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Pennsylvania Home School Law

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 herself.

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.