How to Prepare A List of Objectives

Since a list of objectives must be filed with the notarized affidavit, I typically prepare it before the affidavit since it can be simple and straightforward.

Objectives PA homeschool lawThe law simply requires “an outline of proposed education objectives by subject area.” It is important to note two things. 1) Your list of objectives may not be rejected by the superintendent. Also, it does not need to be “approved” by school personnel; 2) The list of objectives may not be used by the superintendent to determine whether the home education program is out of compliance with the law. These two caveats render the objectives legally useless (really, what’s the point?) but the form can serve as a basic planning tool for parents to set some general goals in the beginning of the year and measure accomplishments at the end. Also, it’s required, so no use complaining, right?.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education acknowledges that every subject does not need to be taught every year. As long as each subject in the list of subjects required is covered once during the elementary level and likewise for the list of required subjects for the secondary level. In reality, most home education programs naturally cover all the subjects. For example, a biography about Rachel Carson could very naturally include the subjects of science, history/PA history, art (if the child sketched or studied some of her art), geography, English (if the child narrated or wrote about her life). Further, if you think about high school, most programs of study don’t include all the subjects every year. It wouldn’t be possible. Just be aware that colleges will be interested in the course of study and most likely the content of those courses. Even though all subjects are not required every year, I would include a general bullet point under every subject since most school administrators are unaware of this fact. You’ll just avoid an unnecessary hassle by listing each subject.

It is completely up to you to decide how detailed or general you want your list of objectives to be. I prefer very general objectives. I attach one form for all children in elementary level (3-6) and one for all children at the secondary level (7-12). My district has accepted this method. The law does not require duplicating objectives or preparing one for each child since one affidavit can list all children in the home education program. This method is appropriate if you keep the list of objectives very general.

The subjects required at the elementary school level include:

    1. English, to include spelling, reading and writing;

    2. arithmetic;

    3. science;

    4. geography;

    5. history of the United States and Pennsylvania;

    6. civics;

    7. safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires;

    8. health and physiology; physical education;

    9. music and art.

The subjects required at the secondary level are as follows:

    1. English, to include language, literature, speech and composition;

    2. science;

    3. geography;

    4. social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania;

    5. mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra and geometry;

    6. art and music;

    7. physical education;

    8. health;

    9. safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

Such courses of study may include, at the discretion of the supervisor of the home education program, economics; biology; chemistry; foreign languages; trigonometry; or other age-appropriate courses as contained in Chapter 5 (Curriculum Requirements) of the State Board of Education.

For a sample of the Educational Objectives that I have used for both elementary and secondary students, click on the “Forms” tab above. While the law only requires at least one objective per subject, I list more for my own use as a guideline. Whatever method you prefer is fine. Feel free to print and attach my form as is or use it as a guide to prepare your own.

Since it’s general, I file the same list of objectives every year.  You’ll notice that I condense subjects like music and art; health, safety and physical education and list history, PA history and civics under the general heading “Social Studies”. As long as you identify each subject as listed in the statute, your objectives will satisfy the legal requirement.

Please don’t stress about this requirement. If you have any questions after reading this article, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the “contact” tab on the top navigation bar.

Written by BethPhillips

Posted in Filing Requirements.


  1. I submitted an obviously overly specific list of objectives, since this is my first year. My son is supposed to be in 1st grade, but we are using 2nd grade material since he is so advances. My super basically told me he wants to see first grade objectives since that is where he is supposed to be. But, my son is thriving and we recently had to upgrade to 3rd grade math. What do I do about my Super?

  2. Loni, (boy, the font in this box is hard to read)
    If your son is in first grade, you probably had no obligation to file an affidavit for him if he isn’t 8 years old yet. If he did not attend K in a school (and maybe if he did-email me to discuss privately). (I’m assuming your not in the Philadelphia school district).

    I would send a letter to the super that you filed the paperwork in error. The compulsory education law only applies to children between the ages of 8 and 17, since your son hasn’t reached the compulsory age yet, you’re under no obligation to notify the school of your intent to educate him at home. Therefore, you will not be in further contact with them until your child reaches the compulsory age.

    You did not waive the application of the statute by mistakenly filing an affidavit and objectives. There is no waiver provision (except if your child attended one day of school in a brick-and-mortar building)

    Let’s pretend that he is 8 years old for purposes of your original question because I think it’s pretty common that school personnel attempt to pigeon hole a child into a grade level. The situation you describe is exactly why I encourage people to prepare very general objectives.

    If you click on the “Law” tab above, you can find the following:

    “Appropriate education” is defined as instruction in the required subjects (English to include…, math, etc) for the required time in which the child demonstrates sustained progress in the overall program. As long as your objectives identify the required subjects and at least one objective, they meet the requirements under the statute. The level of work for each subject is completely up to you.

    If you scroll down a little past the definition under the “Affidavit” section, you’ll see in bold that the objectives “shall not be utilized by the superintendent to determine whether the program is out of compliance with the section”. This means that the Super can’t use it as a checklist at the end of the year. A lot of people make the mistake of listing specific textbooks or curriculum and decide to switch mid-year. In that situation, there’s no need to file amended objectives.

    If you’re not going to withdraw the affidavit altogether or advise them to disregard it, send a reply to the super that your objectives list the required subjects, that the grade level at which your son works is a personal decision. That there is no provision in the homeschool law which gives the superintendent authority to accept or reject your proposed educational objectives.

    I hope this helps. Let me encourage anyone who reads this to keep objectives general and simple! I literally file the same objectives every year for all kids in elementary and a slightly modified version for all children in secondary level.

    Thanks for your great question.

  3. My son is attending K right now. We would like to take him out . The school isn’t helping him any. He has had medical set backs since he was a baby and is having a hard time in school. We talked with his teacher and she thinks it would be great idea. We are hoping to have him out before christmas break starts. how do I start? he is 5 . would I need to do all the paper work since he is under age 8?

    • James,
      You didn’t say whether your son is in a private or public school. If private, you have no obligation to file until 8.

      If you are withdrawing him from a public school it might be different. It really depends on how the school district interprets a recent Supreme Court decision. The case I’m referring to is Commonwealth v. Kerstetter. It involved a parent who couldn’t get her twins to K reliably and was charged with truancy. She argued that they hadn’t reached compulsory attendance age.

      Long story short, the Home School Legal Defense Association argued in an amicus brief that triggering compulsory attendance for parents who enroll then withdraw K age children because they aren’t developmentally ready would affect lots of homeschoolers. The court declined to address the issue but wrote that “it has not been argued to us, nor is it apparent that the school Code is being enforced in Pennsylvania in a fashion that prevents parents from formally withdrawing their children from Kindergarten; nor should this Opinion be read as approving (or disapproving) of such a practice. [legal citation omitted]. Unfortunately, this doesn’t resolve the issue but you can make a great case that since you are withdrawing your child because of unreadiness, you shouldn’t have to file formal paperwork. Some schools don’t want the paperwork, some do. I would be inclined just to have a conversation with the superintendent or whomever handles homeschool paperwork. Cite this case if necessary. Sorry I can’t answer more definitely. Hope it helps.

  4. I am withdrawing my 6 year old from 1st grade in public school. I’m so lost as to where to start! I would greatly appreciate any advice!

    • Madelynne,
      Download the forms (Affidavit/proposed list of objectives) get the affidavit notarized and send to school district. You can watch the video, “How to Prepare an Affidavit” to see how easy it is to fill that out. Next, I would read the ebook I wrote, “Homeschooling in Pennsylvania: How to Comply With the Law in 8 Easy Steps”. In it, I explain the law with commentary and cover what you should and shouldn’t do. I believe in compliance without over compliance. You’ll figure things out legally. As far as HOW to homeschool. People do it all different ways that suit their child’s learning style, family situation, etc. The book will help a lot. Don’t feel like you have to do things the way they’re done in traditional school setting. There’s a link on the sidebar called “Our Family’s Favorite Resources” it takes you to a page where I list the most helpful resources to learn about different methods of homeschooling as well as particular subject resources that we liked.

  5. Hi! Thank you for all this information! I have a 4th grader that i will be homeschooling starting next ear, and two more kids that are attending the IU program, one is turning 5 and he will be eligible for kindergarten, the other is 3 and a half, so not yet. my question is they both do go to a brick-and-mortar building, but its not a kindergarten yet. do i need to file the affidavit for them or we ‘re good till they are turn 8? if i do not, do i still need to file and keep the portfolio on each kid? thank you!

    • Milla, you are only obligated to file an affidavit for your oldest at this point. The compulsory attendance law applies to younger children (younger than 8) who have attended public school (whether brick and mortar or cyber). I’m not familiar with the technicalities as to whether the IU is considered a public school kindergarten. My guess is…no but if your 5 yo attends next year for K, then you wouldn’t be homeschooling anyway. If your 5 yo is not attending next year or any public school program after that, you have no obligation to file an affidavit until he or she turns 8. No need to keep a portfolio for students who you haven’t filed for. Only the evaluator will review the portfolio for your oldest. The law changed in 2014 which eliminated the portfolio review by superintendents. Hope this helps.

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