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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. #1 Who homeschools and why?
Q. #2 Is homeschooling legal in Pennsylvania?
Q. #3 Why do Catholic parents homeschool with Catholic schools available?
Q. #4 What are the benefits of home education?
Q. #5 What about socialization?
Q. #6 Can home education work for families where there is no family harmony?
Q. #7 How much time does it take in your day to teach your children at home?
Q. #8 What do children like about being educated at home?
Q. #9 How do I know if I should educate my children at home?
Q. #10 When can I begin homeschooling?
Q. #11 Are parents adequately qualified to educate their children?
Q. #12 How do I know that I will be able to handle the higher grades?
Q. #13 How do I choose a curriculum or curriculum provider?
Q. #14 Can someone else teach my children for me?

Q. #1 Who homeschools and why?
A.      The characteristics of the homeschool parent are as diverse as any other population group. The circumstances are just as diverse. Some parents are bringing their children home from an institutional school, whereas others have always educated their children at home. Parents bring their children home from elementary school, junior high, and high school (some even late in the student's senior year). There is no one kind of homeschool parent and no ideal time to begin homeschooling.        
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Q. #2 Is homeschooling legal in Pennsylvania?
A.      Yes. The current law in Pennsylvania is Act 169 of 1988 (also known as Section 1327.1 of the Public School Code of 1949. Parents or legal guardians who have at least a high school education or its equivalent and have not committed a major crime in the past five years may teach their children at home.         
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Q. #3 Why do Catholic parents homeschool with Catholic schools available?
A.      Besides the fact that statistics prove that children learn best in a one-on-one, customized environment, Catholic schools are not available locally or affordably to all families. Generally, they also do not have the facilities/programs/resources to educate children with special or exceptional needs. There are times when children are distracted by other students or unable to concentrate properly in a school environment. Regardless, the Catholic Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children, and parents should be the first choice educators, not the "last resort."         
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Q. #4 What are the benefits of home education?
A.      Children who are home educated acquire self-esteem and self-confidence that is best accomplished outside of the influence of the peer pressure found in schools. Parents can appropriately challenge a student or give extra attention to other areas making sure that the student doesn't "fall through the cracks". Those children who are easily distracted by other students in the classroom can thrive in the familiar environment of their home. Parents can make their children's education come alive through appropriate field trips, library resources, community resources and, in most cases, Internet and/or computer resources. Parents are able to train and educate their children in their religious faith, values, and beliefs without the outside interference of those who do not share that faith, those values or beliefs. The family's right to privacy of faith also is maintained. Home education allows the flexibility for families whose travel and work schedules are difficult to accommodate with the traditional school year. Students and/or parents with health challenges can make use of the July 1 - June 30 school year to complete their 180 days without the stress of the traditional schedule or exposure to additional health risks and concerns.         
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Q. #5 What about socialization?
A.      Some parents bring their children home to educate them because of the negative aspects of socialization (peer pressure, drugs, violence, etc.). Homeschool parents and their children do not find that this is a negative. In fact, those children who are easily distracted by other children in the classroom especially benefit from keeping their academic and social activities separate. However, those home educated students who have returned to an institutional school, gone on to jobs or college have proven that they tend to be much more mature, self confident, well spoken, and capable of handling any social situation after experiencing the homeschool environment than their institutionally-educated peers. An education in a family atmosphere exposes the student to real life socialization as the Domestic Church is more representative of the real world, multi-aged society than an artificial, age-limited environment of a school.        
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Q. #6 Can home education work for families where there is no family harmony?
A.      This is a very sad situation; however, this is an excellent reason to bring your children home for their education. Working through times tables, algebra, chemistry and all other subjects from a Catholic perspective can work to rebuild the foundation of respect, love and unity within the entire family.
      Many, many families have found that by regularly sprinkling their homes and family members with holy water, praying the family Rosary, frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, and taking the children to Mass at times other than Sunday morning can calm the overactive child, bring discipline to the home/classroom, show children that their parents love them more than they ever realized and open formerly closed minds and hearts to the love of learning & family.
      Yes, home education can work and is usually what repairs and restores those strained family relationships.        
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Q. #7 How much time does it take in your day to teach your children at home?
A.      Homeschool parents find "teachable moments" for their children all day long and on weekends too. However, one-on-one tutoring is a far more efficient method of educating children. Many families do group children together for gym, art or music and any other appropriate courses. Parents who teach their children at home find that there are teachable moments at all times of day and wherever they go, but the children are far more receptive in an environment where learning and striving for their best is considered the “cool” thing to do.
      Children find that many of their favorite activities (ballet and gymnastics classes, music lessons, sports activities, etc) can be extensions of their school day. Families who prefer to have Dad teach some courses in the evening or on weekends have the flexibility to do that too.
      The youngest student’s courses are more labor intensive for the parent as these children may not be able to read directions or do many things without parental involvement. As the child grows, he/she can become a more independent learner. However, depending on the subject and the child, parents do adjust their availability, involvement, and teaching style with the needs of the older student.
      Home education doesn't require unnecessary busy work. It also is time-efficient in that the student can have a personalized method of instruction, testing, etc., rather than accommodating his/her peers.         
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Q. #8 What do children like about being educated at home?
A.      Recess time can be used to ride their bikes, play on their swing sets and use other family belongings that they miss out on when at school. Field trips can bring their science, history and other subjects to life.
      Families who move frequently find that their children experience ease of adjustment if they have continuity with their academics. Making new friends is much easier than re-establishing themselves with a new teacher and school as well. Most importantly, children love the fact that once they put in a school day, many times there is no need for homework.
      Children also can tailor their school day to their biological clock. Students who just cannot concentrate on subjects like math or science first thing in the morning can adjust their schedule to cover these subjects in the afternoon or evening, if necessary.        
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Q. #9 How do I know if I should educate my children at home?
A.      If God is calling you to homeschool, you will know it. It just won’t leave you alone and will nag at you till you do it.        
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Q. #10 When can I begin homeschooling?
A.      You may begin at any time of the school year. However, kindergarten is not a mandatory grade and does not need any homeschool paperwork upon withdrawal. If the child has attended an institutional school for grades 1-12, you may not begin counting your school days until the day after the district receives your
affidavit and objectives. If the student has attended school during part of the school year, you will need to document the number of days required to complete the 180 required days after counting all days of attendance and days of excused absences.         Top

Q. #11 Are parents adequately qualified to educate their children?
A.      As Catholics we believe that we receive graces from every Sacrament. The Sacrament of Matrimony gives parents all of the graces that they need to do all that they are called to do both as a spouse and as a parent. Whether that would be dealing with colic, potty training, learning manners at the table, cursive handwriting, math facts to advanced math, the sciences, sacramental preparation or the deeper matters of the Catholic faith, God has given parents sufficient graces to do it all. Just as parents do not know whether or not they have the graces to handle teething until their baby has reached that stage, they do not realize that they have the graces to handle elementary or secondary education until they are in the midst of it.        
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Q. #12 How do I know that I will be able to handle the older grades?
A.      Every couple should reassess each year what God is calling them to do with regard to their child's education. If God is calling you to continue or begin home education, as a very active Superintendent of your homeschool, God will make sure that everything falls into place in just the right timing.
      When one young mother thought her husband wanted her to go back to work and put their children in daycare, her husband said, “If I would have wanted someone else to raise our children, I would have married her.” In the same way, if God wanted only certified teachers to teach children, He would have given all of His children to them.
      There is a saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The chances are that your children with learn similarly to the manner in which you and/or your spouse learns things. If you have some idea what it takes for you or your spouse to learn something, then you have an advantage over someone else who does not know you or your spouse on an academic level.
      The Holy Bible also says, “Parents [not teachers] train up your children in the way they should go.” Additionally, God made the first homeschool parents before he made the first students. Had He found it necessary or essential, He could have made the teachers, the school district or the village first before He made the first students. This fact is just as relevant today.
      It does not take a village to educate a child, but it does take an entire school system. Except in those cases there the father is the principal educator of the children, the ideal school system would be structured like this:

Superintendent--Almighty God
Principal--Dad
Teacher--Mom
Teacher's aides--the parents' and children's guardian angels
Support staff--the parents' and children's patron saints and all others who intercede for you in prayer

      This "team effort" can result only in the best education that can ever be provided to the children you love and in whom you have a vested interest.         Top

Q. #13 How do I choose a curriculum or a curriculum provider?
A.      We suggest that you contact the curriculum providers whose links are available on this website for literature on their programs. Many parents who are new a home education find it easier to use the full-service of a curriculum provider because the tests and lesson plans are prepared for you already by most of the curriculum providers listed. They also offer telephone consultation and other services as well.

      You can expect a lot of help from the curriculum providers if you let them know as specifically as possible what your concern is. For instance, Seton Home Study School has two people on staff who specialize in special needs students and have over 1000 alternative books available for the children who need to use materials other than their usual curriculum. These curriculum providers are also the best sources to begin with for choosing curriculum.

      Many of the Protestant sources available either do not address things from a Catholic perspective or are blatantly anti-Catholic. Parents and children who begin using Catholic materials after using secular or Protestant texts, workbooks, or lesson plans cannot believe what they were missing and usually get sold onto using more and more Catholic texts as time goes on.         Top

Q. #14 Can someone else teach my children for me?
A.      According to Pennsylvania's home education law, only the parent or legal guardian can be the "supervisor" of the student's home education program. However, there is no restriction upon having a private teacher for music lessons, a coach for sports, other parents at a homeschool co-op teaching, etc. Under the private tutoring law, a parent can hire a certified teacher, but this arrangement is typically very expensive and is very difficult to arrange, especially since most teachers prefer to only teach the subject in which they are certified.         
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God bless you with the wisdom to know and accept His will for your family, and God bless your school year!


Webmaster: Timothy Kramer -- E-mail: webmaster@catholichomeschoolpa.org
© Copyright 2001 Ellen Kramer or Catholic Homeschoolers of Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted.
This page was updated on November 30, 2004.