The state of Florida is known as a “friendly” state towards homeschooling and educational choices other then traditional public or private schools. There are several choices for families interested in homeschooling in Florida.
The choices other then public school are, (1) choosing to follow a home education program which is defined in the state of Florida under Section 1002.01, F.S. as a sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his or her parent or guardian, in order to satisfy the requirement for compulsory attendance as defined in Section 1002.20, F.S. (2) The next alternative would be to use an umbrella school or private school that offers a homeschooling option. (3) Another option and one that is growing in popularity is FLVS, or Florida Virtual School, which is basically public school that is offered online instead of in a brick and mortar building. (4) Finally hiring a private tutor to teach your child within your home is also an option.
Each choice has its pros and cons and all should be evaluated carefully by the parent and discussed with the child. The path taken can make a difference in the educational outcome and future goals of the child, and should be considered when choosing which option fits your family best.
By choosing the homeschooling option you will have certain responsibilities required of you by law. You must file with your county a notice of intent to homeschool, keep a portfolio of your child’s work that is current and you must keep the portfolio for two years. Each year you must provide an evaluation to the county school district and it must adhere to the guidelines of appropriate evaluations by the state. Once your child completes the homeschool program, or you decide to stop homeschooling you must send a termination letter to your county school district. Also, upon written request and proper notice make your child’s portfolio available to the superintendent for inspection. Many parents fear that by choosing this path their child will become ineligible for certain “school” related perks or functions and that is not entirely true. Your child is still eligible for the Bright Futures Scholarship, inter-scholastic extracurricular activities, and the ability to take classes at FLVS, and even participate in dual enrollment. The biggest downside to some parents is that homeschooled students will not receive a state of Florida high school diploma, though many parents have found that this small detail is not all that important. You should also be aware that by choosing to hire a private tutor to teach your child at home, your child would still fall into this category and all the rules that go with it.
If you opt to use an umbrella or private school with a homeschooling option the above will not apply to you. You will have to adhere to the requirements set forth by the umbrella or private school and those can vary by institution. I would recommend that you speak to several before making your final decision. This will give you the opportunity to find one that best suits your needs, if any do. Some highlighted differences that you will find by choosing this option, as opposed to the home education choice are you cannot participate in any inter-scholastic extracurricular activities unless they are put on by your school, you will receive a transcript and a diploma upon graduation only if your school has this option.
Another choice that is growing in popularity is the Florida Virtual School. If you choose this option as your child’s whole educational path, then this is their public school. All that is necessary of you is to enroll your child in FLVS and adhere to their guidelines. All the benefits that they receive in the brick and mortar public school they will receive in this online one as well.
Florida homeschooling is a wonderful option to traditional school. In a study released in 2010 by the National Home Education Research Institute there are over 2 million children being homeschooled in the U.S.
by Cristina Reinert