Three Ways to Keep Your Child Engaged During the Holiday Season

Fireplace reading










In the cyber setting, we know our Learning Coaches go above and beyond each day to be a part of their child’s educational journey. A PA Virtual, we know that when parents are engaged and supportive of what their child is learning, the child is more likely to succeed.  However, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is enough to distract even the most attentive family. How can you keep students focused as the holidays approach this year?

  1. Spruce up your learning workstation! With the holidays approaching, it is a time when many decorate their homes inside and out. But what will you do with your child’s workspace? By now, your child has decided what their favorite space for school is in the home, but how can you organize or restructure that to give them a more conducive learning environment?
    • Organize an end of semester clean out to declutter papers that have piled up since September
    • Hang twinkle lights to brighten up their personal space
    • Keep an extra pillow or blanket handy and create a cozy reading space as the temperatures drop 
  2. Traveling? The beauty of cyber education is that students can take their virtual classroom anywhere. If you find yourself traveling this holiday season while classes are still in session, you can take the opportunity to share with your extended family some of the benefits of cyber education! However, to ensure student success while traveling do your best to:
    • Secure a strong wifi connection
    • Make sure you know of all upcoming deadlines
    • Even in a house full of family or a hotel – try and find a designated space for school with as few distractions as possible 
  3. Get out of the house! PA Virtual offers socialization events year round for our students in various regions, but during the winter months, we start to see the same faces over and over. These outings, sponsored by our Family Support Coordinators are a fun way to meet new people and sometimes even give back to the community. For a full list of upcoming events in December and January make sure to check out our FSC /Outing Information Main Page. Here you will also find:
    • Helpful parent resources
    • Family Support Coordinator contact information
    • Information on PA Virtual College Tours

Don’t let your holiday spirit make you lose focus! Parents, what do you do to stay active and engaged in your child’s learning experience during the hectic holiday season?

PA Virtual Gives Back

PA Virtual Service Learning- Water Street Mission

Each month PA Virtual hosts a number of outings across the state for students and families to encourage socialization and provide support. PA Virtual is proud to partner with local community service and outreach organizations throughout Pennsylvania, teaching students that they really can make a difference in their community.

The nature of the outings varies, but typically there is an educational or service learning component built into the event! This November, our Family Support Coordinators (FSC’s) organized a number of service learning events as we approach the holidays.

Ugly Quilts

An annual favorite outing gathers children together to make Ugly Quilts for local homeless shelters. An Ugly Quilt can best be described as an emergency sleeping bag. Made from recycled fabrics, the Quilt’s sole purpose is to provide warmth to those who need it most. Families in attendance were encouraged to bring new, clean socks, gloves, scarves & hats. Travel size toiletries are also included with each quilt when donated.

In East Stroudsburg, FSC Dana Ciccotti organized the quilt making with an added twist. At the Loder Senior Center, PA Virtual students were assisted by senior citizens in their community to make the quilts which will eventually be distributed to the Street 2 Feet Outreach Center in East Stroudsburg.

Water Street Mission

In Lancaster, FSC Heidi Lightner brought students together to experience the vast outreach Water Street Mission has in their region. WSM provides food and shelter to homeless in the area, but depending on the needs of the individual, provides access to medical and dental care, behavioral health, spiritual, and career support.

Students who attended the outing learned about Water Street Mission and the importance of volunteerism and how the WSM benefits from its volunteers. After an introductory video, hour tour and lunch on site, the students created holiday placemats for the many meals served at WSM. Students were able to see first-hand how the organization gives back to community and how donations and volunteerism keep them going.

PA Virtual organizes service learning opportunities that give students a chance to give back to their communities and socialize with friends!

PA Virtual Family Spotlight: The Bunn Family

PA Virtual Family Spotlight: The Bunn FamilyAfter moving to Philadelphia from Florida, Keith and Tracy Bunn took a good look at the educational options in their new home town. Feeling discouraged, they started to look into alternatives and found PA Virtual.

The flexibility of cyber school appealed to the family. Triplets Keith, Kameryn and Kayla were enrolled as first grade students and have been with PA Virtual ever since. Older brother Tyler is also a student, all four learning crucial time management skills to balance school with time honing their tennis skills. Often times, Keith Sr. gets the kids up and started on school work early, giving them extra free time on the courts in the afternoons, in addition to the coaching they receive at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education.

“Keith and Kameryn practice many hours a week,” said Keith Sr. “If my children were in a traditional brick and mortar school, they wouldn’t be able to play at the level they are currently. PA Virtual students have the ability to study at their own pace, on their own schedule, and in my opinion is an A+ online educational experience.”

While Kayla and Tyler play recreationally, it is the competitive drive of Kameryn and Keith that keeps the family busy year round. They both currently hold titles from the American Tennis National Championships held this past summer in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Keith Jr. took home the boys 12 year old singles title at the American Tennis National Championship and Kameryn holds the girls 12 year old doubles title.

“Tennis is a year round sport, and we really enjoy the ability to stay connected and up to date in school when we travel,” said Keith Sr. “It’s so easy to just pack up the laptops next to the rackets and know that they won’t miss a beat.”


Election Day is November 8th!

Election Day 2016

The 2016 Election has certainly been one that will go down in history, regardless of the outcome. While we can’t predict who will win, we wanted to make sure that our students and families know how important it is to have your voice heard!

At PA Virtual, we are always encouraging our students to give back to their communities – there is no better way to give back, than to vote. Many people think that their vote can’t make a difference, but especially at the local and state levels, one vote may be all you need to have your candidate pull through.

Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI), is a national civic education program based at the University of Virginia Center for Politics that hosts the largest secure, online student-only mock election in the nation.

Studies have shown that election-related lesson plans often encourage future political participation in younger students. Programs like YLI give students the opportunity to learn about and become excited about our country’s history and democracy.

For younger students, this election cycle has certainly been stressful on parents struggling to find the best ways to educate children about the issues. While the issues at hand may be better understood by older students, younger ones could benefit from simply learning how the process works. PBS recently put together a great toolkit (Helping Kids Understand the Election) for parents on the best ways to teach children about voting and how kids can be involved!

Another organization dedicated to building political power in young adults and teens is Rock the Vote. Since the 1990’s they have used top trending musical artists, actors and celebrities to help spread their message and engage those on the cusp of turning 18.

No matter what age, remind students that politics isn’t boring – take them to the polls! It is important to teach future voters that the political process should engage, inspire, and affect real and lasting change. So, on November 8, encourage those around you to be a part of history and get out and vote!

Don’t know where to go? Find your polling place and make a plan.


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PA Virtual Senior Organizes Four-Day Fundraising Event


Kim McGuckin of Bucks County has always stressed to her children how important it is to give back to the community. Kim and her two sons Peirce and Conor have been volunteering with The Breathing Room Foundation for over a decade. The Breathing Room provides support and care to families facing cancer in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

“I have always wanted to teach my children that cancer doesn’t discriminate,” said Kim. “We can help a family and give them a sense of control when everything seems like it is spinning out of control. I push my children to always look beyond themselves, and for us cyber education is the perfect way to do that.”

Due to the flexibility of cyber education, Peirce, a PA Virtual senior has turned his Graduation Project into a four-day fundraising event for the foundation!

On November 10-13, a four-day marathon of fundraising events to support The Breathing Room Foundation will take place in Peddler’s Village. Over the course of the weekend, shoppers can take part in a tasting event (Thursday), a Painting for Love event with artist Dani Giovi (Friday), and endless shopping, live music, artisan co-ops and more throughout the weekend. A fundraiser of this magnitude is certain to draw shoppers and create awareness for the foundation – which is the end goal for Peirce.

In addition to working part time at Bekky’s Village Workshop in Peddler’s Village, he uses his time between online classes to build relationships with other artisans in the shops and get them involved in the event, which doubles as his graduation project, a requirement for all PA Virtual students who graduate.

Younger brother Conor is also an active volunteer at The Breathing Room, helping run their annual backyard fair where families come and enjoy carnival type games. Conor also participates in Odyssey of the Mind at his former brick and mortar school.

Giving back to the community is a key component of PA Virtual’s school model. In addition to sponsoring school-wide community-based service learning projects each month, the school encourages students to be active in their community in their own way. For the McGuckin family, giving back is just a part of who they are.