We are an eclectic, parent-run group of secular homeschoolers who organize and teach two semesters of enrichment classes.
WHO: We are a diverse community that offers support and friendship, and draws on the strengths of participating parents and families. We welcome families with all learning styles, including cyber, traditional homeschoolers, unschoolers, or eclectic, and include student learners ages 5-18, and younger siblings starting at age 4.
PALS has been operating in various locations around the city for several decades, and currently we have around 50 families. All parents help in running the program by teaching, assisting, staffing the front door, cleaning-up, etc. Jobs are chosen or assigned at the beginning of each term and details regarding sign-up will be announced each term via email.
WHAT: PALS hosts 10 class days each semester, once a week on Wednesdays. The semester typically also includes a field trip, a social party and Share Fair (end of the semester exhibit). Classes are 50 minutes long, split by age as appropriate for the topic. There are four class periods on PALS Wednesdays, and a BYO lunch break.
Each semester the class offerings will change, as ideas are discussed by the community, and parents choose what they’d like to teach. To give you an idea, some previous classes: Stop Motion Video, Pokemon Club, Logic and Brain Teasers, Poetry Tea Time, Book Club, Anatomy and Dissection, and Improv. For your perusal, the list of current classes can generally be found under the Class Registration link, in the top menu. Any parent who has attended at least one term may propose to teach a class!
WHERE: Our classes take place at Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church, from whom we rent space during the day, in the Regent Square/Wilkinsburg neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The address is 905 Mifflin Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15221, and street parking is widely available. We have the use of multiple classrooms, over three floors, and gymnasium/lunchroom.
WHEN: Classes generally run from September to December and again from February to late April or early May. Specific dates for each semester can be found on the menu under Calendar. The Wednesday class day starts at 10 am and the last period ends at 2:30 pm. Families are welcome to attend 1, 2, 3 or all 4 periods, depending on their registration.
WHY: Each family will homeschool their kids differently, and PALS is here to supplement that journey by providing community, new opportunities to learn from each other, socialization for the kids AND parents, and a whole bunch of fun. We do not provide a drop-off program, instead for reasons both legal and philosophical, our role is to facilitate our parents in providing classes and support for each other. PALS serves as an enrichment opportunity while parents remain responsible for their own compliance with PA homeschool law and documentation.
All families attending PALS Enrichment must pay the Community Share Fee each semester, which allows us to divide operating costs (including rent and insurance) on a per family basis, regardless of number of children in the family. If a family is attending 3 or more classes the share fee is $135; one class attendance is $45 and two is $90. Class costs for each class are limited to materials fees and supplies for that class, and are posted in the class schedule at registration. Scholarships are available at the board’s discretion. Please email the treasurer to discuss!
What’s this about clearances?
Since PALS Enrichment is an all-volunteer organization, please remember that under PA law, all adults who will be attending on Wednesdays need to have obtained state-required clearances (as described in detail on the CLEARANCES page) before they will be permitted to register and attend classes. Clearances are due to the secretary several weeks before classes begin, and may take some time to come back once submitted (particularly if the FBI fingerprinting is needed) so don’t delay in checking that out!
If you are interested in joining PALS Enrichment, you can see the Terms and Conditions here, as well as the rest of our policies. To get started on your PALS journey, please contact our new family liaison.
If you would like to receive emails with the dates for the upcoming term, as well as reminders about registration approaching, sign up for this list: Mailing List We will never share your information and do not send frequent messages!
PALS Enrichment is an all-volunteer organization, and as such, each and every adult who attends the PALS class day needs to submit two state clearances, and potentially one federal clearance as indicated below. Families may not register for classes until the secretary has a copy of your current clearances on file.
Here are the THREE required documents and where to find them:
PA Child Abuse Clearance: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
PA State Police Criminal Record Check: https://epatch.pa.gov/home
In addition to the above, please choose the below that apply to you:
If you have NOT lived in Pennsylvania for at least the last 10 consecutive years, you are also required to provide us with an FBI Criminal Background Check. If you have already obtained a FBI Criminal Background check since the time that you moved to Pennsylvania, you may provide us with a copy of that. If you have never obtained an FBI Criminal Background check, please use the link below for IdentGo Fingerprinting Applicant Registration. Choose Digital Fingerprinting and Enter the code 1KG6ZJ for DHS Volunteer. https://www.identogo.com/locations/pennsylvania
If you have lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past 10 years, you will submit an affidavit attesting to that fact by the first day of classes. The affidavit can be found here, or you can submit one you've used for another organization like Scouts or your school district. Signing this affidavit affirms that you have lived in PA for at least 10 years and have not been convicted of a felony or any crime that would preclude volunteering with children in the last 5 years.
Once you have received your clearances, email a pdf copy of them to email@example.com. Then you will able to create an account in our website, which will enable you to register for the next semester's classes.
Please know that your privacy is our utmost concern, and your private documents and information will be kept in strict confidentiality. Any volunteer that has clearances on file with PALS does not need to submit another copy unless your clearances have expired. PA state clearances are good for 5 years. For those who submitted an FBI Clearance Check, you are not required to renew that document if you provide us with a written affirmation that you have lived continuously in Pennsylvania since you obtained the previous FBI Clearance Check, and have not been convicted of a felony or any crime that would preclude volunteering with children since the date of your last FBI Clearance Check.
If you are not sure if PALS has a copy of your clearances, please contact our secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.