mere $20, your ad will be posted on facebook 3 times, be advertised in the monthly e-newsletter 3 times and also be listed on our resource page for 6 months. As a small business owner myself with a very limited income, this is a very affordable fee. It would be worth it. 

One last note - you need to know that not one of your HAHA Board members, leaders or coordinators receives one penny right now for all the work they are doing. They are truly volunteers, making great contributions to the homeschooling community.  Paying to advertise your business is one way you can invest in the success of HAHA, thereby the homeschool community. Thanks to those of you who take part in this investment.  

Last but not least, from the Stoddard Homeschool family to yours, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and I hope to see you in January!


Kris

November 1, 2019

Who is Kris Stoddard? We asked her some questions to get to know her better and find out where her vision for HAHA will take us. 


Tell us about your family.  I have been married to my husband Bruce for 29 years.  In the early 2000's we began adopting kids from the foster care system. Within 3 years we had taken in six children, comprising three pairs of biological siblings. We use to say that God brought them to our ark 2 by 2. They ranged in age from 14 months to 10 years of age at the time and are currently now ages 17 to 27. The two oldest kids are on their own. The next three kids graduated from high school last June and are currently in a “gap year” to work and decide what direction they want to take in life. The youngest one is a junior in high school. She attends two educational co-ops where she takes all of her classes now.


How did you get into homeschooling?  Our kids were in the public school system for several years. Because our kids came from hard places, they had special needs and encountered great struggles. We worked within the system until we could see that if they were going to reach any kind of potential, we had to make a change. As a teacher by profession, I was quite unaware of the world of homeschooling!  Cyberschooling became our "jumping off" point, which then quickly led to the world of traditional homeschooling. This is where we settled in and it turned out to be a true means of rescue for our kids. By keeping them home, we were able to better meet their emotional needs, which meant we could then finally get about the business of actually learning something. 


How long have you homeschooled?  We have homeschooled for 12 years now. It has been a wonderfully challenging experience. I've probably learned much more than my kids have. 


What role has HAHA played in your schooling?  After pulling all 6 kids out of public school in the summer of 2007, we began to discover the homeschool community. It was awesome - like discovering a whole new world that I didn't know existed! I quickly joined HAHA and began to connect with other homeschooling families. I found HAHA's resources, activities, field trips, and parent meetings invaluable as a beginning homeschooler.  It was a radically paradigm-shifting season for me, having come from bricks and mortar education. I loved every minute of it and felt like I had found my "community family". 


How did you become HAHA President?  In early May of this year, I learned that Jamey McClintock, the former president of HAHA, was resigning.  I had been on the Board of Directors for 2- 3 years prior to that, so although I had stepped down and was out of touch with the current state of affairs, I still knew the board members.  Eventually, the Board reached out and asked me to consider coming back in order to see HAHA through this transition in leadership. In addition to Jamey, 3 of the remaining 4 Board members were also resigning. When I finally sat down with the Board members, they asked me if I would chair the board.  By the time this question was asked, I had already thought and prayed a lot about the direction I believed HAHA needed to move in and felt a definite conviction to help. I knew it was going to be a monumental task, but I really felt that I had been prepared for this challenge and grew excited about the opportunity. 


What is your vision for HAHA?   We definitely want to continue doing what HAHA has always done - provide educational enrichment through field trips and various activities, support through offering resources, and opportunities to connect with other homeschooling families. At the same time, I feel a growing conviction that the home school community at large must unify in order to fight for our right to maintain the freedom we enjoy to educate our own kids as we see fit.  This means we need to come together and not be fragmented or in opposition to one another. We must begin looking at the bigger picture and not be ignorant or naive about the signs of the times. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I believe this to be true, so we will do something. In the coming months, we will begin to educate and mobilize our members to speak up and fight the rising tide of opposition. We are currently working on networking and partnering with multiple organizations to achieve this goal.

Additionally, I would like to see HAHA bring the homeschool community together by providing opportunities to raise the level of home educational excellence. I am an educator through and through. It’s one of my passions and I think that raising the bar in the home school community will only serve to strengthen our cause by showing the broader community that home education works, not just telling them.  We have some future plans that I am very excited about and that I think will excite all of you, too.  I envision sending our students out to the broader community as self-motivated learners, effective communicators, intelligent thinkers, and focused workers. 

Last but not least, it is on my heart that so many homeschooling moms and dads have gifts and abilities that could be used to serve the community, thereby realizing their value in that community. We will seek to provide opportunities for our members to put their gifts and abilities to good use in order to strengthen and build up the home school community. 


August 28, 2019

August 28, 2019


Dear HAHA Members,

I don’t know about you, but I had a fabulous time at Homeschoolibration! Thanks to about 250 of you for making it a great day. What a privilege it was to meet all of you. I loved watching moms enjoying time chatting with each other and seeing the happy, painted faces of children running around everywhere!  Thank you to those who helped to make it a great day - our face painters, Colleen Harlan and her team, and our Italian ice scoopers too! Thanks especially to our HAHA leaders, Aimee, Jessica, and Theresa, who helped to make this event happen.

We gained some new members as a result of HOMESCHOOLIBRATION! Yay!  As members of HAHA, I want to encourage you to familiarize yourselves with HAHA’s updated mission. Simply go to the website and before signing in, click on “About Us”.  There you will see an updated vision, mission & some goals we will be working toward. We are very excited about the future of HAHA and all that we can accomplish together. We will need volunteers to do it all, so if you’d like to get involved, be sure you have filled out the volunteer section of your profile.

NOTE - 2018-19 Members - If you have not renewed your membership by Aug. 31 you will be “parked”. Sounds like a banishment!  This means you will no longer have access to the benefits of membership...until you renew it again! So jump on that and git ‘er done!  

Last but not least, know that I am praying that God blesses each of you and your families as you continue into another year of home educating your children.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to raising great kids. 


Here for you,

Kris



TAKE A LOOK AT THESE UPDATES AND NEEDS!


  • Applications for membership are now being approved much more quickly. 

  • Even though we typically take a break from HAHA sponsored field trips in the summer months, our field trip team kept the calendar filled with opportunities and activities for you and your kids all summer long!  

  • There will soon be an updated listing of evaluators with details. It would be a great help to us for you to notfiy your evaluator to go on our website and complete the form under "I am...", "An evaluator". Please do not complete it for them! 

  • There will soon be an updated, more complete listing of co-ops, hybrid schools, and other educational options for you to explore to best meet the needs of your kids.  If you know of a co-op, hybrid school, or other alternative schools out there, ask an authorized leader to go on our website and complete the form under “I am…”, "A Co-op or Group Representative". 

  • We will begin working soon on building a resource for those families dealing with struggling learners and special needs. (Need someone to help with this. Contact Theresa Fowler if interested.)

  • We are looking for a coordinator to begin a club program. It will be very easy to coordinate! Just like Park Days - a parent comes up with a club idea, a time, and a place to hold the club (their home, a park, etc.) Then it will be offered to our HAHA families. Clubs could include chess, lego, bugs, book, American Girl, fitness, special needs,cooking, ANYTHING! Parents can offer a club that their own children want and just invite others to join! (Email me if you are interested in coordinating this endeavor.)

  • As your representatives, Jessica and I will be attending a political event in September called “The Parents Know Best Rally” at the state capitol complex. We will begin making contacts and getting up to speed with what is going on in the political world regarding our rights as homeschooling parents. We’ll keep you posted.

July 13, 2019

Hello again HAHA Family,


I am writing to keep you apprised of our progress here at “HAHA headquarters”!  We’ve been hard at work structuring leadership in order to effectively carry out our mission, which I hope you’ve had a chance to read.  We now have almost all board positions filled and are waiting on the last one to respond. 


Beyond that, we have also added a volunteer section to your profile questions which you should have filled out if you have visited the website recently and signed in. That information will greatly help us recruit help for different programs and activities in the future.  I am well aware that there are so many of you who have gifts and abilities that would be an asset to our organization. We just have to find you, so go sign in to the member side of the website soon where you will automatically be prompted to fill out the volunteer section of your profile.


Another new development we are excited about is a brand new logo for HAHA.  We are currently in the process of deciding the final design. You will begin seeing the new logo on our website and correspondence very soon! 


Lastly, the HAHA leaders and I want to invite you to a special park day in August. Please see the Save the Date postcard below.  Be on the lookout for more details very soon!


Sincerely yours,


Kris Stoddard

HAHA President

June 28, 2019


Hello HAHA Members,


I know many of you have been wondering just what is going on with HAHA!  And I’ve been anxious to report something to you for several weeks now. I am finally able to do that.  I was recently nominated and elected to the position of president of Harrisburg Area Homeschoolers Association by the former Board of Directors.  I have accepted that position and I, along with an emerging team of amazing women, each one a fellow or former homeschooling mom, are hard at work, getting things set up so that we can fill the huge shoes that Jamey McClintock and others filled for many years.  As you can imagine, this is not easily or quickly accomplished, however, things are beginning to move along nicely. In that effort we are currently working to fill leadership positions and those leaders are building teams to assist them in their respective areas of operation. 


We are excited about the future of HAHA and the ways we will be able to serve you.  Some of those ways will be the same resources and activities you have come to depend upon and appreciate. Others will be new.  I want to encourage you to visit the HAHA website over the next couple of weeks to read HAHA’s mission, check out the calendar for new field trips and yes, even renew your membership or become a new member for the first time. (We will alert members when registration for membership opens.) There will also soon be information regarding a forthcoming activity in August specifically designed for current members and those interested in membership to come and meet the new leadership team as well as hear about the mission and vision for HAHA’s future.


In the meantime, we ask for your continued patience as we rebuild and get HAHA back up to speed and smoothly clicking along.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at [email protected].


Thanks & God bless your summer!

Kris Stoddard