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Umbrella Schools vs. Registering Through Your County Office

I’ve been hearing some debate about this topic and thought I’d toss in my own two cents.

Umbrella schools are often a choice among those families who home school florida who believe that any other type of evaluation is too much “government interference.” Since I do portfolio evaluations exclusively, I can assure you that I am not “government”, I do not work for the county as an evaluator, and I have no intentions on becoming “big brother” (or sister.) I’m just about as intervention-free as you can get regarding our rights as homeschooling parents (and citizens of the U. S. in general.)

Why don’t I choose an umbrella school? Because I like my children to be considered home schooled students on paper. Yeah, I know it’s a formality and is possibly splitting hairs, but if you are under an umbrella school your children are not considered to be home schooled students, they are considered private school students by the. . . you got it: government.

I want my government to know that I choose home schooling.

I don’t want anyone having records of my children’s vaccination status (or lack thereof;) copies of their birth certificates or social security numbers; and I don’t want anyone keeping any attendance records for me. If I choose to school less (or more) than the required amount of days, it is my choice.

One of easiest end of year evaluations that you could do when you home school in Florida is to have a portfolio evaluation done. This is an informal, easy way to demonstrate “progress” that the evaluator is looking for. No muss, no fuss. No testing, no worries, no stress.

I’ve heard someone say that they worry about the portfolio evaluation process because they don’t know what category to put certain activities in. For instance, let’s say a family spent a week doing nothing but cooking. This parent knows that math is involved in this process, but doesn’t know how to go about showing that on their child’s portfolio.

This is not cause for concern because it is not necessary. To remedy this and alleviate this person’s anxiety, I would simply say to log that in your records somewhere with a sentence as simple as, “Spent the week cooking and baking.” Period. Enough said.

This is the beauty of the portfolio. It can be as detailed or as broad as you want it to be. You can tailor it to your style of teaching and your children’s style of learning. You never have to show your child’s medical records, keep attendance or worry about gaining copies of transfer records, if you child does need to attend school (public or other private school) in the future. You keep a copy of the signed portfolio evaluation and send one in to the county office. That’s it.

On a final note, I feel fortunate to live in FL and to home school in Florida; a home school-friendly state. Talk to someone from, say, Vermont or New York for example. I admire Florida for having the larger vision and giving several options to us. One size never fits all.

2 comments to Umbrella Schools vs. Registering Through Your County Office

  • annmarie

    I started with AEI and have stuck with it mostly because it doesn’t require anything other than me sending in a yearly attendance report saying they have completed 180 days of school. Honestly, it’s a little low key even for me – no testing, no evals, no reporting of any kind of progress. I was planning on having them go through the county this year, but just stuck with AEI. Maybe in the fall I’ll change it because Jane would be in 9th grade. I agree – Florida is an easy place to homeschool. I’m so glad for that.

  • Heidi

    Thanks for sharing your “two cents”…I personally think it’s worth more than that!! ; ) I’m thankful for Florida’s homeschooling laws…it’s made for a relatively stress-free first year for us!!

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