How to Homeschool in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

how to homeschool in florida: our comprehensive guide2020 is the year of uncertainty, isn’t it? I think there is more uncertainty among parents of children who are in traditional public schools, private schools, and homeschools. I’ve seen a lot of misinformation going around on social media, it’s no wonder you’re confused!

This comprehensive guide to how to homeschool will apply to Florida, however, many states follow similar guidelines. Check your individual state requirements before you make your decision.

Schooling at Home, But Not Homeschooling

The following three options allow your child to learn at home, and be public school students at the same time.

County School District Virtual School

Before the Year 2020 threw a monkey wrench into all of our plans, students still had the option to study their school’s curriculum, but to do so from home and online. This option requires your student to follow all the rules and regulations that they would normally follow if going to the brick and mortar classroom such as schedules, testing, etc. Obviously, more students (and teachers) are being forced into this option because of limited space in the classrooms right now.

Hospital Homebound Study

Many counties have a hospital homebound program within their public school system. This can be used if your child has a medical diagnosis which prohibits him/her to go to the brick and mortar school. This can also be a good option temporarily if your child is undergoing a surgery which will require a long recovery, or if your child has had an unexpected medical event. Contact your local school board office to learn more.

Florida Virtual School

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is considered its own school district. FLVS follows the typical calendar and testing requirements that other public school districts do. Your student will receive a diploma from FLVS. You can apply to be a FLVS full-time student if you are a resident of Florida. The deadline for the 2020-2021 year is July 31.

Homeschooling Options – Umbrella Schools and Home-Educated Students

The following options are those that typical homeschoolers sign up for. They each have their pros and their cons.

Register With an Umbrella School

When you register your child with an umbrella school in Florida, your child is counted in the private school numbers because umbrella schools are considered private schools, even though many of these are just a “cover” and do not even have a brick and mortar building. Some of these umbrellas do offer in-person classes, however, so check your options carefully. Our umbrella Life Learning Academy, allows you to homeschool on your own schedule and choose your own curriculum. We also offer report cards and help creating high school transcripts.

Register With Your County School Board

When you register your child with your county school board office, your child will be considered a home-educated student. You can begin your homeschool any time within 30 days of registering and you are free to use whatever curriculum you choose. At the end of the year (on the anniversary of when you established your homeschool by sending in your Intent to Homeschool Letter), you will provide proof of progress to your school board office. You have several options for this.including standardized testing, portfolio reviews and more. You can read more about portfolio reviews here. 

Get Straight Answers Here

Our options in Florida can be confusing, especially now that more and more people are choosing to have their children study at home. Finding answers on social media can be like herding chickens, and many people (including those that work in public schools) think they know the laws, when in fact, they don’t.

There are several pros and cons to each homeschooling option above. For example, which option allows you to get college classes for free? One does! Which option allows your kids to participate easily in public school sports? Find out more about all of this and more when you go through our Beginner’s Guide How to Homeschool in Florida: Making Sense of Our Laws and Options course. It’s only $17 and we add and update it all the time as the laws change. We also provide you with all the necessary forms and paperwork you need, depending on the option you choose.

Beginner's Guide: How to Homeschool in Florida

 

 

What You Need to Know Before Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation

homeschool in florida

I will not ask your child to jump through hoops for me.

This is what I say to new clients who ask about my homeschool portfolio evaluation services.

A few years ago, in my local area, it was common to hear from homeschooling families that their portfolio evaluator “tested” their kids during a portfolio evaluation. My initial reaction: WHY?!

During a portfolio evaluation with me, I will not ask your child to read aloud to me, do math computations for me, or recite the dates of the major battles in the Civil War. There are, however, certain things that all homeschool evaluators must look for according to their state laws, and a portfolio evaluation does not include any of those things listed above for the states of Florida and Virginia, where the bulk of my clients reside.

Always check your state’s requirements.

We are so fortunate as homeschoolers across the country to have several options to choose from when it comes to providing evidence that our students have made progress each year. The benefits of using the portfolio evaluation option are many. Just take a look at this article.

The portfolio gives you and me a much more comprehensive picture of your child’s progress than any standardized or nationally normed test, that I do homeschool portfolio reviews exclusively.  Testing does have its place. I have had my girls test in addition to reviewing their portfolio and I often recommend that my clients do both as well. ​

Why Choose a Homeschool Portfolio Review

Portfolio assessments provide an authentic way of demonstrating progress, skills and accomplishments. If I ask your child to read aloud to me, in order to assess his/her fluency, what would I be basing that day’s progress on? I would not know how your child’s fluency was at the beginning of your homeschool year in order to compare.

Similarly, if I ask your student to take a math test for me, or any other one-time summative assessment, I would need a standard or benchmark with which to compare.

Formative and Summative Assessments

A portfolio should include any type of formative or summative assessments that you, (the teacher) have done throughout the year.  The difference between formative and summative assessments is that formative assessments are given by you (the teacher) and help you monitor progress and provide feedback as you go along. For example, you are reading a great work of literature with your student, and you pause at the end of every chapter in order to assess comprehension. You provide feedback and identify any areas of strength or weakness which will help your student improve their learning.

Summative assessments are assessments that come at the end of a unit or course, and will examine your student’s learning by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.  For example, you may make up your own grading rubric after doing a unit study on Shakespeare. You then ask your student to compare Romeo and Juliet to Julius Caesar by designing a multimedia project.  Your grading rubric shows your student details of what you expect out of their paper or project which you will later use to “grade” it.

What to Expect During Your Homeschool Portfolio Review

During a portfolio review, I like to see YOUR formative and summative assessments included in the child’s portfolio.  I am happy to listen to your child read so that I can assess fluency if you would like me to, however, I never include this as part of my portfolio evaluation process, nor does the law in my state ask me to.

I am concerned that if homeschool evaluators who conduct annual portfolio reviews continue to ask their students to do these types of activities as a general rule, that they will be setting a precedent for this, and eventually our homeschool-friendly state will be adding these requirements to the law so that all homeschool evaluators will then put your child to the test.

As a homeschooling parent myself, I rather enjoy my freedom to be able to decide whether or not I want another person to administer (any type of) test to my children.  I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to be subjected to it during a portfolio review.

I offer convenient, stress-free, distance portfolio evaluations to homeschoolers in Florida, Virginia as a way for families to prove progress. I also offer portfolio evaluations to homeschoolers worldwide as an assessment tool for parent’s peace of mind.

Learn more about the benefits of distance evaluations here.

I invite you to become a part of my Homeschool Helpline group. In this small group setting you have access to my experience and expertise in a multitude of ways, which will bring you all the confidence and the peace you need for a successful homeschool.

You can read more about my coaching group here, and my other services including online portfolio evaluations here. Read about my upcoming speaking engagements here.

Why You Need New Year’s Resolutions for Your Homeschool

why you need new year's resolutions for your homeschool

Why do you need New Year’s resolutions for your homeschool? I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, several years ago I resolved not to participate in the seemingly pointless, tradition of sharing with friends all the ways I was going to make my life better in the coming year.

What a set up for failure, right?

I mean, all these ads and sales for healthy foods, supplements, weight loss products, exercise equipment is enough to prove that resolutions don’t last; otherwise all these things would be in your face all year long.

But today I’m not talking about exercise and diet resolutions; I’m talking about resolutions for your homeschool and why you need them.

Are there changes you’d like to make? Things you’d like to do differently? Do your kids have ideas about what they’d like to add to their schooling? Now is the time to regroup, recharge and resolve! Making New Year’s resolutions for your homeschool is important and here’s why: (more…)

Five Easy Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Family

Homeschool in Florida Attitude of Gratitude

We’ve all heard how adopting an “attitude of gratitude” can improve your life, but how exactly do you go about doing that? Sometimes it’s easy to let life get us down and to get caught up in all the daily hustle that we forget to stop and give thanks for the little (and big) things.
Here are some simple ways that we incorporate gratitude in our homeschool.

1. Start the Day With an Offering

This can be an offertory prayer, or a simple statement of intention for the day. You can also offer a prayer for a goal that you would like to accomplish for the day. Don’t keep these to yourself; it’s easy to do as a family before you begin your homeschool day. We like to say our offertory prayer at breakfast. It really does pave the way for an awesome day.

2. When Something Goes Wrong Reframe It

I’m not saying to pretend that bad things don’t happen. They do happen and they will happen. That’s life. In my experience it’s the small things that have the biggest ability to make me forget to be grateful, not the big things in life. A forgotten appointment; a missed deadline; plans needing to be changed last-minute; a week that’s too busy; all these things throw me into a tailspin of ingratitude.

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Five Most Important Things Every Homeschooler Should Know

five most important things every homeschooler should know

You Probably Won’t Stick to “The Plan”

 

We homeschoolers have so many inspired ideas when we first begin! Who doesn’t love a new adventure, with a shiny new schedule to go along with it?I promise you, you will go “off course”. You will “follow a different path”. You will get “redirected”. It’s all okay. It’s necessary, and it leads to new adventures and new opportunities.

 

Consider This Fictitious Day

 

* 8:30 You and your children begin the day with stretching, exercise and/or prayer time. Everyone is smiling and well-rested. The bigger kids help make smoothie bowls for breakfast at 8:30 am while their younger siblings clean up their toys. Breakfast is followed by journal writing and free reading. Your group history lesson begins at 10:00 followed by a snack (which the kids prepare themselves) and a short free-play or free-time session for everyone until exactly 10:45, which leaves just enough time to fit in some handwriting practice before it’s time to involve the kids in preparing a healthy lunch. (more…)

The Importance of Reading Aloud To Your Kids

The Importance of Reading Aloud

​When I was in graduate school I learned all the reasons why reading aloud to students is so important.  Aside from the obvious, the benefits of reading aloud extends to students beyond the pre-reading stage, and even all the way up through high school.

When I did start teaching I took an inservice based upon the teaching of Jim Trelease and his book The Read Aloud Handbook. I knew intuitively that what he said about literacy was correct and I implemented many of his strategies with great success for my students.  I highly recommend his book.  It is one that you will never give away or sell because you will refer to it throughout your homeschooling years.

We love reading aloud so much that we do it as often as we can.  It is important also to read silently to a sibling, a parent or a buddy, but some of our most treasured moments in our homeschool are when I am reading aloud to my kids.

Students whose parents and/or teachers read aloud to them on a consistent basis become better readers.  Kids who are read-aloud to develop many skills important to literacy and these are only a few:
listening comprehension
reading comprehension
vocabulary building
reading fluency
proper pronunciation
grammar
and much, much more

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