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
2. Have your child take a nationally normed standardized test
3. Have your child take a state assessment test (such as FCAT)
4. Have a psychological evaluation done by a FL certified psychologist
5. Some other agreement that you have worked out between yourself and the Superintendent of schools in your county.
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 favorite books read each year, and/or any textbooks used.
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 or plan to have your child tested.
Q. What paperwork is required in order to register as a home educated student in Florida?
You will need to send a letter of intent to homeschool to the school board office in 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.
Q. Do I need to keep attendance records?
No, you do not.
Q. 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.
Q. Does my child have to take the FCAT or FSA?
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.
Q. How do I know if my child is making adequate progress?
You have different options for the end of the year evaluations in Florida. Most people either choose to have their students tested, or they choose a portfolio review. Only you can 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.
Q. What does a portfolio review consist of?
Please see this page for more information on the portfolio review process.
Q. I’ve heard talk of umbrella schools. What are they?
Umbrella 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. Homeschooled students who are registered with private umbrella schools are considered as private schooled students, and not home educated students in the eyes of the state. Different rules apply.
Q. 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 while 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 or Facebook search. Some co-ops still communicate via yahoo groups, so you might want to search there too.
Q. Can I use Florida Virtual School?
Yes, however, there are a couple of different ways to use FLVS. Many homeschoolers use the FLVS Flex program, which is their part-time program. You are free to pick and choose which courses you'd like your homeschooled student to take. Under the FLEX program, you may start a course at any time during the year. Please note that FLVS also has a full-time program. This is different, and students are required to follow all of the rules that public-schooled students follow such as schedule and testing.
Q. How can I sign up my child for dual-enrollment with our local college?
We are so fortunate to have this option for our children! For more information, please contact your local school board office and/or your local college. Please note: to qualify for dual-enrollment, you must have your child registered as a home-educated student with your county school board office. Students who are registered under umbrella schools are not eligible for dual-enrollment.
Q. 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.