New to Homeschooling
Getting Started & FAQs
So you want to home school in Florida? Congratulations on your decision! It is an exciting and rewarding journey.
Disclaimer: It is your responsibility as the homeschooling parent to research and know the laws.
Guide to homeschooling in Florida by the FPEA
(Florida Parent Educator’s Association)
As a homeschooling parent in Florida, whose children are registered with their local school board offices as home educated students, you have a few options about how you want to prove that your child has made progress each year:
1. Have a FL certified teacher do a portfolio evaluation (required by law)
2. Have your child take a nationally normed standardized test(not required by law)
3. Have your child take a state assessment test (such as FCAT) (not required by law)
4. Have a psychological evaluation done by a FL certified psychologist (not required by law)
Send a “Letter of Intent to Homeschool” to your county school board office. These form letters are often listed on the county school board websites. If you cannot find one for your county, simply write them a letter with the child’s name, DOB, your address, phone number and the date you intend to begin homeschooling.
Keep records of your child’s progress. Progress must be evaluated at the end of each school year and signed by a teacher certified in the state of Florida. Many parents like to keep a portfolio of their child’s work. This is highly recommended. You need not keep every single piece of work that your child did, but you should keep some samples of work from the beginning of the school year, from the middle of the year and then one or two samples from the end of the year in each subject area.
Keep three file folders labeled August, January and May. For each of these folders place one or two samples of your child’s work.
Keep a record of a few books your child is reading each of these months and place them in the folder. Or, better yet, if you frequent the public library, simply hang on to your receipts.
Place one writing sample in each folder according to when it was completed. Same with a math paper or project.
Any science, history, social studies projects can either be saved or pictures taken of them and placed in the folders.
Schedule your child’s portfolio review.
Frequently Asked Questions
What paperwork is required in order to register as a home educated student in Florida?
If you are NOT signed up under an umbrella school such as Life Learning Academy, you will need to send a letter of intent to homeschool to the county in which you reside. You must send this in within 30 days of beginning your homeschooling program if your children have previously been enrolled in school.
If you are just starting out, you must send in your intent letter for your child who turns 6 sometime between the beginning of the school year and February 1st.
Do I need to keep attendance records?
No, you do not.
Do I have to use a certain state-approved curriculum?
No, you may use whatever you wish. Homeschoolers enjoy a wide range of choices and you can mix and match and take an eclectic approach if that is more your style.
Does my child have to take the FCAT?
Homeschoolers are not required to take any type of standardized state or nationally-normed test, however, they may if you desire. Call your school district if you are interested in your children taking the state standardized test. See our related links page for more information on testing.
How do I know if my child is making adequate progress?
Look at your options for the end of the year evaluations and decide which one is right for you and your child. It is my strong opinion that a portfolio review provides much broader, deeper insight into your child’s progress than a nationally normed test taken on one day in their homeschool year. Competent evaluators who have had experience educating children can tell a lot about the child’s academic, emotional, and social development simply by talking with them and looking at their work over a period of time.
You say you need to see a “log of academic activities” when you do my portfolio evaluation. What does this mean?
This means your homeschool plans, which can take many forms. Some people use a traditional plan book. Others simply make a list of broad concepts covered during the year. Still others list extracurricular activities that their children took part in and describe how each of these taught academic concepts. It is really up to you.
I’ve seen unschoolers keep a portfolio of pictures of projects and places they’ve been which relate to the academic concepts they’ve studied that year.
I’ve seen other families keep very detailed logs of everything their children did each day.
Both (and everything in between) are acceptable. The thing to know is that you must keep these with your children’s work samples to make the portfolio complete.
What work do I need to save?
Keep good records. You are required to keep your student’s portfolio for at least two years. You do not have to keep lesson plans, however, if you use them it would be prudent to keep your plans along with the child’s work for the year.
I’ve heard talk of umbrella schools. What are they?
Umbrella schools, sometimes known as “600 Schools” are private schools which vary in cost and substance. If you are interested in this option, we would love you to register with Life Learning Academy, our umbrella school option.
There are many reasons why families choose the umbrella school option. Personally, I choose the portfolio evaluation and here’s why.
What are homeschool co-ops?
In my area of Central Florida there are several homeschool co-ops that are going strong. They vary in size and scope as well. Homeschool co-ops provide support, friendship and inspiration. Many co-ops plan regular outings which are posted online and you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to attend.
Some of our local co-ops offer structured classes for a fee. Others are more free-form and meet only for socializing and support a few times a month.
The best way to find a local homeschool co-op is to ask around at local parks, libraries, or do a simple google search. A lot of our local co-ops communicate via yahoo groups, so you might want to search there too.
What if I stop homeschooling?
Send a letter of termination to your superintendent’s office within 30 days of the time you stop your homeschooling program.