Homeschooling, or home education, became legal in the Sunshine State in 1985 and has drawn more and more Florida students ever since. In the years since the pandemic, the number of families choosing to homeschool their children has soared to record-breaking heights.
In the 2021-22 school year, over 105,000 Florida families homeschooled their kids. That's an increase of 110% over the 2011-12 school year. Obviously, there's something Florida parents recognize about homeschooling that makes them choose it over public school or private school.
Florida has more home education students than 46 other states in the country. Only Alaska, Montana, and Oklahoma have more.
So, what is it about homeschooling that's so appealing to Florida residents? And how do you get started homeschooling in Florida?
Read on to find out!
Benefits of Homeschooling in Florida
While there are many benefits of homeschooling, including customization of curriculum, self-directed study, and higher standardized test scores, each family has its own priorities. Some may want the high quality of a private education but need to find a way to manage it on a shoestring budget.
Others may need to provide their special needs child with a safe, supportive environment in which they can learn at their own pace.
All these things and more are possible with homeschooling. As more parents realize this, they turn to home education as a solution.
Step one in their journey is ensuring they're compliant with Florida state laws.
Homeschool Laws in Florida
Florida homeschooling regulations are relatively relaxed. They offer parents three options:
Homeschool under the homeschool statute
Homeschool under a homeschool "umbrella" program
Homeschool with a private tutor
Each option has its own rules, with option one having the strictest of the three.
Option One: Homeschooling Under the Homeschool Statute
If you choose this option, you have 30 days to file a notice of intent with your county's superintendent. This is a one-time notice and does not need to be filed annually. It must include the full legal names, addresses, and birthdates of your homeschool students.
Secondly, you must maintain a portfolio of records and materials. This can include a log of activities, worksheets, writing samples, and a list of reading materials used. You must keep the portfolio for two years after the work is completed. The district school superintendent or their agent can review your portfolio only after 15 days written notice.
This option is the only one for which each student must be evaluated by one of several qualifying options every year. The options are listed on the HSLDA website as well as a sample evaluation form.
Finally, when your student completes homeschooling or, if your family moves out of the county, you should file a notice of termination with the county superintendent within 30 days of that event.
Option Two: Homeschooling Under a Private School "Umbrella" Program
Your homeschool program falls under this option if you enroll your child in a private school registered with the Florida Department of Education, which complies with all private school requirements mandated by the state of Florida.
An example of an online program that falls under this option is the Florida Virtual School. The FLVS has been around for over 25 years and offers a variety of educational support to school districts across the country. However, they are an accredited school in the state of Florida, and FLVS Full Time option falls under the Private School "Umbrella" Program.
Option Three: Homeschooling With a Private Tutor
To select this option, your child's instructor must be a Florida-certified teacher. They must also keep records and make reports as required by the state and school district.
Your student must attend classes for 180 days (or equivalent on an hourly basis).
Regardless of the path you decide is right for your family, there are plenty of programs and resources to help you make it happen the right way.
Once you've chosen which option is right for you and you're compliant with Florida law, it's time to start your homeschool journey!
If you'll be teaching your child yourself, the next step will be choosing a program or curriculum that meets your needs. There are many options.
Online or printed. High-cost or budget-friendly. Accredited or not.
We've put together a list of reputable selections for you to help you get started.
Online Homeschool Programs
The benefits of using an online home education program are many. Often, the program will keep records of educational progress for you, saving you time and effort. It will also typically grade lessons for you - an added convenience.
Many online curricula offer a high level of customization, meaning parents can adjust lessons to meet their child's specific needs and allow their child to go at their own pace.
Here are our top three picks for online programs:
This program is an amazing value since it's free and it offers comprehensive coursework for all ages, pre-K through 12th grade.
Calvert has two online options, one allows parents to customize their child's complete online curriculum, and the other is an accredited online academy taught by certified teachers. Both options are available for students in grades 3-12.
Memoria Press launched its online academy in 2006, which serves students in grades 3-12. It's fully accredited and its curriculum offers a classical education from a Christian worldview.
Print Homeschool Programs
For parents interested in a more "old-school" approach, there are still many publishing companies that offer exceptional printed curricula. Our top three picks are:
Since 1972, they've been one of the top names in homeschool education. Their program comes from a Christian perspective and offers a comprehensive curriculum following classical and Charlotte Mason methods.
Another option for those looking for a faith-based curriculum, Sonlight has been around since 1990 and covers all basic subjects. It also offers a money-back guarantee if parents are unhappy with the program.
While AOP has both online and printed curricula to choose from, their printed option, Lifepac is Bible-based, self-directed, and contains materials for homeschooled students from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Bonus: Calvert Homeschool
Calvert has a print curriculum for pre-K through 2nd grade. These are comprehensive, engaging programs that are economical and provide a solid educational foundation.
Of course, these aren't the only options available, but they are some of the best. We encourage you to explore the links we provided thoroughly. Choosing a curriculum is a big decision, but with the right information and your goals in mind, you can make the right choice.
Florida Homeschooling Resources
All homeschooling families need additional resources and support to succeed on their journey. Every state has different requirements, homeschooling in Florida is very different than homeschooling in NC! The Florida Parent Educators Association helps parents across the state to connect and guide each other through home education. They share resources, experience, and form co-ops and field trip groups.
There are many other groups to find and join on Facebook and elsewhere online. Simply search for homeschool groups in your area.
Another great way to meet like-minded people is to attend conventions. Homeschool conventions draw vendors and homeschoolers from all over the country. It's a convenient and quick way (over a weekend) to meet a lot of new friends, learn new approaches to home education, and hear new ideas from innovators in the industry.
No matter how you homeschool, every journey is unique and special. Although it can be challenging at times, once you begin homeschooling you'll discover why so many Florida families have made the switch and would never go back.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Much Does It Cost To Homeschool In Florida?
The annual cost to homeschool in Florida is between $700 and $1,800 per student. This is well below the average annual tuition for private school students, which is just under $10,000.
2. How Many Hours Are Required For Homeschooling in Florida?
There are no hourly requirements for homeschoolers in Florida. Students must be evaluated every year by either a portfolio evaluation or a state student assessment test.
3. At What Age Do You Start Homeschooling?
Children between the ages of 6 and 16 are legally required to attend school in Florida, whether private, public, or home education.