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  1. #1

    Default Experienced homeschool parents, please help!!

    Hi! Iíve been homeschooling my daughter since she was about 3. She recently turned 6 and so, she is almost of compulsory school age. I just want to make sure weíre prepared for that time. We are in Pennsylvania (not Philadelphia area, though).

    I suppose I just have a lot of questions about filing with the school district once she turns 8. Iíve read the laws and could probably read them again and again to be sure, but I really want experienced homeschooler advice. Iíd like to be completely clear of what is expected. In your experience, what was the process like, what sources did you use to prepare, etc.? If anyone who homeschools in PA can help me prepare, it would be so greatly appreciated.

    It would really ease my mind to know exactly what should be included in the portfolio, as well. Also, how do I let the school district know Iím homeschooling and how do I file? How do I go about hiring an evaluator and when? Am I required to have a copy of my diploma included in the portfolio? When and how to go about taking the first standardized test in 3rd grade? How are the separate advancements of my child in each subject taken into consideration (for example, sheís doing math at a second grade level, but still reading at a first grade level)? I have so many questions!

    I want to make sure everything is in compliance with the law and Iím so confused about where to begin. Thereís so much literature on it and my brain is trying to juggle all this information at once. I could really use a rundown of what a typical situation is like when your child is of compulsory school age and what is required. Any and all information would be helpful! Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2


    Welcome back!
    On paper, Penn seems to have one of the most onerous homeschooling requirements of any state. In practice, though, I dont think its much more than any other place. The portfolio review sounds more intimidatinf than it is.
    Your best bet is to have someone local hold your hand and explain how things actually are.
    The intent behind the stateís law is to cover their butt that each child is learning and progressing each year. They wont care that she is at different levels, as long as she is progressing.
    There is a list of approved standardized tests, you either buy and proctor it yourself, or have someone the state approves do it (I dont remember off hand how Penn does it).
    There should be plenty of portfolio reviewers, you would coordinate with them the things theyre looking for. Its not like youre taking your kids work to an officious judge who is going to grade you on what youíve done! Itís maybe more like hiring a lawyer to help you through paperwork - they work FOR you, not against you.
    Through the school year, you may want to keep in mind the portfolio, and have a paper trail of your activities. Language Arts and Math are pretty obvious for paperwork, for social studies you may want to have completed Junior Ranger activities (Like when you visit Valley Forge or the Liberty Bell, for example. Or flat artwork related to holidays or places around the world that you studied.
    I am required to provide work samples every other month for all the core subjects, and for my little one it is sometimes photos from field trips (staged to look particularly Ďeducationalí), or activity pages from Ranger Rick magazine. Just being mindful of looking for ways to document what you do should leave you in a good place for the Portfolio Review.
    Dont panic!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Enlightened Artmama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015


    I am in NYC so can't speak directly to the requirements that you will have, but I can say that in my experience the list of requirements tends to look a lot more daunting than it is. Here we have to file a letter of intent followed by an Individualized home instruction plan (IHIP), then quarterly reports and finally an Annual Assessment. We haven't had to deal with the testing/assessments yet since those are not required until 4th grade - next year. It may look like a big ugly list, but with a little explanation from homeschool families who had done it before, it turns out to be not bad at all.

    Though we do not need to keep a portfolio there are a couple of things that we do to keep track of what we have done. DD decided a few years ago that she wanted a daily to-do list similar to the public school kids I was babysitting at the time received as homework sheets. Not only has it helped her with time management skills, it also acts as a calendar detail for me when I write up the corresponding paperwork. The other thing that we have is her Field Trip Journal. Every time we go on a significant adventure (museum trip, one time class, cultural festival, concert, etc) she logs a short entry along with a picture or some piece of memorabilia. This usually yields a few entries a month. (A bonus - it has proven a nice piece for her to share with extended family who are skeptical of her homeschooling being a 'real' education.)

    Best of Luck!

  5. #4


    Thanks all for your replies. It is very difficult for us to do co op with other homeschool families, as I don’t currently have a vehicle and my husband works a lot. So, the only information I’m able to obtain is via the internet. I appreciate your responses. I’ll try not to fret, but it’s difficult, lol. If anyone else has info, I’d love to hear it! Thanks guys!

  6. #5


    Sorry I cannot help with homeschool requirements in your specific area – we live in New Zealand so rather far away! – but we did have to do an intensive application. Fourteen pages of answering questions about how you would homeschool and keep records/monitor progress. It seemed daunting and confusing to start. My advice is just to start. Open up a Word document. Put in some headings, bullet point lists, images of work you have done. Just collate it all and add to it over time. Then reorganize it and fill it out over time as the structure becomes clearer to you. But if you wait for the perfect time for you to understand it all and know clearly what you have to do, that time may never come and you may end up doing it in a rush.

    It is like any big project. It is best to start small first. Like when I did my PhD, we had to write up our Introduction in our first year. And think about the structure of the rest of the chapters. Just so we got on that path of thinking, writing, and planning early on.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

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Experienced homeschool parents, please help!!