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Learn from Home Options

Homeschool Information

Florida currently has several options that allow students to learn at home. 

  • Home education program

  • Florida Virtual School and other full-time virtual school options

  • Full-time tutoring program that reports to school district

  • Private school offering an at-home option (aka umbrella school)

  • NEW: Personalized Education Program (Applications are now open)

Home Education

  • Parent directs the education

  • Parent decides the levels, methods and materials, schedule, assignments, standards, subjects covered, etc.

  • No required number of days & hours

  • Parent keeps records

  • Parent can teach or find a tutor, co-op, online program, workbooks,, etc. to teach

  • Parent chooses method for evaluation to verify that the child is learning

  • No birth certificate nor health forms required to register

  • Gives legal guarantees and rights

  • Child must make educational progress commensurate with ability

  • Can begin any time of the year

  • Most popular option for homeschooling in FL

Full-Time Tutoring

  • Tutor(s) must be FL certified in the specific subjects and grade levels taught to students

  • Tutors send reports directly to school district

  • Must track attendance--Specific number of days for all; number of hours varies by grade level

  • Students must meet public school requirements

  • Typically used for students who will be out of school temporarily due to health or travel issues

  • Not a popular option as Home Education can use tutors if desired with fewer regulations

FL Virtual Full-Time

  • Public school online options for learning at home

  • Can only enroll students right before a semester begins

  • School decides student classes, schedule, level, assignments, due dates, etc.

  • Specific number of hours & days required

  • Must meet all public school requirements

  • State and county versions vary somewhat

  • Public school programs with pros & cons of public school

  • Requires birth certificate, recent physical and immunization records (or waiver forms) to register

  • Note that FLVS Flex options can be used by students in home education or, with guidance counselor approval, by students in  private school programs; students using a state scholarship FES:EO or FES:UA to homeschool must pay to use FLVS Flex

Private School Options

  • Certain private schools offer at-home options (aka umbrella schools)
  • School must be registered with the state of Florida
  • Requires birth certificate, recent physical and immunization records (or waiver forms) to register
  • Specific number of hours & days required
  • School must keep attendance and other records
  • Parent should keep records of the education if the school doesn't (and some don't)
  • School can change rules and requirements at any time
  • Amount of support offered by schoolvaries greatly
  • Reputation of schools vary greatly
  • Private school laws apply to umbrella school students
PEP FTC ESA Voucher

Personalized Education Program

  • A new homeschooling option in FL

  • Applications ARE OPEN

  • Priority goes to those with an income under 185% of the Federal Poverty guidelines

  • Second priority given to those with income under 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

  • Provides financial assistance from the state of Florida (called "school voucher" or ESA by media) through the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.

  • Apply through a Scholarship Funding Organization such as AAA or Step Up for Students

  • Available to a limited number the first years

  • Parent files a Student Learning Plan with the scholarship organization

    • Parent can edit the plan throughout the year

    • Plan must identify goods and services needed to address the academic needs of the student

    • The plan must include testing:

      • Florida's statewide assessment (public school testing) OR

      • A nationally norm-referenced test on a state-approved list.

        • Some AFE members offer testing services

        • Tutoring centers and testing centers are other places to obtain testing services

    • Parent directs the education

    • Parent chooses levels, methods, and materials used for teaching, the schedule, assignments, standards, subjects covered, etc.

    • Parent keeps records of learning

    • Plan might include tutors, co-op programs, workbooks, etc. or might include parent teaching

  • Follows public school calendar as far as testing

  • Gives legal guarantees and rights

  • Scholarship parents must pay for some options that are free to home education students:

    • Any FLVS classes taken

    • Any public school classes or services used

    • Any college classes, trade school classes, etc. taken

  • Choice Navigators

    • Are optional consultants to help set up educational plan

    • Can be paid with scholarship funds

    • Can help parent figure out a plan for student learning, inform them of curriculum and other educational options, etc.

    • Do NOT control curriculum choice or Student Learning Plan

    • Must have valid teaching certificate, adjunct teaching certificate, bachelor's or graduate degree in area of instruction, demonstrated mastery of subject area, OR have national or international certification in a research-based training program

    • Some AFE members offer choice navigation services; some have been offering similar consultation services for years and are very familiar with homeschooling possibilities

  • Funding provided will vary by school district and grade level but was over $6000 per student last year

  • AAA Scholarships shares information on the PEP here

  • Step Up for Students shares FAQs on the PEP here

Links to scholarship organizations which oversee the FTC scholarship:

These organizations also oversee the FES:UA, aka Gardiner, which gives funds to children with certain special needs and allows them to homeschool under the home education option.

20,000 new FTC scholarships will be granted  this year. Apply early if interested.

This information was updated 5/28/2023. More changes are expected as details are worked out.

A Brief History of Florida Homeschooling

boy in old classroom

Children have learned at home throughout history--though it was much less common by the early 1900s due to compulsory school attendance laws. In the 1980s, after changes in Federal tax laws and school funding laws caused many private schools to shut down, the number of parents teaching their own increased. At that time, homeschoolers had to find a private school that would agree to oversee their homeschooling, but since they weren't actually going to a school to learn, officials came after many of them with charges of truancy. Some parents were arrested and DCF took (or threatened to take) custody of some children who were learning at home.

 

Homeschooling parents fought back. Craig Dickinson and Rep. Daniel Webster (Orlando) (a legislator who wanted to homeschool his own) worked in Tallahassee to put home education laws into place to protect the right of parents to teach their own without issues with truancy investigators and without having to be subject to private schools that could change policies without warning. Florida's homeschool parents created a nonprofit organization, Florida Home Education Association (FPEA), as part of the efforts to protect their newly-won freedoms.  A national group of homeschooling lawyers, HSLDA,  and others also helped in this fight as homeschooling became clearly legal in every state in the United States.

Florida's home education laws provided protections from school district interference, but it soon became clear that those freedoms could easily be lost if other laws were passed that negatively impacted home education laws. Craig and Brenda Dickinson created a nonprofit organization, Home Education Foundation (HEF), to allow them to collect donations so they could work in Tallahassee to guard those freedoms. They worked in Tallahassee going through proposed legislation to see if any bills would impact homeschooling and worked with the Florida Dept. of Education to help ensure that their policies fit Florida home education laws. Consider donating to HEF to help support them as they continue this fight.In the decades since Craig's death in 1993, Brenda has not only worked to protect the rights of homeschooling families, but has also gained guarantees that allow home education students to participate in high school (and sometimes middle school) public school sports and other extracurricular activities, in the college dual enrollment program, in the Bright Futures scholarship program, and to be recognized as high school graduates by the Florida college system. She helped make FLVS Flex available to homeschoolers and served on the FLVS board in its early days. Even in 2023, Brenda has been fighting in Tallahassee to preserve the freedoms available to homeschoolers.

Today, homeschooling seems to be growing in popularity in Florida (and across the nation). Home education is currently a popular option and educates a large number of Florida's children. Homeschooling through nontraditional private schools in an unofficial format called umbrella schools is still an option; however, private schools don't have to report the number of students educated at home and so no one knows how many students still use this option. In addition to HEF, FPEA and HSLDA, many other state and local organizations, both formal and informal, homeschool support groups, co-ops, exist to help homeschool families figure out how to teach their own, understand the options available, give the children opportunities to learn with other children, and provide support through their homeschooling journeys. Florida homeschoolers have a wide variety of state and local groups, that help homeschool families figure out methods, materials, and other resources that can help them best teach their own, and provide a personalized education that few, if any, institutions can match.

Getting Started Homeschooling
Home Education Option

Step 1: Send a Letter of Intent

Send a Letter of Intent (aka Notice of Intent) to the local school district's Home Education Contact.

Keep a copy for your records!
The date the Letter of Intent is recorded by the district is your deadline for future evaluations.

Recommendations:

  • Email the Letter of Intent to the district's Home Education Contact and keep a copy OR take it in person to the school district headquarters and ask for a copy with the district's date-received stamp.

  • If your child is currently enrolled in a Florida public school, cc'ing the school (the attendance secretary or registrar or guidance counselor tend to be good people to email) on the Letter of Intent can be a simple way to notify them that the child is being withdrawn from the school.
    (The school cannot require the parent to go in person to the school to fill out a withdrawal form if a Letter of Intent is submitted. The school cannot require a specific form.)

A home education program is not a school district program and is registered with the district school superintendent only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements under s. 1003.21(1)
From Florida Statute 1002.41(1)

Notice of Intent form

 

Parents can send in a Letter of Intent and begin homeschooling the very same day.
Or send in the Letter of Intent up to 30 days before starting or up to 30 days after starting (though sending it in when starting will lessen issues with truancy investigations.) A single Letter of Intent can be used for all the children in a family as long as the dates of birth are clearly listed for each child's name.

Parents do not have to wait for confirmation by the district--though the district is required to confirm in writing as of Oct. 2020 per Florida Dept of Education policy.
The parent does not need permission to home educate. The district can only reject the Letter of Intent if the parent previously homeschooled within the past 180 days and did not send in proper documentation to end the homeschooling.

Once the Letter of Intent is submitted, you are legally home educating your child.
Welcome to homeschooling!

PEP
Personalized Education Program

Those who apply for and are granted the FTC scholarship and homeschool will set up a PEP program.
PEP students do NOT register with a Letter of Intent. But instead register with a Student Learning Plan through a scholarship organization.

Step 2: Educating at Home

Once the Letter of Intent is submitted to the district, the student is officially being home educated. The district cannot reject the Letter of Intent (unless the student was previously homeschooled but didn't end the homeschooling with a passing evaluation and a Letter of Termination OR the student isn't old enough to be required to be educated) ; the school district doesn't grant permission to home educate so there's no need to wait for the confirmation that should be sent after sending in a Letter of Intent.

The parent can choose any methods and materials for learning that are  appropriate for the child. Parents might choose informal methods including deschooling and unschooling, or use workbooks or co-op classes, or FLVS Flex, or other online curriculum; parents might hire a tutor to help, or use the resources that a homeschool support group provides, or use library materials, or the parent can create his or her own learning plan and materials.

Florida law requires "sequentially progressive instruction." There are many different means a parent may use to provide “sequentially progressive instruction” such
as:
a. Use a curriculum, or none at all, and instruct the student themselves;
b. Enroll the student part-time in a public or private school;
c. Enroll the student online in the Florida Virtual School FLEX program, a district virtual
school, a private virtual program or other online resources;
d. Enroll the student in correspondence courses or private school video program;
e. Enroll the student in dual enrollment courses at a college, university or career and
technical school or college;
f. Hire a tutor;
g. Take classes from a program designed for home education students, through a home
education cooperative or community; or
h. Participate in 4-H, Toastmasters, TeenPac, Patriot Academy, museums, internships or
other programs available in the state.
Options are limitless. Parent(s) may tailor the student(s) education using any means necessary that
meets the needs and interest of their child(ren).

Step 3: Record-Keeping

Florida law requires home education parents to keep a portfolio (aka records) documenting their children's learning. The portfolio is to include 3 elements:

  1. A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by

  2. Title any reading materials used, and also

  3. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.

Florida law does not define nor describe details of what these records should include beyond  the requirements just mentioned; Florida law gives the parents the right to decide the details of those records.

Florida law does not require homeschooling parents to use public school standards, methods, or materials. Parents can choose to use any materials and methods that they feel will help their children learn. They may use any level of materials that help their children learn.

As long as records of the learning are kept--they must be kept for two years--and educational progress is demonstrated in an evaluation once a calendar year (and within 30 days of ending the homeschooling--whether the student transfers to a school, moves out of Florida, graduates high school, etc.), parents can educate their children as they see fit.

Portfolio Form

Florida law requires home education parents to keep records called a portfolio. These records do not have to be in a scrapbook. A portfolio could be a binder of records, a stack of workbooks, a notebook and pile of papers, a spreadsheet, etc.

Workbooks can be an entire portfolio:
 

  • Log of Educational Activities could be made by putting dates or check marks or highlights or notes on the table of contents pages to show what was done

  • Titles of reading materials can be the titles of the workbooks

  • Samples of materials used or created by the student can be some of the pages in the workbooks

Step 4: Home Education Evaluations

The first evaluation is due by the anniversary of the Letter of Intent. (Unless the student stops homeschooling in Florida prior to that--an evaluation is due with the Letter of Termination within 30 days after stopping homeschooling.)
That means that no matter what time of year a parent begins homeschooling, the parent has a year to turn in the first  evaluation unless the homeschooling ends sooner.

The parent chooses the evaluation method from 5 options:

  • 1. A teacher selected by the parent shall evaluate the student’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the student. Such teacher shall hold a valid regular Florida certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level;

  • 2. The student shall take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher;

  • 3. The student shall take a state student assessment test used by the school district and administered by a certified teacher, at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district;

  • 4. The student shall be evaluated by an individual holding a valid, active license pursuant to the provisions of s. 490.003(7) or (8); or

  • 5. The student shall be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the district school superintendent of the district in which the student resides and the student’s parent.

When are evaluations due?

1. Florida law requires home education parents to submit records of an evaluation
once a year--by the anniversary of the student's Letter of Intent.

2. Parents are also required to submit an evaluation within 30 days after their child stops homeschooling--whether to transfer to a public or private school, to move out of state, or to graduate high school.

A home education program is not a school district program and is registered with the district school superintendent only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements under s. 1003.21(1)
From Florida Statute 1002.41(1)

Two evaluation methods are testing options.
But the evaluation does not have to be a test. The portfolio review evaluation is an option that is not meant to be a test.

From Florida Statute 1002.41(1)(f)

PEP
Personalized Education Program

The new FTC scholarship homeschool option which is NOT the same as home education

PEP students, i.e., those using the FTC Scholarship to fund the education, must use statewide assessments (i.e., public school testing) OR a nationally norm-referenced test from a list of approved tests on the FL Dept of Education's website.

Step 5: Ending Home Education

After a student is done homeschooling, the parent is to send a Letter of Termination to the school district to inform the school district that the home education program is done--whether due to graduating high school, transferring to a public or private school, or moving out of Florida.

Note that if the student is moving to another Florida county (aka school district since every Florida county is a school district), a Transfer Form can be used instead to keep the same evaluation deadline without requiring an extra evaluation.

Notice of Termination form

Association of Florida Evaluators

A notebook and pen
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