Homeschooling is an option for parents and guardians in Philadelphia who prefer to educate their children at home. Recent data indicate that fewer than 500 students in the city are homeschooled each year.
Homeschooling doesn’t mean simply not sending kids to school. Education—whether at home or school—is required in Pennsylvania up until age 17. There are many requirements for homeschooling, and it is recommended that parents review the PA Department of Education website before fully considering this option. This article only provides a summary of the requirements and some things to consider before choosing to homeschool your child.
According to Pennsylvania law, homeschooling is a right. A parent does not need the school district’s permission, but you must submit an affidavit (a legal form) with required documentation to the school district. More details about this process are available online here. In Philadelphia, children must enroll in school by age 6, so parents must submit an “Intent to Homeschool” letter by age 6 and submit the affidavit by age 8.
Under Pennsylvania law, all children ages 8 to 17 must have at least 180 days of instruction. The instruction in a home school must be led by a “home education supervisor,” who can be a paid tutor with a Pennsylvania teacher’s certificate, a parent or a legal guardian. There are specific legal requirements for a supervisor or tutor. Importantly, if a parent or legal guardian wants to teach a child at home, he or she must have a high school diploma or a GED. Additional requirements for tutors are available online here.
A Homeschool Education
Pennsylvania law sets the academic requirements for homeschooled students in elementary and high school. Required courses include traditional academic subjects, as well as music, art and physical education. A supervisor can request academic materials from the school district, which is required to lend textbooks and other necessary materials.
The school district oversees a child’s education by reviewing the student’s academic portfolio—including reading materials, writing samples and worksheets—every year. In addition, homeschooled students in grades 3, 5 and 8 must take standardized tests in reading/language arts and mathematics. The results are included in the student’s portfolio. If the child is not making enough progress, the district has the authority to stop the education program.
Under Pennsylvania law, homeschooled students are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at their neighborhood’s public school. These activities include sports, drama, music and clubs. Go to your neighborhood district school and tell them you are homeschooling to learn more about the activities available at that school.
For additional information, contact: Suzanne Tallman