Homeschooling In Florida
There are so many reasons to homeschool in the Sunshine State! We have tons of amazing resources, support groups, co-ops and umbrella schools all over the state. Florida is definitely a homeschool-friendly state.
There are many different options to choose from when you homeschooling in Florida. Sometimes the options in Florida can be confusing, so I’m here to clear them up for you.
Sign Up Under an Umbrella School
One option to homeschooling in Florida is to sign up under an umbrella school. If you do this, your children are considered private-schooled kids and are not counted among the homeschooling numbers for the state. You will need to submit your child’s proof of immunizations, or exemption form, and a current physical before you sign up, just as you would with any public or private school
Not All Umbrella Schools Are Created Equal
Not all umbrella schools are created equal, and this can get tricky.Some umbrella schools are schools where your child can go, can have different teachers, and the teachers and administrators can help with report cards, transcripts, etc. These services vary widely, so do your research!
Some umbrella schools do not have a physical building, some umbrella schools are in “name only” which means that you can sign up under an umbrella school and continue to plan your homeschool yourself without the input of any administrators or teachers, you’ll just have to send in the documentation listed above. Oh, and you’ll need to keep a record of attendance and submit that to your umbrella school every quarter, semester, or whenever your school requires.
Sign Up As a Home Educated Student
This option is sometimes called the “county school board option” because if you choose this one, you’ll send in a letter of intent to homeschool to your county school board office which lets them know that you will be homeschooling your child, and what date you intend to begin your homeschool. This letter then gets filed away, along with your date (also called your “anniversary date”.). You will not need to send in records of immunizations or physicals and you will not need to keep attendance.
Proof of Progress
Each year, on or before your anniversary date, you will need to send proof of progress to your county school board office. This proof can be provided in a variety of ways.
This is the most common option among homeschoolers. As a homeschool consultant and evaluator, I always recommend this option. For one thing, portfolios provide you with the most accurate measure of your child’s progress throughout the year, and once you pull them together at the end of each year, they are such treasures!
Some of my clients create blogs, some take pics of their child’s work and create stunning photo albums, others create private Facebook pages. Still others put work into binders and folders – it really doesn’t matter how you pull it together, as long as you (and your evaluator) can see the progress made – that’s the point. Once your evaluator looks at your portfolio, they will sign a letter stating that they have reviewed it, and you send this in to your county school board office.
Evaluators are private people, like myself, who do not work for the state or the school board. They are simply people who have a teaching certification in Florida in one of the subject areas. For what we require and to read my philosophy, go to my website and search “portfolio.”
Standardized or Nationally Normed Tests
Another option for showing proof of progress each year is for your child to take a state standardized test or nationally normed test. Children who are homeschooled in Florida, have the option to take the yearly standardized test at the public school for which they are zoned. You simply call the school and register your child. You can also go to a testing center and pay to have your child take a nationally-normed test such as the California Achievement Test.
Have a Psychologist Complete a Psychological Evaluation
This is one option in Florida, however, after over a decade of homeschool consulting with families all over the state, I have never heard of anyone using this option. I even have a friend who is a psychologist, and she paid me to do her kids’ portfolio evaluations because she said the psych eval take so much time to complete!
There is one final option to show proof of progress and that is to talk with your superintendant and come up with some other agreed-upon method. This is in place for extenuating circumstances. I know one family who used this option because they were out of the country for most of the year, and studied in a different language. This is the only time I have ever known of a family who chose this option. Still, it’s nice to have it in place.
You are free to choose your own curriculum, no matter how you sign up as a home educated student, unless your umbrella school dictates that you use theirs. Again, do your research on umbrella schools. Not all are created equal.
Co-ops are wonderful things and vary in what they offer. Some are just groups who go to park days together. Others are co-ops simply for field trip gatherings. Other co-ops are academic in nature where the parents teach classes and they meet for classes. There are abundant and many.
The most common ways homeschoolers begin is by registering with their county school board office, and by using an umbrella school. The most common options for showing proof of progress are having a portfolio evaluation done by a certified teacher, or having the child take a state or national test.
Interested in learning about homeschooling in another state? Learn more at the Homeschooling In All 50 States series.
Terri Hedrick is a Catholic homeschooling mom who lives in Sunny FL with her husband, two teenage daughters, dogs, horses, and chickens. She is also a homeschool consultant, evaluator and curriculum creator. Her master’s degree is in Education and she continues to teach hospital/homebound students and special-needs students online. Find her at HomeschoolinFlorida.com