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If you are trying to learn more about how to homeschool in Florida, you have come to the right place. There are a few options that give families the flexibility and freedom to educate children at home. I will try to answer as many questions and provide vital Florida homeschooling information. I will also include a checklist to download so you can have a successful start to your homeschool adventure. The most important element is being compliant with Florida homeschool laws. We are a great state for homeschooling because we have a lot of freedom and many options available.
I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but the truth is many people who never considered homeschooling are now contemplating it due to COVID-19. Parents are also stressed because for some, elearning did not go well. It was stressful and hard to juggle, especially with multiple children. I am here to tell you that true homeschooling is nothing like elearning. The beauty lies in flexibility, more time to master the subject area, more room for creativity, and to have more family time. I believe from experience that even households with two working parents can homeschool. I am putting together a homeschool series on this topic for my youtube channel, which will be posted Friday, July 24th. I know plenty of single moms who homeschool. It is a matter of what works best for your family.
Let’s discuss how to homeschool in Florida.
Florida Homeschool Law – Section 1002.01, Florida Statutes (F.S.), defines home education as the sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his or her parent or guardian in order to satisfy Florida’s compulsory education requirements.
Homeschool In Florida Legal Requirements
There are a few ways to homeschool legally in Florida. The first and most direct way is to register as a homeschooler within your county. Here is exactly what is required:
Letter of Intent
You will need to send a written notice of intent to the school district superintendent. The notice must be filed within 30 days of beginning the home education program and must include the following information:
Name of the home education student(s)
You can download a sample letter of intent here. Just fill it out and customize for your student(s). Please note, you do NOT have to use a form provided by the School District or provide any information beyond what is required by law.
Here is a list of districts and their contact information.
Note: If your child was in public school, online school or private school, you MUST withdraw the student FIRST before sending in the Letter of Intent.
Florida Homeschool Requirements
You will also need to create a portfolio. You can create one online or you can use a binder, like I do. This is a way to keep track and provide documentation of your student’s work and progress.
The homeschool portfolio should include samples of writing, worksheets, workbooks, and projects. For my children, we also include a reading log and field trip information. Though the statute does not require the superintendent to inspect all portfolios, the homeschool portfolio must be available for inspection by the superintendent upon 15-day written notice. You must also keep the portfolio for two years. In this post I explain how to make a homeschool portfolio.
Each year you will be required to provide an annual educational evaluation of your student’s educational progress to the superintendent. The evaluation must consist of one of the following:
- A Florida certified teacher may evaluate the child’s progress based on a review of the portfolio and discussion with the student.
- The student may take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher.
- The student may take a state student assessment test at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district.
- The student may be evaluated by a psychologist holding a valid, active license pursuant to section 490.003 (7) or (8), F.S.
- The student may be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.
If you decide to stop homeschooling for any reason, you will have 30 days to file a notice of termination. You will send the notice of termination along with your annual evaluation to the superintendent’s office. Reasons for ending homeschool include:
- moving out of the county
- putting your child in a public or private school
- your child graduates or completes your home-education program.
A notice of termination should include the same student information as the notice of intent.
Any mail sent should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep this as part of your records.
Florida Umbrella Schools
Registering with an umbrella school in Florida is another way to homeschool your child. Technically, an umbrella school is considered a private school. The school supervises the students’ enrollment, attendance (must report 180 days), and in some cases will offer services such as curriculum, transcripts, and diplomas. When you enroll with an umbrella school, you must provide them with your child’s full name, date of birth, address, copy of birth certificate and vaccination records. Some Umbrella schools may impose additional requirements or curriculum.
Some of the more popular umbrella schools are Hillcrest Free Academy and Florida Unschoolers. With these schools you enroll your child and quarterly submit your child’s attendance. FLVS, dual enrollment, Gardiner Scholarship, etc., are all decisions that need approval from the Umbrella School.
We have used an umbrella school and have not run into any issues with FLVS or dual enrollment and hear only good things in the Facebook group we are in.
Homeschooling In Florida with A Private Tutor
In Florida, you can also choose to hire a private tutor to educate your child. The tutor must hold a valid Florida certificate to teach the subjects or grades, typically k-6 or 6-12 certification. The tutor must keep records and make reports as required by the state and district school boards in accordance with Florida Statutes 1003.23. With this option students must be in attendance for 180 days (or the equivalent on an hourly basis).
How do I comply with Florida Homeschool law?
Florida School Attendance Requirements
Let’s start with the basics; Compulsory school attendance refers to the minimum and maximum age required by each state. In Florida, the compulsory attendance ages are 6 through 16 years of age by February 1. That means that a child must be registered either as a homeschooler or with the county by age 6, and until they are 16. As a homeschooler you are not required to report attendance.
According to Statute 1002.41, home educators are not required to keep attendance or meet “the requirements of a school day as defined in statute 1002.01.” A county or state official cannot require you to keep or show attendance records.
Florida Homeschool Teaching Requirements
In Florida, parents do not need teacher qualifications. While some may argue this is not a good thing, I disagree. My degree is in elementary education, it is not a requirement. If you care, you can do it. There are so many resources available for parents, with so many possibilities. It is possible to not only homeschool, but provide an exceptional, fulfilling education for your child.
Homeschool Online In Florida
There are several options for online school in Florida. Although your child will be home for school, they will not be a homeschooler. These are two very different things. You can register with K12 FLVS and some districts are offering elearning with COVID-19. You will have to check with your county and see what options are available and best for your student. With any virtual school, online teachers manage student’s education from afar within a structured curriculum. This often requires many hours online and lots of required work, often referred to as “busy work.”
Florida Homeschool FAQ
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Florida?
According to f.s. 411002, state tests are one of the possible measures acceptable for providing the required annual educational evaluation. However, Florida homeschool students are NOT required to take standardized state tests. If a home education student returns to a public school, the student may be asked to take a standardized test.
How many hours do students have to attend school?
As a traditional homeschool student there are no set hours. Below is a recommended chart for how much time to spend homeschooling your student by grade level. However, this can vary. For example, we school year round and so some days are longer, while other days are shorter. That is the beauty of being a homeschooler! (From the Illinois State Board of Education.)
What curriculum do I use?
There are so many options for curriculum. From Christian based to secular, there is something for everyone. As a former teacher, what I do is download the state standards for each grade level my children are in. I place them in their homeschool portfolio, and I create my lessons to meet each standard. I do use some premade curriculum, especially during the summer months when I take some time to really focus on what we have learned to make sure my kids have mastered their curriculum, especially in math. It is important to me that they have a solid foundation before we move on. You can search around, look up reviews on Youtube–there are a lot of wonderful homeschool channels to choose from. You can make decisions based on what kind of learner your child is and what you think will work best for them.
Florida Homeschool Consulting Services
This pretty much sums up how to homeschool in Florida, and I’ve addressed most of the Florida homeschool laws and requirements. HSLDA has a lot of great information, and I highly recommend checking out their websites, learning about your legal rights, and getting a membership. They are fantastic with supporting homeschooling families and offer personalized guidance and legal protection.
If you would like to book a personalized session with me I can walk you through it and we will come up with a plan of action to help ensure your success! Get Started Today!