Pennsylvania has some of the stricter laws concerning
home education, but once you know what they are it's
on to the important stuff !
Here are some of the basics of the Pennsylvania
home school law:
1) Children must be registered with the school when
they are 8 years old. It is not necessary to go to
the school for an interview. You can call the
superintendent's secretary and ask her to send you
an affidavit and 'list of objectives form'.
2) Fill out the affidavit and have it notorized. The subjects
required by law are listed on the form.
The list of objectives is an outline of
what you hope to accomplish over the year.
The school may not hold you to the objectives. Should
you decide to change your course of studies anytime
over the year you may do so without notifying the
school. Please see my objectives page for ideas on how to write objectives.
3) You must keep a contemporaneously written log
of what you do each day that you have school.
Some people use checkmarks in subject areas,
others write detailed accounts of their activities.
The format is your choice. It is not necessary to be
extremely elaborate, detailed and extravagant here.
After all, it is the child's work that is being evaluated, not yours.
4) The law requires that children in elementary
school (grades1-6) receive 180 days or 900 hours of
instruction. Children in secondary grades (7-12) are
to receive 180 days or 990 hours of instruction. You
may choose days or hours. Remember to count
outside play as PE, because it is! Remember
to count the Sunday Funnies as READING, because it is! Remember to
count the program you all watched and talked about as
SOCIAL STUDIES, because it is! Never underestimate the
educational value of everyday adventures.
5) Children must be tested in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades,
and the results entered into the child's portfolio.
This testing can be done through the public school,
homeschool organizations, or at home. The test may
be administered by anyone other than the parents.
A friend, neighbor, grandparent, older sibling, are
all acceptable choices.
The only required subjects for testing are math and
English. I like to do the whole battery so I can see
how well they are doing in all the subjects. It is
your option to record all the scores or only the
required subject scores into the portfolio.
6) At the end of the year comes the fun part.
Putting together a portfolio showing all
that you've done is fun and rewarding.
Included in your portfolio should
be your log of days, test results (if applicable),
and samples of your child's work in the required
subjects. I like to treat the portfolio like a
scrapbook that my children will cherish, adding
photos, artwork and stories that they have written.
My children make a 'Page About Me' where they write a
short summary of their interests, make a handprint
and put a photo of themselves. Your portfolio is a
treasure that should reflect the joy of homeschooling.
Keep the perspective that you and your family are the audience
of the portfolio.
7) After you have finished your portfolio your
child must be evaluated by a certified evaluator.
PA Homeschoolers Newsletter (find a copy at the
library) has a list of evaluators for PA. At the
evaluation the evaluator will interview you and your
child. This is fun. You get to show off your work and
talk about your adventures. It is important to choose
an evaluator that your child feels comfortable with,
and who has an understanding of what homeschooling
is about. Ultimately, the evaluator is a homeschooler
8) Shortly, you will receive a letter in the mail
from the evaluator. It will, hopefully, certify that
your child is receiving an appropriate education.
That letter is included in your portfolio. At this
point, you take the entire portfolio to the super
intendent's office and drop it off for the super
intendent to review. It is not a legal requirement
to be present when the super reviews your portfolio.
Nor is it required that your children be interviewed
by the super. That has already taken place with the
evaluator you have selected.
If you have problems with your district and you are clear on the law
you may contact the Department of Education. They are very helpful.