Interested in Unschooling in Pennsylvania? We can help

We’re lucky to be living in a country that allows parents to take their kids out of school and educate them at home. However, there are still often a lot of regulations placed on homeschoolers, especially if you’re living in a stricter state like Pennsylvania.

This can be a problem if you want to do unschooling — that is, to let your children chart their own educational courses on their own timelines. How do you give your kids authentic freedom if they have to take tests and are required to learn certain subjects by law? In this article we’ll explain what the requirements are, and then explore loopholes that can get you out of them.

Pennsylvania’s Regulations

In Pennsylvania, there are four options to homeschool your children: 1) Homeschooling under the homeschool statute, 2) Homeschooling with a private tutor, 3) Enrolling your child in a satellite of a religious day school, and 4) Enrolling your child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school. 

1) Homeschooling under the homeschool statute: 

  • Must have high school diploma/equivalent to teach
  • Must file a notarized affidavit which includes the following: 
  • Must provide 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary school level and 180 days or 990 hours at the secondary level and teach a large list of conventional subjects
  • Standardized testing (either tests approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education or the the Statewide tests administered to public school students) in grades 3, 5, and 8 (the parent cannot be the test administrator)
  • Must have child evaluated by a qualified evaluator and submit the evaluator’s certification annually

2) Homeschooling with a private tutor:

  • Tutor requirements:
    • Must be certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to teach in the public schools of Pennsylvania
    • Must provide the majority of the instruction
    • Must receive a fee or other consideration for teaching
    • Must file a copy of his/her Pennsylvania certification and the required criminal history record with the superintendent of the school districts where the children live 

3) Enrolling your child in a satellite of a religious day school

  • Must provide the required days, hours, and subjects listed in “Option 1: Homeschooling under the homeschool statute”
  • Must file an notarized affidavit with the Department of Education
  • Must report the names and residences of all enrolled children

4) Enrolling your child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school

  • Must be accredited by an accrediting association approved by the State Board of Education

Loophole #1: Check with your local school district

If you are a homeschooler in Pennsylvania, you are required by law to abide by the above regulations. However, these regulations may or may not be enforced at the local level. If you are interested in unschooling, you can give your local school district a call to find out what guidelines they actually enforce.

This can go the other way too. If your local school district is asking for something that is not required by the state, there are homeschool legal defense associations that will step in and help you maintain your rights.

Loophole #2: Online self-directed private school

If your child is enrolled in a private school, they are not considered a homeschooler and are exempt from all homeschooling regulations.

But isn’t the whole point of unschooling that the child is not in a school?

Enter The Open School. We have a virtual program that you can enroll in from anywhere in the world. And as a self-directed school, our program is perfectly aligned with unschooling. We have no required subjects and no tests. Instead, students design virtual activities to do with other students and staff, including art projects, video games, workshops, one-on-one lessons, and anything else you can imagine. It’s a community of self-directed learners, and a great place for unschoolers to make deep, lasting friendships.

If you want your child to be a free learner in Pennsylvania, without being subject to testing or a strict curriculum, a virtual private school may be your best bet. You can read more about our virtual program, or contact us directly, by clicking one of the buttons below.

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