Homeschooling is by far one of the best decisions I’ve made for my family.  It has enabled me to become the patient and hands-on parent that I’ve always wanted to become.   More importantly, I’m no longer unsure whether my children are getting the education they deserve.  The even greater news is, homeschooling in Pittsburgh is not difficult.

The process to homeschool in Pittsburgh (and the state of Pennsylvania) is fairly simple.  All that is required to homeschool in Pennsylvania is

  • File an affidavit that states who is responsible for the schooling prior to the beginning of the school year with your district’s superintendent
  • File a list of educational objectives for each child you plan to homeschool at the beginning of the school year with your district’s superintendent
  • Have your child evaluated at the end of the school year.  The evaluator will give you their assessment which must be filed with your district’s superintendent at the end of the school year

All of these documents are linked below.  

blackhomeschooling_brownmamas

Step 1: Legalizing your Homeschool

  • The first step is to file your PA Affidavit of Intention to Homeschool & a list of educational objectives.  You can download those forms by clicking here.  They can be filed as is, or you can change them.  Your superintendents office will accept them either way.
  • You will need to have your Affidavit of Intention notarized.  Call 412.331.1208 for a free notary service, or if you would like to support a Black-owned business, check out Notary Now LLC owned by Brown Mama Yolanda. She will come to your house and provides stellar service.
  • Your paperwork must be filed with the superintendent of the school district you live in.  If you live in Pittsburgh and are in the Pittsburgh Public School District you can file your paperwork at the Student Achievement Center.  Here is the address: 925 Brushton Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15208
    . You can also email your paperwork to Michele Wesolowski at mwesolowski1@pghschools.org.
  • If you live in the Pittsburgh Public School District your affidavit and objectives must be filed during the August prior to the school year you’d like to begin homeschooling.  You must file one affidavit with each child’s name in the children section, and one set of objectives per child.  If not, contact your local superintendent’s office to get the exact date and place to file your paperwork.

Step 2: Deschooling Your Child

You’ve legalized your homeschool now it’s time to take a breather.  Relax, this is a big step you have taken and you need to pat yourself on the back.  Take a trip with your children, take a drumming class or swim class.  In essence, do something fun.  Realize that your kids are NOT used to thinking about home as a classroom and neither are you.  Allow yourself and your children time to adjust.

The process of removing the performance, competition and need to do things up to a ‘standard’ from your learning journey is called Deschooling.

I’ve created a Brown Mamas’ Guide to Deschooling if you need help defining this process and could use some tips and activities to do to assist in your deschooling process.

While you are “deschooling” take some time to look for a curriculum, or not.  We do not use one curriculum in its entirety.  We do more of a hyrbrid form of homeshooling where we unschool, use online classes and curricula when necessary and often allow learning to be led by our children’s own curiosity. Learn more about unschooling in the video below and in this article.

Every homeschooler must educate their children specific to their needs. For some that may mean completely unschooling, while for others it may mean schooling at home.

Curriculum Resources for Pittsburgh Homeschoolers

Easy Peasy Free Homeschool Curriculum

Kamali Academy African-Centered Curriculum

DuoLingo Language Curriculum

Mosa Mack Science Curriculum

Exploring Africa Geography & Culture Curriculum

Education.com

TLSbooks.com

Whiz Kids Science

Click here for a list of over 30 homeschooling websites

Click here for a list of African-Centered Curriculum

Step 3: Know Your Homeschooling Laws & Stay Legal

In the state of Pennsylvania homeschooled children are required to be tested in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade.   If you’re child is of testing age, here is a list of the approved test:

  • California Achievement Test
  • Comprehensive Testing Program (CTPIV)
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills
  • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) <–NEW!
  • Metropolitan Achievement Test
  • Peabody Achievement Individual Test – Revised Version
  • Stanford Achievement Test (not to be confused with the SAT test for college admission)
  • Terra Nova
  • Woodcock-Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement III
  • Woodcock-Johnson IV
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III)

If you want your children to do their testing online, the Standford 10 is available online for $40 via SetonTesting.com

Portfolios

We are also required to file an evaluation with our district superintendent at the end of each school year for each student. HOWEVER, this portfolio DOES NOT need to be filed with your superintendent’s district office. Your evaluator will give you a form (or you can give them this one linked here) and the form/assessment should be filed with your superintendent’s office.

According to the law the portfolio should consist of:

  • a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used,
  • samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student
  • and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels.”

Again, this portfolio is NOT filed with your superintendent’s office. It is simply given to your evaluator as a tool to assess your child’s learning experience. It’s best to make sure the educational objectives you have for your children is in alignment with your evaluator’s expectations prior to asking them to assess your child.

Evaluators

The law states the following people may evaluate your child’s portfolio:

  • “a licensed clinical or school psychologist
  • a teacher certified by the Commonwealth”… “The certified teacher shall have experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.”
  • a nonpublic school teacher or administrator. Any such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have at least two years of teaching experience in a Pennsylvania public or nonpublic school within the last ten years. Such nonpublic teacher or administrator shall have the required experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.”
  • “At the request of the supervisor, persons with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the district of residence superintendent.”
  • “In no event shall the evaluator be the supervisor or their spouse.”

Step 4: Go Outside

Homeschooling Classes in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium

Carnegie Science Center Homeschool Classes

Citizen’s Science Lab Science Classes

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum of Art

Cyber Schools for Pittsburgh Residents

Commonwealth Connections Academy

PA Cyber School

Agora Cyber School

Other Resources:

PA Homeschool Law

Homeschooling in Pennsylvania

You can also check out our comprehensive list of homeschooling classes in Pittsburgh here. I hope this helps mamas!

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Muffy MendozaAuthor posts

Muffy Mendoza is an author, speaker and founder of Pittsburgh Brown Mamas, a support group for nearly 4,000 African-American moms in the Pittsburgh region. To further fill the void Muffy has created a line of educational products focused on helping Black moms be the best moms, too. Her first book, The Brown Mama Mindset: A Blueprint for Black Moms on Life, Love & Home, was featured at the 2018 Essence Festival and is currently sold in various cities across the U.S. Muffy champions the beauty of Black motherhood everywhere she goes, even on the TEDx stage. Find out more about Muffy on muffymendoza.com.

2 Comments

  • Wow this is so helpful. I’m considering homeschooling all three of my kids. The oldest is 4 and I’m feeling pressure to get organized and educated, myself. We’re not there yet but I love your advice on unschooling. Taking a trip or a fun class makes sense! I also appreciate your warning that kidfatigue is a real thing. I worry about that as I’m already exhausted with three little people. I also worry about them being lonely or not finding best friends. We as moms need community and I know they do, too.

    This is the most comprehensive site I’ve found for homeschooling in Pittsburgh. I’m not a brown mama, more beige than anything but I am really grateful for the work you’ve done and have shared with all mamas and am inspired by what you are doing for your kids. Thank you!

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