I live with my husband, my 8 yo dd, my best friend and her 3 kids. This year we all unschooled and had a successful, fun and interesting year. We did A LOT - museums, day trips out of town, days in the woods collecting plants and animals, lots of trips to the library, documentaries etc. We all felt like the kids were learning and having a great time with it.
We live in PA and in PA you have to submit a portfolio to an evaluator and the school district. The portfolio has to include a log of all the days spent schooling, a list of every book that was read, and worksheets showing sustained progress (among other things). I didn't have to submit anything as my daughter was not yet the compulsory school age in September, but my friend had to submit 3 portfolios and I helped her put them together because schooling all the kids this year was a joint effort. It was a lot of work but in the end we felt pretty pleased with the portfolios.
Well, they got sent back and my friend was told they were inadequate. Some of the problems were that there wasn't enough worksheets to show sustained progress, despite the fact that we included the 3-5 pages per subject that we were told to include. (It was difficult to wrangle up 3-5 pages in some subjects, being unschoolers. We had next to nothing for Social Studies despite reading "Story of the World" all year and learning a lot of history through books and docus.) Another problem was that the 13 year old's handwriting (on reports he did of his own free will) was "iffy". (How in the world do we correct his handwriting within the next couple of weeks?!) We mistakenly submitted papers with mistakes on them, thinking this would show progress because papers dated later were correct, and all of those got rejected.
So, now we are in this mad rush to gather workbook pages and have the kids do them, sooo not what we had envisioned having to do. Not to mention they aren't learning anything this way, it's too much at once. All of the 13 yo's really well written and thoughtful reports on topics that interest him will probably be scrapped in exchange for workbook pages - which is sad.
This experience has been difficult enough that we've decided not to unschool next year. My daughter and my friend's youngest will be enrolled in cyber school, the two older ones are going to school. There are more reasons than JUST this for enrolling them in school - they are lonely and want to be with friends also - but this experience has been a big part of why.
BTW, the evaluator we chose was the most "unschooling friendly" one in our area.
No real question, just wanted to send out a warning to unschoolers in PA - generate paperwork!
Edited by Attila the Honey - 5/21/12 at 3:19pm