Navigating the Red Tape

Unschooling in a highly regulated state can be a tricky thing.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

     Unschooling in highly regulated states can be a tricky thing. As I mentioned in previous posts, I researched natural learning for about a year before I was comfortable enough to make the change. Admittedly, I’m still nervous about this, but I’m confident that it will be possible.
     I live in a state which requires you to keep a log of your ”school” for 180 days and a portfolio with work samples. A homeschool evaluator must then make sure adequate yearly progress was made and type up a letter stating so. Our state also requires standardized testing in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade, the results of which must be included in the portfolio.




Then, the portfolio, log, standardized test scores, and letter of evaluation must all be submitted to the school district by June 30.
     These strict legalities can seem daunting enough with a traditional homeschool approach, let alone with an interest-led approach in which there is just as much learning, but often less of a paper trail because there is more hands-on learning and much less seatwork.
     I’ve been working through how I will handle this and am confident that I can do this- it will just take more creativity and thought than it used to.
     When I was still just researching unschooling, I had a really hard time finding any information about how to comply with state homeschool laws. I don’t know how many different search terms I used for this, but it was a lot and still…nothing.
     So, as I navigate my way through the red tape, I’ve decided to write a three part series on my plans for successfully unschooling while still complying with state laws. I can’t tell you how much I wish I would have found at least some information on this subject, but I didn’t. So, hopefully, this series will help anyone with the same questions I had (and still have).
     The first part will be about how to categorize your children’s activities into the proper subjects. Some, such as math are easy. Others, such as Minecraft, are less clear.
     The second part will include how to keep a daily log, get creative with the portfolio, and how I intend to handle standardized tests, which I’m still a little anxious about. I’ll get more into that in that post.
     The third, and last, part will demonstrate how I plan to comply with my daughter’s diploma program. This accredited diploma is approved by PHEAA and is well-received by colleges, so it is a very vigorous, somewhat demanding program, so we must be very intentional in her approach to learning.
     Join me in this series as I share (and sometimes still work out) our plans on how to get through all this red tape.

If you live in a state like mine and are unschooling, I would love to hear how you do it! If you don’t but still have suggestions, I would love to hear from you, too!


Linking up with

A Mama’s Story




Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

4 thoughts on “Navigating the Red Tape”

  1. So I’m a teen, not a mom, but I can give you my perspective. I’m fortunate enough to like writing essays or just doing basic reading responses. We haven’t had to submit anything like that (at least yet) but I am keeping a thorough paper trail just in case. Reading responses can be very useful for building a stack of paper so to speak, and I write a lot of them since I do a lot of reading.

    I would count Minecraft as educational because it’s economics – you learn how to convert materials into other materials, and also it teaches you about agriculture and such at least a little bit. I’ve never played, just had a friend play, but I’m a Sims person and if you leave the cheats off it can actually be really good for teaching you how to manage a budget and to budget time effectively. Maybe at the end of each session just have a small write-up like “today I herded sheep and learned about animal behavior” or whatever it is. It wouldn’t have to be long just have it get the point across.

    I’m not a state board person so I can’t tell you how well that would work, but I think write-ups could probably help.


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