Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws between the ages of 8 and 17 years.
Philadelphia’s compulsory school age is 6. This early age requirement does not apply if you plan to conduct a home education program for your child and file a notice of this with the superintendent of your local school district.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized in your state's law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver's license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members are also eligible to use the sample letter of withdrawal for their state, available in Member Resources, to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
In Pennsylvania, you have several legal options under which you may choose to operate your homeschool program. Follow the steps listed below the option you wish to use:
Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:
You must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent to teach in a homeschool.
A notarized affidavit must be filed with the local superintendent before you start your homeschool program and by August 1 of each year after that. Affidavit forms are available on HSLDA’s website. The affidavit must include the following information:
Here is what to do if you have a student who has been identified under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as needing special education services (not including those identified as gifted and/or talented): You must have your home education program approved by a state-certified special education teacher or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist. The written approval must be submitted with your notarized affidavit.
Note: The Pennsylvania Department of Education has taken the position that if you terminate your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), the requirement for approval of your child’s home education program no longer applies, and the school district will not provide services.
You must teach 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary school level and 180 days or 990 hours at the secondary level. The following courses must be taught:
Elementary-Level (K–6th grade) Required Courses
Secondary-Level (7th–12th grade) Required Courses
High School Graduation Requirements
Included in the portfolio must be the following documentation:
Your child’s portfolio must be submitted for an annual written evaluation by (1) a licensed psychologist, (2) or a teacher certified by the state (with two years of teaching experience), (3) or a nonpublic school teacher or administrator (who must have at least two years’ teaching experience in the last 10 years in public or nonpublic schools). At the request of the homeschooling parent/supervisor, a person with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the local superintendent.
The evaluation must be based on an interview of your child and a review of the portfolio, and it “shall certify whether or not an appropriate education is occurring.” State law defines an “appropriate education” as “instruction in the required subjects for the time required in this act and in which the student demonstrates sustained progress in the overall program.”
One place you can find an evaluator is on the website of the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP).
By June 30 each year, you must submit to the local superintendent a copy of the evaluator’s certification that your child is receiving an appropriate education.
Additionally, if the superintendent has a reasonable belief at any time during the school year that an appropriate education may not be occurring, he or she may send you a letter requiring that an evaluation be conducted and that an evaluator’s certification be submitted within 30 days.
Homeschooling with a private tutor:
In order to homeschool your children, the tutor must be certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to teach in the public schools of Pennsylvania, teach one or more children who are members of a single family, provide the majority of the instruction, and receive a fee or other consideration for teaching.
The tutor must file a copy of his or her Pennsylvania certification and the required criminal history record with the superintendent of the school district where your students live. HSLDA recommends that the tutor include the names and addresses of the children being tutored and notify the superintendent of any additional children he or she subsequently begins to tutor.
Enrolling your child in a satellite of a religious day school:
You may teach your children at home if your home is an extension or satellite of a religious day school. To qualify as a day school, the school must do the following:
See “Homeschooling under the homeschool statute,” item #3.
The principal of the school must file a notarized affidavit with the Department of Education stating that the required subjects are offered at the school in the English language, that the school is in compliance with the law, and whether the school is a nonprofit organization.
In addition, the day school must furnish the local district with a list of the names and residences of all children between 6 and 18 years of age enrolled in the school. This information must be provided at the time of the children’s admission to the school. Day schools are also required to report the name and date of withdrawal of any student who is still of compulsory attendance age. Additionally, day schools are supposed to report any child who has been absent from school for three days without lawful excuse.
Enrolling your child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school:
You may teach your children at home if they are enrolled in an extension or satellite of a day or boarding school that is accredited by an accrediting association approved by the State Board of Education.
If your state has any specific recordkeeping requirements, they are listed above. Regardless of your state’s recordkeeping requirements, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.
These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. We are dedicated to protecting the legality of your homeschool while equipping you to successfully teach your children.
HSLDA members have 24/7 phone and email access to our staff of attorneys and legal assistants, who can help you understand the homeschool law in your state and will go to bat for you if a school official or other authority challenges your homeschool. Our 80,000 members—families like you!— also receive personalized advice on everything from homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with special needs from our team of education consultants.
Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.