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Resources

At Natural Creativity, we are all about young people and families designing their own lives according to their specific needs and motivations.  We question the idea that someone outside of us knows what's meaningful to us or has all the answers...

Yet, it can be isolating and lonely to figure this out all by yourself!  That's why we exist as a community. Below are resources we find ourselves regularly recommending to families looking for some new perspectives.  Just as we encourage parents to offer educational opportunities with an open palm, we do the same to our families.  Take what you want and leave the rest.

Check out our FAQ page for even more!

Self-Directed Education (The Basics)

If you only do two things as a result of seeing this page...

1. Watch this video:

2. Then read this essay:

"A Thousand Rivers" by Carol Black (or, "What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.")

Here's the legal stuff...

Philadelphia/ Pennsylvania Homeschooling Logistics

  • Home Education and Private Tutoring in Pennsylvania (including sample affidavits/declarations)

  • The Dandelion Project's Guide to Homeschooling in PA

  • Homeschooling in the School District of Philadelphia

  • Age Requirements: Effective with the 2020-21 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance requirements from age six (6) to age eighteen (18). Specifically, a child who has attained the age of six (6) on or before September 1 must enroll and attend school or begin a home education program that year. A home education program must be documented and evaluated to account for all schooling during that time.  Kindergarten is not required in Pennsylvania. Parents may choose to submit an affidavit for homeschooling their kindergarten child, but it is not required. If you begin homeschooling after September 1 (ie during the school year), you can declare then. 

Standardized Testing

The law requires that homeschooled students take the statewide tests or other authorized tests in grades 3, 5, and 8. The results must be reported in the portfolio; they are not reported to the school district.

Immunizations and Health/Dental Exams and Screenings

All public, private, nonpublic, and homeschool students of school age must have certain health screenings, comprehensive physicals, and dental examinations at specified time frames as set forth in Article XIV (School Health Services) and in regulations (28 Pa. Code Chapter 23). These forms are submitted at the start of homeschooling. Medical is submitted again in grades 6 + 11, and dental is submitted again in grades 3 + 7. 

Medical Form (upon start of homeschooling and grades 6 and 11)

Dental Form (upon start of homeschooling and grades 3 and 7)

These forms are filed BEFORE beginning to homeschool and each year after by August 1.

 

Homeschool families may schedule appointments for these screenings with the local school district nurse or the district's contracted health care professional when the screenings/exams are being conducted at the schools. Homeschool families may also schedule comprehensive physicals and dental examinations with private health care providers, but these physicals and dental examinations must be performed no more than four months prior to the year in school for which the exam is mandated. Learn more about these requirements here (Search "Health Screenings, Physicals, and Dental Exams").

 

Special Education/Testing Services for Young People with Disabilities

"If a homeschooled student is identified pursuant to IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] as needing special education services, then the student's school district or intermediate unit of residence may provide special education services to the student in accordance with its policies and practices." More information from the School District of Philadelphia, PA Dept of Ed here and here.

 Yes, this is a lot of information, and yes you can do it! We suggest Natural Creativity's Family Support Coordinator or The Dandelion Project for the most up-to-date info.

 

Important Dates:

August 1: Deadline for declaring intention to homeschool​

June 30: Homeschool portfolio & evaluation due to your school district

Back to the fun stuff!

Books

Blogs/Websites/ Thinkers

Podcasts

  • Fare of the Free Child by Akilah S. Richards. "A podcast that focuses on Black people, Native Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC) families who practice unschooling and other forms of Self-directed, decolonized living and learning. Each weekly episode examines a particular way that we've accepted coercive, emotionally and physically damaging habits as a normal part of adult-child relationships..."

  • Off-Trail Learning by Blake Boles. "Interviews with innovative educators, self-directed young people, and others who think differently about learning, teaching, and schooling."

  • Deschool Yourself by Zak Slayback and Jeff Till. "An 8-part audio production on healing the 15000 hour affliction of public school. We explore the effects of school, its place in society, and practical tips for taking control of your life and education, both together and with experts on learning, school, and self-efficacy." 8 episodes, only on iTunes/Stitcher.

Life after Unschooling

Research about the Outcomes of SDE

Philadelphia-Area Allies & Organizations in the Self-Directed Education Movement

These organizations vary in their approach and models, but share a passion for making youth-focused education available to Philadelphia-area families. This work can change quickly, so please check out the sites yourself to see current status.

Looking for more?

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