Ready to start homeschooling in Florida but not exactly sure what to do?
Just like there are so many different options for homeschooling, there are also different homeschool requirements for each US state. Florida only has a few simple requirements for home education, but it is important to know and follow them.
I meet with many new Florida homeschool families each year. Sometimes they have missed an important step just because they were unaware of the rules. It ends up causing them extra stress and problems, which is something I’d love to help you avoid!
Here’s everything you need to know to begin your Florida homeschooling journey in 5 easy steps!
1. Send in a written notice of intent to the school district superintendent in your county.
This notice must be sent in within 30 days of beginning your homeschooling program. Once you submit it, you should receive a letter back confirming that your child is enrolled as a homeschooler. The most important part of this letter is the date, called your homeschool anniversary date. Keep this letter, or at least record the date somewhere. This date is the deadline for you to submit some form of assessment each year to the county, which we will go over in step 4.
Most counties have a letter of intent form that you can fill out and send in, but some counties also add additional optional information on that form. All that is required to submit is the following:
- Name of each homeschooled student
- Parent’s signature
You do not have to send in any medical forms, previous testing, report cards, or other proof of schooling. You also do not need to opt in for the state testing. In fact, I would recommend you not to do that. There are plenty of better options for your annual evaluation, which we will discuss in just a minute.
Who needs to send in a notice?
You need to submit a notice of intent for each child beginning with the school year where they turn six by February. You do not need to submit a new letter each year. Once registering through that county, your child will be enrolled there as a homeschooler until you submit a letter of termination.
You also do not need to send in a letter if you are in a community school or other private homeschool group, sometimes called an umbrella school. But you do need to if you are taking full-time dual enrollment classes.
Here’s a link for the homeschooling contact for each county in FL.
Within 30 days of sending in your letter of intent, you will want to weigh all your options and figure out your plan for starting to homeschool. In Florida, you do not need to have a teaching degree or previous experience teaching to homeschool. You can use a tutor, co-ops, online or in person classes, or any other resources to help you teach your child. You are just the person in charge of overseeing their home education for the year and also keeping track of this next item.
2. Maintain a portfolio of educational records.
Your portfolio must include two things:
- a log of educational activities including the titles of reading materials
- samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials
One simple way to log the activities is using a planner and writing in your homeschooling activities and lessons as you complete them. Make sure to jot down the books you use and read too.
Other options are weekly dated checklists with work and resources that your child can check off as it is completed, or even just adding dates to workbooks and other work. You can also take pictures of experiments, projects, and other hands-on activities.
In Florida, there are no required minimum number of days that you must homeschool or minimum hours per day. Just homeschool your child as you choose through the year and save a few samples of their work in each subject as you go. You can save something from the beginning, middle, and end of the year to show the progress they are making and keep everything in a binder to create this portfolio. Digital samples are fine. Your portfolio could be a collection of Google docs.
This portfolio is basically a snapshot of your year and is all that you need for the portfolio evaluation option in step 4. It could also be inspected by the superintendent as proof that your child is actually homeschooling, which is the next step.
3. Make the portfolio available for inspection by the superintendent upon 15-day written notice.
When I started homeschooling my children in Florida in the early 2000’s, I was told true horror stories from moms of the previous generation. They talked about local authorities showing up at their door to immediately inspect their homeschooling situation after a neighbor had issued a complaint about their children being outside during the school day.
What a nightmare!
Thankfully, this is not how homeschooling inspections work in Florida today. The county superintendent does have the right to inspect your portfolio, but only after a written notice of 15 days. And you submit it or take it in to the county office — they do not come to your home to view it.
Of all of the hundreds of homeschooling families I have helped over the years, I have not personally known anyone who has been asked for a portfolio inspection by the superintendent. I have, however, looked at many of their portfolios to help them with this next Florida homeschooling step.
4. Provide an annual educational evaluation of the student’s educational progress to the superintendent.
Again, just like your options in deciding how to homeschool your child in Florida, you have different options for this annual evaluation, including:
- a Florida certified teacher’s evaluation based on a portfolio review and discussion with the student
- a nationally-normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher
- a state student assessment test at a location and under district approved testing conditions
- a student evaluation by a psychologist holding an valid, active license
- another valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and superintendent
One of the simplest options is the Florida certified teacher’s evaluation, since you will already have your child’s portfolio with all of the work to show the teacher.
This is the option that most of the families I work with use, and I would love to help you with a portfolio evaluation when your child finishes their homeschooling for the year. My goal with evaluations is to keep them as stress-free and informative as possible for you and your child.
No matter whom you choose, just make sure your evaluator is supportive and knowledgeable about homeschooling.
You can also submit test scores from achievement tests like the IOWA, Terra Nova, or Stanford for this yearly evaluation. If they are in high school, you can submit SAT, ACT, or PERT scores for that year. Final grades from FLVS flex courses count as well. You can contact the county homeschooling office to discuss possible evaluation options for your child.
Just keep track of your date from step 1, and submit your evaluation within 12 months from that date. You can always submit it early, but try not to submit it late.
Which brings us to the final easy step…
5. Keep the portfolio for two years.
You can definitely keep it longer, but the Florida homeschooling law only requires you to keep it for two years. You will want to keep final grades for high school classes for your transcript and possibly art and other work samples for any college portfolio requirements. But you don’t have to keep every worksheet and drawing from kindergarten for longer than two years.
Unless you want to. Just remember: keeping a few samples from each year is sweet — keeping them all can quickly qualify you for a new episode about hoarders.
And that’s it. When you move to a different county, enroll in a public or private school, or graduate your homeschooler you will need submit a letter of termination to the school district.
Any homeschooler registered through the county can participate in sports and other classes through the school system, take dual enrollment classes in high school, and apply for Bright Futures Scholarships.
It’s that easy to homeschool in Florida! If you have any questions about how to start homeschooling, scheduling a homeschool consultation or evaluation, or anything else related to homeschooling, please contact me.
Here’s to a sunny year of homeschooling in Florida for you and your child!