Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond! Florida
Today on Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond!, we learn about what it’s like to homeschool in Florida from Jennifer.
Jennifer is a Catholic, homeschooling mom of six children, each of whom joined the family from various locations around the world. Jennifer blogs at Forever, For Always, No Matter What where she shares about faith, large family living and learning, and practical tips and ideas from her family to yours!
Please note that these experiences, while they may discuss state requirements, are not legal advice, legislative summaries, or compliance recommendations. I encourage you to do your own research on your state’s current homeschool laws and seek help from official sources if necessary. The Home School Legal Defense Agency is a great place to start though you may find a more state-specific organization that you prefer to work with.
“One of the many reasons we moved to Florida was for the myriad of activities that we could do outside all through the year. Well, outside and not need boots and a heavy coat! And Florida does not disappoint.
We moved from a super easy state in which to homeschool, Michigan (basically no reporting whatsoever), to Florida, which does have a few more requirements. Minimal and easy requirements, but still more than we were used to having:
- Florida requires that you must choose one of the following:
- participate with an umbrella school,
- work with a private tutor, or
- present a portfolio to a certified teacher.
- Florida does not require a certain number of days in school, but does require that your students show a level of progress each year. It is also important to maintain a portfolio regardless of which option you choose.
- Public schools here in Florida are generally willing to work with homeschoolers. We are allowed to play sports and even take up to four classes per semester and still be considered a homeschool student. Florida also has a robust online program called Florida Virtual School that provides more options for both homeschooled and non-homeschooled students.
How We Homeschool in Florida
We have been homeschooling for 12 years, 4 of those years in Florida. Our six kids range in age from 16 down to 10. Our oldest now attends the local public school full-time and we have a special needs daughter as well as a couple with learning delays.
The first year we were in our new state, we took advantage of every single field trip we could find. Our focus was not heavy on book work—we were interested in getting to know Florida. It was one of our best homeschooling years as well as a year filled with a lot of family fun. The beach and the Disney parks are wonderful ways to spend the day, but there is so much more to Florida!
We have done two of the three required ways to homeschool legally in Florida (mentioned above) and each has their own pros and cons depending on your wants and needs. Right now, we do portfolios that we present to a certified teacher. It sounds formal but really is a very straightforward process. I kind of enjoy having a bit of accountability as well as being able to bounce ideas off of another person. Many people who do portfolio reviews are former teachers and current homeschoolers.
Standardized testing can be part of maintaining a portfolio, but we have opted to forego testing. We made that decision mostly because my children tend not to shine when it comes to test-taking. It was discouraging to all of us! As homeschoolers we are well aware of what our kids are learning, and not learning, so we prefer to stick with a method that focuses on the growth that I know my kids are making.
When we first moved from Michigan we used an Umbrella school. It was very easy on my part, I only had to report attendance each quarter. As the children have gotten older though, I wanted a bit more structure so I opted to switch to having a portfolio review.
For the third option, parents with a current teaching certificate can homeschool under the “private tutor” option. It simply means they do not have to show an assessment or notification to another certified teacher. I’m not a certified teacher so that isn’t an option for us!
I like that Florida gives homeschool parents the flexibility to choose what works best for each individual family.
We have always been on the more relaxed spectrum of homeschooling. We are big fans of reading aloud and approach much of our day in a family-style way of learning—doing subjects together across grade levels and working together on different projects. As our next two children are approaching high school we are beginning to get more structured. I realize high school doesn’t have to be that way, but that is the route we are choosing to go for our family.
I love that homeschooling has allowed us so much flexibility over the years: homeschooling through a move, homeschooling in a more relaxed way while we adjusted to our move, and through every other blip that has come up across the years.
Homeschooling in Florida can be a rich and varied path and no two homeschools will look the same!”
Do you homeschool in Florida? Share your experience in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.