Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pennsylvania Homeschooling Adventure, Part I

I tried to give a talk on Saturday at the Greater Pittsburgh Homeschool Workshop about putting together portfolios.  I was sleep deprived, so my mind wasn't working well at all.  It was probably the worst talk I've ever tried to give.  This series of blogs, then, is my attempt to rectify my failure.  Hopefully some of the people who left just as confused as when they started will find this blog and gain some valuable information from it.  One of my deepest desires is to be a resource to people who have questions that I am able to find the answers for.  So, here we go...

First and foremost, if you feel God calling you to homeschool, do not disobey.  He will reward you in so many ways. You will wonder why you ever doubted you could do it.  Besides, it is not you doing it alone.  God will be with you EVERY step of the way, even on the days when you are pulling out your hair because your kids just aren't sitting still to do the work.  (I have many of those days.)

Second, if you are even considering homeschooling, contact your school district's administrative office and let them know you are thinking about homeschooling.  They will most likely send you a packet of information about requirements.

The third thing I would recommend before getting started is obtaining a copy of the PA Homeschool Law.  This can be purchased from PA Homeschoolers or viewed on their website at http://www.pahomeschoolers.com/act169.html.  This will give you information on specific items that are required by the state of Pennsylvania to keep you in compliance with the law.

When do you need to start keeping records for homeschooling or, as I like to phrase it, when does the school district need to know my child exists?  If you have had your child in first grade (not kindergarten) for at least one day and decide to pull them out, you need to file your affidavit and objectives and turn in a portfolio at the end of the year (to be discussed later).  If you haven't had your child in school yet and they don't turn 8 until after September 1st (or whatever your school's cutoff date for birthdays is), you don't need to let your district know they exist.  If your child has not been in public, private, or charter school before they turn 8, the first full school year after they turn 8 is the year in which you need to file your affidavit, objectives, medical and dental records, have your child evaluated at the end of the year and turn in a portfolio.

An notarized affidavit is to be filed "prior to the commencement of the home education program and annually thereafter on August 1st."  You can find an affidavit at http://files.chaponline.com/docs/forms/Affidavit_Form.pdf.  This form is your documentation that you are the superintendent of the home education program, that you will teach the required subjects, that no one in the home has been convicted of a felony, that your child has been immunized (unless religiously exempt), and that your child has had the required medical exams.  It MUST be notarized.  All of the children you are homeschooling can be included on the same form.  You do not need a separate form for each child.

The required subjects for elementary are:  English, to include spelling, reading, and writing; arithmetic;  science; geography; civics; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; art; music; physical education; health and physiology; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

At the secondary level, the required subjects are: English, to include language, literature, speech and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, and geometry; art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

Next, writing objectives.......

*If you have any tips or suggestions regarding anything in this specific blog, please message me.  I will consider adding your thoughts to my blog.

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