Welcome to homeschooling in the sunny state! Florida is home to a thriving and robust population of families who have already chosen homeschooling. When making the decision to study at homethey arechildren, join the 100,000 other Floridians* who already live and learn outside of traditional schools.
home schoolingis a broad term that is used differently in different parts of the country. In Florida, the official legal term for 'homeschooling' is 'homeschooling'. So when we talk about homeschooling in Florida, we are really talking about "establishing a homeschooling program" for our children.
But the terminology is not what matters, because these phrases are used interchangeably all the time. The important thing is to know what makes homeschooling in Florida so exceptional, and that's exactly what this article is about. In it, you'll learn some of the ins and outs of homeschooling in Florida, and we'll set the stage for what the homeschooling climate is like here. We have also included a list of important legal requirements that every homeschooling family must follow. Finally, at the end, we've included links to some of the important resources and sites you might need along the way.
We love homeschooling in Florida and we think you will too. By the end of this article, we believe you will understand why homeschooling is a popular and successful option for Florida families.
HOME SCHOOL IS COOL
There are multiple ways to comply with Florida's mandatory attendance laws, which translated means there are multiple ways kids can "go to school" here. Children can attend a public school, as is often the case; or may be enrolled in a private or parochial school, or a charter or non-profit school, at the discretion of their parents. In addition to the more traditional options, Florida students can also enroll in a structured tutoring program designed and supervised by a certified tutor. Last but not least, Florida children can be homeschooled (i.e. homeschooled) directed by parents. Homeschooling is available for all grades K-12 until the student completes homeschooling and then graduates.
You should know that homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and has been legal in Florida since 1984. Our laws were carefully crafted with the help of the early pioneers in our state, especially the people who founded what we now know as theFlorida Homeschool Foundation(www.flhef.org), including our state capital lobbyist, Brenda Dickinson, and many others.
For nearly 40 years, homeschooling has been another education option for Florida families, and it continues to grow here as in other parts of the country. Based on different estimates, national homeschooling trends point to about 5-11% growth each year, and that includes the state of Florida as well. During the 2020 covid epidemic, homeschooling experienced unprecedented growth, some of which is set to continue as new families also discover homeschooling for the first time.
You can be assured that Florida law allows parents and guardians residing here to establish a homeschooling program and direct the education themselves. Parents do not need any special training to homeschool their children, and they do not need to have a college degree. As long as parents submit initial paperwork and stay current with annual requirements, homeschooling in Florida is available to anyone who is ready to commit and assume major responsibility for their child's K-12 education.
AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION
Florida laws are considered to be some of the best homeschooling laws in the country. They allow families complete freedom to choose how to set up their homeschooling programs, while requiring a modest and fair amount of reporting at the end of each homeschooling year. Florida parents choose exactlyasthey want to educate their students (books, e-learning, hands-on experiences or something else);wheninstruct your students (using daily or weekly schedules, or none);whereteach classes (at home or in other locations, such as a museum, library or zoo); Furthermore, parents can also choose exactly which educational materials they prefer (style, series, preferred publisher, etc.).
The homeschooling schedule can be fully customized for each student, based on needs, preferences, graduate goals, family lifestyle, and of course, budget. Parents can choose the courses they teach (such asancient historyocreative writing) and the topics they and their students choose to focus on in each course. Some homeschooling parents like to select materials (printed or online) that include ready-to-use lesson plans and then act as tutors, helpers, or supervisors while students complete assignments. Other families prefer workbooks; online games; video classes; online classes taught by experts; form cooperatives with other families that practice homeschooling; take classes in the community; or a combination of all these methods and more.
While families tend to cover all basic school subjects, many go beyond these skills and also extend them in different directions. Florida law does not require homeschooling students to take a specific set of courses for each grade level, so they can further individualize the program by varying the selection of courses and materials from year to year, another to achieve. specific learning objectives. The success of homeschooled students in Florida is measured in "progress", so students can advance to the next level (or even skip grades) if they need to, or they can also go back to previous material to review it if needed. . And while many Florida homeschoolers graduate with a traditional or semi-traditional transcript (much like those issued in public schools), many homeschoolers graduate with a unique skill set, having completed a range of non-traditional experiences that also demonstrate progress. and completion, and are equally worthy of graduation.
As you can see, receiving an individualized education is the hallmark of Florida homeschooling. Let's now look at the specific legal requirements for becoming a homeschooler in the state of Florida.
THE FOUR LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
There are four legal requirements for homeschooling in the state of Florida that all parents must follow. These are written into Florida law, so they are non-negotiable when it comes to compliance as a homeschooling family. We will briefly review all four of these requirements here, but readers should always follow the written language of the Florida Statutes and keep in mind that this article is not a substitute for professional legal advice.
In a nutshell, this is how homeschooling in Florida works:
Parents send a letter of intent and start studying at home. During the home school year, a portfolio is maintained. On the first anniversary of homeschooling, an assessment should be made. Parents then continue homeschooling for another year and repeat the same process again. A completion letter is presented each time a student graduates.
Now these steps are explained in more detail:
(1) Notice of Intention of Home Education
Within 30 days of starting homeschooling, parents must submit a notice of intent to homeschool (also called a "Letter of Intent"). The letter of intent will include the names, addresses and dates of birth of students to be included in the homeschool program and will be signed by the parents. The letter must be in writing and must be delivered to the office of the superintendent of schools in the district in which the family resides. Any child who turns 6 before February 1 of a given school year and is enrolled in the homeschool program must be listed on the letter of intent. The letter of intent is sent only once and does not need to be resubmitted each year. However, younger children can be added to the homeschool program later if there are younger children who are not yet 6 years old.
See a sample letter of intent here
Please note: The date on the letter of intent is the date the annual assessment is due the following year and each year thereafter. It is recommended that you retain a copy of the original letter of intent and mark the anniversary date on a calendar for the following year as a reminder of the annual review due date. The annual review will be discussed shortly.
(2) Portfolio of Records and Materials
While school districts and private schools are required to maintain student records, homeschooled students are also required to maintain student records. Florida homeschooling records are not to be feared, but they are an important part of the process that should not be ignored.
The Records and Materials Portfolio (“the Portfolio”) is a parent-created grouping of items that represents what each student accomplished during the year. It serves as a record and can also be used to demonstrate progress, as mastery must be clearly evidenced when viewing portfolio content from the beginning to the end of the school year. Portfolios can take many forms, depending on the specific learning style and types of teaching materials used in each specific year. No two portfolios are the same because the homeschooling experience is different for every student. But to be compatible, the wallet must always contain two types of things.
The 2 parts of a homeschooling portfolio are: (a)student work samples; e B)an educational log of activities and reading materials. Work samples (a) are simply a representative grouping of examples of what the student has done throughout the year (eg, writing, worksheets, creative projects, assessments, and the like). The educational record (b) is simply a list of educational activities (e.g., classes and field trips) plus a list of any reading material the student used or accessed that year (such as curriculum products, library books, etc. ). readers, plays and novels). The format and layout of the portfolio is at the sole discretion of the parent preparing it, so the portfolio can be printed or digital, kept very informally (such as in a large box or envelope) or in a more sophisticated manner (such as on a website , in a visual presentation or as a photo collage).
Parents do not give the homeschool portfolio to anyone, but keep the homeschool portfolio in a safe place for a minimum of two years (two years required by law). Parents may choose to show the portfolio to a certified Florida teacher for the purpose of conducting a homeschooling assessment for the child (see #3 below). The portfolio must also be made available to the district superintendent of schools, who may request its inspection electively by making a written request to parents 15 days in advance.
(3) Annual Assessment
Homeschooling parents are required to submit to the office of the superintendent of schools an evaluation of each student in the homeschooling program each year. This assessment is different from the portfolio requirement described above and in addition to portfolio maintenance. While the portfolio (see #2) is a collection of work that stays with parents, the annual review is a progress report that is submitted to the school superintendent once a year. And yes, if there are several children being homeschooled, several assessments will be carried out per year, one per child.
The annual assessment due date varies between families. It expires each year on or before the anniversary date of when homeschooling began. That is, if we go back to the date that appears in the original letter of the item (see item 1), this date is the anniversary date on which the annual assessments must be carried out every year.
Annual assessments must be taken each year until the student completes homeschooling, either by graduating or discontinuing homeschooling for some other reason.
There are five different ways to complete the annual assessment for a Florida home school student, and parents can choose any of the methods listed below:
1. A certified Florida teacher chosen by the parent will assess the student's educational progress after reviewing the portfolio and speaking with the student.
2. Student may take a nationally standardized standardized test administered by a certified teacher
3. The student may take a statewide assessment test administered at a local school at a time when other schools in the district are also being tested.
4. The student may be evaluated by a licensed psychologist or a school psychologist.
5. Other valid action that both parents and the school district mutually agree to
Option 1 is the most popular homeschooling assessment method used by Florida families. It involves an informal meeting or virtual meeting with a certified Florida teacher, and its purpose is to review the student's portfolio to ensure that progress has been made at an appropriate level for the student's skill level. A brief discussion with the student also takes place and, in the context of the portfolio review and discussion with the student/parent, the teacher is asked to certify that educational progress “measurable with ability” has been made. This process usually takes 20 minutes to an hour (once a year) and usually costs around $25-$50 per student. Homeschooling parents who are certified teachers often provide this service to families in need.
Options 2 and 5 are perhaps the second most popular assessment options in Florida.
In option 2, parents hire the services of a certified teacher and take the student's exam. Test results are sometimes useful in determining areas of mastery or gaps to be filled in the following year, and the results can be used to satisfy the annual assessment requirement. Under Option 5, a student with an accredited transcript (such as from a university or virtual school) may submit a course transcript or score report to meet the annual assessment requirement.
Students do not need to be graded the same way every year, and multiple students in the family do not need to be graded the same way either. In this way, parents can select the method that is most suitable for each student and that provides the most valuable information about the homeschool program at all times.
View a sample of an annual assessment conducted by a teacher
(4) Notice of Termination
Within the 30 days following the completion of the education program at home, parents must present a notice of termination (also called "Letter of termination") to a student who has finished (and decides, if they have graduated) their education at home. The letter of intent will include the name, address and date of birth of the student who completed the homeschooling program and will be signed by the parents. The letter must be in writing and must be delivered to the office of the superintendent of schools in the district in which the family resides. Any child completing a homeschooling program requires this letter. Any child who drops out of homeschooling for any other reason (enrolling in a private school or attending a public school) also requires this letter.
All termination letters must be accompanied by an annual assessment (see point 3). The annual assessment must be completed and then submitted along with the termination letter, both within the same 30 day period.
View a termination letter template
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS IN SUMMARY
(1) Letter of Intent (deliver once)
(2) Keep a portfolio (every year) and keep it for two years
(3) Submit an annual assessment per student, per year
(4) Termination letter (within 30 days after completion of homeschooling)
In summary, we present the four legal requirements at a glance.
By following the simple steps above, it's easy to see how homeschooling in the state of Florida works: Parents first submit a letter of intent and begin homeschooling. During the home school year, a portfolio is maintained. On the first anniversary of homeschooling, an assessment should be made. Parents then continue homeschooling for another year and repeat the same process again. A completion letter is sent each time a student graduates, along with a final annual assessment.
SOME OF THE OPPORTUNITIES OPEN TO HOMESCHOOLERS
The unique combination of freedom in education and the ability to enjoy what Florida has to offer - history, nature, attractions, wildlife and much more - is what makes Florida an exceptional place for homeschooling. In addition to learning and activities that families design on their own, Florida homeschoolers also have access to these programs and activities:
(1) Extracurricular Activities: According to "Craig Dickinson's Law" (Florida Statute 1006.15) homeschooled students are eligible"to participate in any educational or school-sanctioned activities occurring during or outside of regular school instructional hours" at your zoned public school.These activities vary by county/district but are accessible to homeschooled students who are interested in and qualified for the activity in question. Examples of the types of programs considered extracurricular include clubs, bands, and high school sports.
(2) part-time enrollment; Access to careers, technical courses and certifications:While availability and options vary by county/district, homeschooled students may access courses on the school's campus during the regular school day. A limit may be imposed on the type and number of these courses, and parents must provide transportation to and from these courses. Families are encouraged to contact their district to find out if this opportunity is available.
(3) Florida Virtual School's "Flex" Program: The state-accredited virtual instruction program is free for homeschooled students who wish to take classes online using the Florida Virtual School. By selecting the "flexible" option, homeschooling students can take courses and schedules that match their goals, interests, and abilities, and final grades/credits can be applied to their homeschool report card or transcribed high school academics as if they were completed at the Florida Virtual School.
(4) Double University Enrollment: A program in which eligible homeschooled students can take in-person, virtual, or hybrid courses on a local college campus, earning college credit toward an associate degree concurrently with completing high school. Tuition waiver and book refund are provided to homeschooled students who successfully pass a placement test and enter courses for which they are eligible. A final transcript is available upon completion, which can be applied to both your high school transcript and subsequent college admission at a later date.
(5) Admission to Florida Colleges and Universities / Admission to all Colleges and Universities: Qualified graduates homeschooled in Florida can enter colleges and universities in the state of Florida and in other parts of the country. Homeschooled graduates enter similarly to other high school graduates and may also (depending on where courses are taken) be eligible for mentorship programs that provide an immediate and guaranteed transfer from an approved dual-enrollment program in which the student earned an associate degree directly from a four-year institution. Homeschoolers are eligible for scholarships; financial help; enrollment in schools, programs, and careers; and enjoy all the benefits of college and college life just like other high school graduates.
(6) The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program: Homeschooled graduates can apply to receive the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, a merit scholarship awarded to homeschooled students who have met minimum college entrance test requirements and completed a minimum number of hours of community/volunteer service , as described in the Bright Futures Handbook. by reward level.
(7) Gardiner Scholarship Program: Parents who homeschool children with unique abilities can receive scholarships to pay for educational programming or hire approved providers who provide the services students need. Applications and scholarship information can be found atstep up for students, in the RESOURCES section, below.
THE PRIVATE SCHOOL OPTION
While homeschooling is an independent endeavor under the law, as you may recall from a previous section, students can also enroll in Florida private schools to meet attendance requirements. And because some private schools allow their students to work from home, these private schools (sometimes referred to as "umbrella" schools) are a viable option for families seeking the supervision of a school combined with the convenience of an education in House.
If a student enrolls in a Florida private school, parents must first complete the homeschool program for that student (see "Termination Letter") and submit an annual assessment. So, instead of fulfilling the legal requirements for homeschooling as described above, parents will submit the necessary documentation, comply with the requirements, and make the type of reports required by the private school.
The choice to home study independently, as described throughout this article, or to enroll in a private school is an individual one. Only families can know which decision is best for them and their students in the long run. As different private schools offer different levels of academic guidance, support and services, we cannot generalize about the experience, only advise parents to interview potential private schools in order to understand exactly what the experience will be like. However, we caution that when moving from independent homeschooling to a private school, or vice versa, a student may gain or lose specific programs, privileges, or services offered in the former setting. Therefore, we suggest that the decision be made carefully, as well as at a strategic time, so as not to harm the student, especially during the high school years, where continuity and continuity can be important for some students.
FLORIDA HOME SCHOOL MYTHS
For the new homeschooler, reading Florida laws or talking to other parents can sometimes leave questions about what is and is not required as a homeschooler. That's why we created a list of complaints that we heard in the community and addressed, so that these myths stop proliferating.
Because the laws only outline 4 specific requirements for homeschoolers, all of the myths you see below are FALSE.
MITO:Homeschooled students must be tested each year.
FALSE WHY: Homeschoolers are not required to be evaluated. optional testshe canbe used for information or to satisfy the annual review requirement, but this is at the parents' discretion.
MITO:Parents must submit lesson plans and attend.
FALSE BECAUSE: Although the portfolio requires a record and samples of work, nothing in the law requires detailed lesson plans or attendance records. In fact, homeschooled students are exempt from the requirements of a traditional public school day.
MITO:Homeschoolers stay home all day.(Alternatively, homeschoolers need homeschooling, homeschoolers need a classroom)
FALSE WHY: Florida law gives homeschoolers the freedom to choose the settings and hours they use for their homeschooling programs. Homeschooling students in Florida are exempt from the requirements of a traditional public school day.
MITO:Private "umbrella" schools are accredited/award a high school diploma.
[PARCIALLY] FALSE BECAUSE: Some private schools in Florida meet this definition, but others do not, so we cannot generalize this statement. Families are asked to interview private schools to learn more about them before enrolling.
MITO:Homeschoolers cannot enter college(Alternatively, homeschooled students cannot get into good universities)
FALSE WHY: Homeschoolers can, and routinely do, go to colleges and universities of all kinds. In fact, homeschooled applicants are award-winning, even shown to outperform their public school peers on certain test measures, and have high college success rates using measures that include graduation on time. There is no statistical evidence to support this claim.
MITO:Homeschoolers lack socialization(Alternatively, homeschoolers cannot function properly in society)
FALSE BECAUSE: There is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, large studies have found that homeschooled graduates are happy and prosperous, adapt easily to new environments, and also have high levels of civic engagement. For more information on this topic, links to research organizations can be found in the RESOURCES list below.
* 100,000 is a good estimate, although the number of homeschoolers changes quickly; Furthermore, estimates like these do not include homeschooled students in private schools.