Homeschooling in Virginia

 This week PEATC is excited to introduce Kathy Kuhl, author of multiple books including, Staying Sane as You Homeschool.  Mrs. Kuhl will be hosting an upcoming webinar entitled Manage Homeschooling Children with Special Needs,
through PEATC on May 2, 2017 at 11 am.  Registration URL:

Homeschooling in Virginia

by Kathy Kuhl

Though I work with families across North America and in Europe, I often hear from parents here in Virginia. Often, these parents have never homeschooled before. Today I offer some advice for these Virginians; next week I’ll have some general tips for beginning homeschoolers with children who learn differently.

In Virginia, to homeschooling legally, you must notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool. This “Notice of Intent” doesn’t have to be done with a form, though some school districts provide one. (A few county’s forms ask for more information than the law requires you to give.) You can send in a letter or use the sample forms at the links below, as long as you meet the requirements of the law.

Virginia has two state homeschool organizations, Home Educators Association of Virginia and the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. Both have excellent websites. These websites both have information and good advice on submitting your notice of intent, as you’ll see in the links below.

Remember, when you submit a notice of intent, you are not asking permission to homeschool, and you will not be obtaining a teacher’s license.

You can find the Guidelines for Home Instruction in Virginia here.

Here’s a good explanation of the homeschool law in VA, with lots of helpful links embedded in it, from the Home Education Association of VA. (BTW, I am not a lawyer, and neither this nor the websites should be construed as legal advice.) As an introduction to the law, I particularly like this flow chart.

There’s lots of helpful information here on HEAV’s site on beginning homeschooling in general. HEAV also gives seminars and webinars on “How to Begin” and other topics.

And our other state organization, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, has great resources as well. They do a great job keeping up on legislation that affects homeschoolers in Virginia. I especially like their video introduction to homeschooling.

What about hiring someone to teach my child?

Some parents want to find tutors to homeschool their children. In Virginia, you may hire a tutor who is a certified teacher, but then you aren’t officially homeschooling. You fall under Virginia’s “certified tutor provision,” as described here. Requirements are different.

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC

PEATC is proud to introduce our guest blogger, Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC.  Noel will also be hosting a webinar with PEATC on April 4, 2017, at 11 am. Registration for that event can be found here:

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

With a loud cry Julie, a non-verbal teen with autism, burst into the music therapy room. We headed straight to the piano and she began banging forcefully on the keys. I accompanied her in a very structured, rhythmic manner, adding little nuisances that matched her playing. This gave her a sense of grounding and also demonstrated empathy. Initially, I matched her quick rhythm, but then gently slowed. This helped meet Julie where she was, but also supported emotional regulation. As Julie cried, I consciously echoed her in singing a similar inflection. Our musical conversation again established a sense of empathy and understanding that I was there to listen. Within a few moments, she stopped crying and regained a calm disposition. We continued to play and “converse” on the piano as Julie’s affect grew brighter and brighter.

Through our playing, Julie, though non-verbal, expressed her feelings and was able to be heard. By imitating Julie’s playing, I was able to express empathy, while the steady rhythm helped ground Julie and allow her to regulate her emotions. This is music therapy.

Music therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to improve the well-being and health of individuals, young and old. A board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) may address social, emotional, cognitive, physical, or speech and language needs through music interventions.

Within the field of music therapy, there are specialized areas of study. One such concentration is Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT), which is defined as, “The therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system” (Thaut, 2005). Within NMT there are currently 20 standardized therapeutic music interventions used to meet various neurological needs. Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance, or TIMP, “Uses the playing of musical instruments to exercise and simulate functional movement patterns”. Instruments may be played non-traditionally, such as marching on tambourines placed on the floor. In this case, the client may be strengthening hip flexors and increasing range of motion. Musical Executive Function Training (MEFT) is another technique used within NMT. By the use of improvisation (spontaneous music making) and composition, executive functioning skills such as organization, problem-solving, decision-making, and reasoning are practiced. Through music therapy, functional gains are made and positive changes are achieved.

Anderson Music Therapy Services’ mission is to “facilitate positive change through music by supporting our clients, families, and community”. This is why we exist. Though we serve a wide range of persons, we specialize in working with individuals who have various developmental and neurological disabilities including; cerebral palsy, chromosomal abnormalities, intellectual disabilities, brain injury, and autism.

Consultations are offered free of charge to answer questions and discuss the benefits of music therapy.

Noel Anderson is a board certified music therapist, neurologic music therapist, certified music educator, and vocalist.

For more information about Anderson Music Therapy Services, visit

For more information about Music Therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website, at

Thaut, M.H. (2005). Rhythm, Music and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Application. New York, New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Transition to Middle School

Published on Apr 20, 2016

Join us and explore transition into middle school. What may stay the same and what may change? Where can you find information and support? Mr. Bill Gulgert, Assistant Principal of Stone Hill MS will share with Virginia families a small blueprint for how to get prepared, stay informed and reduce the stress of middle school transition.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Mr William Gulgert, AP Stone Hill MS

Bill Gulgert is a father of three and an assistant principal at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA. Bill has been in education for 25 years and has experience as a high school and middle school math teacher in special education as well as an instructional leader at both levels. He is a doctoral candidate at Shenandoah University and has earned his MS in Leadership at Shenandoah University. As an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, Bill is able to prepare teachers with abilities which offer individualized and differentiated best practices to all students.

Resource Round Up – UDL

PEATC has a new fact sheet on Universal Design for Learning available on our website.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to curriculum design that can help teachers customize curriculum to serve all learners, regardless of ability, disability, age, gender, or cultural and linguistic background. UDL provides a blueprint for designing strategies, materials, assessments, and tools to reach and teach students with diverse needs.

You can find out more and print your own copy of our UDL fact sheet right here.


Virginia Regulatory Update on Seclusion and Restraint


Learn about ways to participate in the process

 The most recent draft of the Second Review of Proposed Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia (Proposed Stage) is available HERE

 Public Participation in the Regulatory Process

 There are many ways the public can participate in the regulatory process and make their voice heard. These opportunities include making a public comment, attending board meetings, and public hearings.

 For more information and to learn more about participation processes please click HERE


The peatc youth Project

Does your brain ever sometimes feel like a tornado is in there? Sometimes it’s hard for us to control our feelings, or focus on a task, or to even relax and unwind. Sometimes when this happens we can get cranky. Guess what?! It’s not just you who has those feelings. A lot of kids feel this way sometimes; and even grown ups too. Do you have something special you do when you get those feelings? Well sometimes one of the easiest things you can do is something you do everyday….breathe. If you practice breathing to slow down that brain tornado you are practicing becoming Mindful. That means you are aware that something is going on in your body or that you may be losing control and you know how to start to help yourself try to control it.

Check out these videos of some kids who may feel like…

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You’re Invited!!!


Please join us on November 3, 2016, between 3pm – 7pm for an Open House.

Come learn about our outreach initiatives and how we serve families throughout the state of Virginia!

Our PEATC initiatives include:

  • Parent Engagement
  • Latino Outreach
  • Military
  • Early Childhood
  • Rural Outreach

For purposes of refreshments and resources kindly RSVP here:


Putting the Pieces Together: Organization, Rewards, Success!


avian_headshotPEATC is excited to host a guest blogger this month! Avian Mills, Organizational Design Specialist, CEO of Closets & Kids will also join us on October 20th at 11am for a live webinar entitled Organization, Rewards, and Success! Registration for our upcoming event can be found here:

We hope you enjoy her blog post!


Putting the Pieces Together:puzzle-jpg Organization, Rewards, Success!

Typically, you wouldn’t open a puzzle and just start jamming pieces together.  You take out all the pieces, lay them out so you can familiarize yourself with them, and you may even organize them in like groups to make it that much easier to complete.  You spend time looking at the pieces to see how they fit with others and you try some combinations here and there until things start fitting into place.  Gradually, you start to see the big picture, and then those last few pieces fit in effortlessly.  You feel accomplished and proud.

I say all of that to help paint a picture of how the journey to organization should look and feel for us from childhood into adulthood.  Unfortunately, though, we are approaching the development of organizational skills in more of a “jamming it together” type of fashion.  As a result, we are drowning from day to day in our own physical and mental STUFF.

Organization or the lack there of, is responsible for about 75% of a human’s higher level thinking processes.  So about 8 times out of 10, if you’re stressed, it’s because of disorganization in some realm of your life.  The problem is that in the midst of all of that busy that we have going on, we are not equipping our children with solid introductory organizational skills.  There are three major factors that contribute to strong organizational skills that we are only grazing over in the development of our little kiddies today.  The “Organize, Reward, Success!” webinar, is going to help to put this issue into perspective and provide some tips to change the course of your child’s relationship with organization.  These tips will get you started:

  1. Be intentional. There are so many chances for a parent or educator to practice the basics of organization and cleaning with their children.  Intentional seizing those opportunities needs to start early and needs to be of quality.  When you are practicing organizing basics as much as we are reading to them, things will become normal and effortless for them.
  2. Be consistent. For children, things stick when they can count on them being there. For example, if you and your little one washed dishes together today, but didn’t do it again for three months due to “not having enough time” to allow them to do it on their level of skill, then the child will not relate to it as being a routine activity.  That becomes a part of how the relationship will always be viewed.  Thus creating inconsistency in their want to complete the task as an adult.  Being consistent also gives them the opportunity to practice and get better at doing it, and even like it.
  3. Be creative! Children are naturally learning when they are playing and having fun. Studies have shown that this type of learning helps children to make the things they learn more concrete.  It’s important to creatively engage your little ones when doing things like cleaning their room.  Instead of just picking up toys, maybe you are both pirates trying to find treasure for your treasure chest.  We have to capitalize on the short time when things like this will keep them interested.

Giving children their figurative “organizational skills puzzle pieces” early in life, they will be so familiar with the pieces that they can throw them together in their sleep.  It is time to stop jamming the pieces together, and actually allow our little ones to build a strong organizational skills foundation by familiarizing them with the pieces first.  I hope this helps you to get off on the right foot!


Organize away!

Avian Mills, Closets & Kids