Thinking about homeschooling in Pennsylvania? Wondering what laws you’ll need to follow? Don’t worry; we’re here to get you started.
Generally, you must officially begin homeschooling when your child turns 8. (Philadelphia parents must begin when their child is 6, unless they send a notice of their intent to begin before the child turns 8.)
5-Step Guide to Complying with Pennsylvania’s Homeschool Law
Give Yourself the Official Title of Supervisor
If you are going to be providing the instruction, you are the supervisor. If you don’t have a high school diploma or its equivalent, then you’ll need to assign this role to someone who does.
File a Notarized Affidavit with Your Local School District Superintendent
This must be sent before you start homeschooling for the first time and then sent again every year by August 1st.
There is specific information that must be included in the affidavit. I recommend using the HSLDA affidavit form, or the one provided by the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) on their website, to make sure your affidavit includes all of this required information.
Teach Your Child
But don’t pressure yourself to make your homeschool look or feel like a traditional school. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that parents can adjust their program, schedule, or teaching style to meet the specific needs of each child.
You are required to provide instruction for either 180 days or a certain number of hours (900 hours during grades K-6 and 990 hours during grades 7-12).
Keep Good Records
Pennsylvania requires you to keep three different kinds of records:
• The log. This should be maintained throughout the year while you’re providing instruction.
• Work samples. Don’t feel like you have to keep everything, but keep sufficient samples throughout the year to demonstrate your child’s progress.
• Test scores. These are only required in grades 3, 5, and 8. The Department of Education keeps a list of acceptable tests—you can read that list here.
Put these records in a file for each student. They will make up his or her portfolio, which will be used to demonstrate that your child is making progress. I recommend keeping these records for a minimum of two years and hanging on to high school records permanently.
Find a Qualified Evaluator
This evaluator (usually a certified teacher) will review your portfolio, talk with your child, and provide a certification that you provided an “appropriate education.” This means that you taught the required subjects for the required amount of time and that your child made progress. You must send this certification to the superintendent’s office by June 30 each year.
For a list of qualified evaluators who have indicated a willingness to work with homeschoolers, go here.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. Homeschooling is hard work, but you will get better at it as you gain more experience. Don’t expect to become an expert on your first day, month, or even year. Just stick with it!
Daniel T. Beasley serves as HSLDA’s contact attorney for Pennsylvania and 12 other states. He regularly corresponds with Pennsylvania school officials and government agencies regarding the legalities and effectiveness of homeschooling. He also analyzes and tracks legislation related to homeschooling. He and his wife, Bethany, are homeschool graduates and have begun homeschooling their two young children. You can learn more about Daniel and homeschooling in Pennsylvania at www.hslda.org.
Daniel was also a guest speaker at the 2016 #TrustParents rally held at Demme Learning’s headquarters. You can watch excerpts from the rally here.
We asked our local HSLDA representative, Daniel Beasley, to give us an overview of how to get started homeschooling in Pennsylvania. Many of these tips will apply to your state, too, but check with HSLDA to make sure.