In response to a recent question and one that I actually get quite often, I've decided to post today about the subjects required to be taught according to the Pennsylvania Homeschool Law.
Each year, the home education program must provide at least 180 days of instruction(this is 900 hours at the elementary hours if the parent chooses to keep track of hours rather than days or 990 hours at the secondary level). At the elementary level, the student must have English (reading/literature, spelling and writing), math, science, geography, history of the United States and Pennsylvania, civics, safety education (including fire prevention), health, physical education, music and art. At the secondary level, the student must have English (grammar, composition, literature and speech), science, geography, social studies(American history, Pennsylvania history, world history, civics), mathematics (including algebra and geometry), art, music, physical education, health and safety education(again to include fire safety).
That's a long list of subjects. But know that not all of these subjects need to be taught every year. Each subject only needs to be covered at some point during the elementary or secondary level as specified. The majority of homeschoolers cover English, history (American, world, ancient, etc., usually one per year), science and math as well as art and/or music, and some form of physical education and fire education during the course of a year. Health is usually thrown in with science at some point.
However, it doesn't have to be done this way. The law really allows for flexibility. For example, if the idea of teaching both science and history in one year seems daunting, it's okay to teach one at a time every other year so as to cover more material and have the time to do more intensive projects. Geography can be taught as one individual subject or can be included in with history each year. Pennsylvania history, contrary to popular misconception, does not have to be covered every year (nor do the other subjects other than fire safety). It can be added in small amounts yearly or as a single subject during half or all of a single year.
Art and music also do not need to be taught each year. A lot of homeschoolers do teach them, in some manner, each year. Art can be included easily by way of drawing illustrations or making art projects for the other subjects. Some homeschoolers take art lessons and some study famous artists from the history time periods they are covering that year. Music is often covered in the way of instrument lessons or voice lessons. Some cover this by studying composers of the history period they are currently studying. Again, they do not have to be covered each year so some homeschoolers may pick just one year to do a more intensive study of one of these subjects.
Physical education also does not need to be covered each year...but I urge you to do so for the health and well-being of your child. It does not have to be any type of specific sport, though many opt to participate in homeschool co-op sports or participate in a sport offered by the local district as it is in the law that homeschool students are allowed to take part in these extracurricular activities/sports. A daily walk or bike ride could also cover this requirement and gets your child out in the outdoors and good exposure to the sun offering its' natural vitamin D supply! A list of such activities in the portfolio or a few photographs of your child participating in one or all of these is enough to demonstrate that this requirement is being filled.
Fire education does need to be represented in your portfolio each and every year. It can be covered in a field trip to the fire station with your local homeschool co-op or you may draw out a fire escape plan with your child and discuss a meeting place outside your home in the even of a fire.[ ***PLEASE have a meeting place established!! If you don't have one yet, do it NOW. You can never predict when there will be a fire.] There are lots of online resources as well.
In regards to high school classes, some Pennsylvania homeschoolers seem to think that speeches must be done each year due to regulations set by the diploma agencies. Please note that getting a diploma through an agency is NOT required and not at all necessary. Parent-issued diplomas are equally legal and this is what the majority of homeschoolers across America use. So while speech is listed as a requirement for the high school level, it is not a yearly requirement. Research papers are not a yearly requirement by the state either.
This is a summary of this part of the law. I'm sure I have not answered every question you may have regarding the teaching of these subjects. Feel free to comment below with any additional questions you have and I'll do my best to provide an answer. I also always recommend to other homeschoolers that they become a member of HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). HSLDA provides not only legal counsel but a wealth of information regarding the law, curriculum and so much more on their website. They have answered a considerable number of questions for me over the years and I can always rely on the website for an abundance of resources.
I'm sure my readers would also love to read in comments below what other creative ways you've used to apply these subjects!
Have a blessed day!