The law deals both with the age by which children must be enrolled in school and with the age until which a student must remain in school.
Age by which a Child Must Enroll
Parents are not legally obligated to enroll their children in school until they are eight (8) years old.
If a child turns eight before or during the first two weeks of the annual school term (or within the first two weeks of the second semester, if the school district in which the student resides promotes students semi-annually), the affidavit must be filed by the child's birth date. If the child turns eight during the school term, the affidavit should be filed prior to the beginning of the next school year (24 P.S. 13-1304).
Therefore, if a child would not turn eight until, for example, November 5, the affidavit for that child would not be required until the next school year, unless the school district promotes students semi-annually. Conversely, if the child turns eight during the first two weeks of the new school year, the child would need to be enrolled by their birthday.
NOTE: If a child has attended any public or private school in first grade or above, or if the parent has submitted an affidavit for a homeschool program for first grade or above, the child must continue their formal education (whether private, public or homeschool), regardless of the child's age, even if they are not yet eight years old (24 P.S. 24 13-1326). Attendance in kindergarten does not count toward this rule.
In the Philadelphia City School District, the age is six (6). When a child in the Philadelphia City School District turns six (6), a homeschool parent must submit a Letter of Intent to Homeschool to the district, although they still are not required to submit an affidavit until the child is eight (8). See 24 P.S. § 21-2103 (8).
Age until which a Student Must Remain in School
Compulsory attendance is required until a child is 17 years old. Homeschooling must be documented and submitted to the superintendent’s office to account for all schooling until that time, regardless if the student drops out of homeschooling when they turn 17.
If a student turns 17 while homeschooling, they may continue to homeschool until they graduate as long as there is no break in homeschooling. If a student drops out of homeschooling after age 17, they may not return to homeschooling. It is to the advantage of the student to continue to submit an affidavit until they complete their graduation requirements for two important reasons. First, unless a student is under the authority of an affidavit and completes the graduation requirements, they cannot be awarded a state-recognized diploma. Second, if a student has not associated with one of the home education organizations that are authorized to grant a home school diploma, the superintendent of schools cannot sign the PHEAA form unless the student completes the graduation requirements under the authority of an affidavit.