The initial homeschool method that people connect with this terminology is when parents teach their children at home completely outside of any traditional school system either public or private. The parent takes the responsibility of choosing and putting together a curriculum that covers all necessary subjects and core areas. They are fully involved with teaching the material along with keeping records, scheduling annual evaluations and filing an intent with their county of residence to ensure that their student is not identified as absent or truant. Florida law specifically requires formal annual evaluations conducted by certified teachers in several options so that education development and knowledge levels can be determined.
This is used to confirm that the child has learned what they need to in order to move to the next grade. While every state has its own set of requirements, it is always recommended that parents keep excellent documentation regarding the school schedule, the curriculum used in each grade, extracurricular studies and copies of the testing results. This approach is primarily what individuals think of when they hear ‘homeschooling’ but it is no longer the only option that families have to consider when they want to pull their child out of the public or local private school options.
A lesser-known approach that Florida permits are homeschooling with a private tutor who is certified to teach through the state and must keep records of hours and reports as required by the state. The above option is typically performed on a full-time basis whether it is only done for a single grade or for multiple years. Private tutoring as a ‘school’ method is more popular as a short-term solution because of the cost and is generally seen in situations where health issues may be involved. This is a great solution to ensure that the student does not fall behind in their studies and can return to a traditional format or transition to full-time homeschooling at a later time with little to no bumps in the material.
The 3rd option has become more popular over the past few years because it is the most flexible and minimizes the amount of administrative work that parents have to do on their own. Commonly known as ‘umbrella’ programs, these are home school programs in Florida offered by a recognized educational institution that is already established with the state. Private schools, both religious and those with no faith curriculum, have grown their programs by establishing home school programs with part and full-time options to accommodate the needs of students. This means that parents can enroll their children in a top-rated school that is a geographically long distance from them but their child will receive the same level of education as those in the traditional classroom.
Parents are identified as the full-time teacher for the younger grades with the ability to transition to part-time starting in 3rd grade where the professional instructors take over and continue the process all the way through graduation. One of the top benefits of using this type of program is that there are no extra steps to go through with the state or county because enrollment is considered the same as in any other school. Records such as report cards, transcripts and grades are maintained by the school’s administrative staff and are easily accessible to the parent through the online portal login which is provided once the admissions process is complete. The cost of these programs is typically less than a traditional attendance because the overhead is lower but the level of education is the same, if not higher because students are able to work at their own pace and have more control over how and when they get the work done.
With many families having two working parents, this option allows them to choose the best option for their student to get the education they need without the stress and pressure present in a public school, at an affordable cost and with experienced teachers so that parents can continue to play a supporting role. When reviewing the available home school programs in Florida it is important to ensure that they meet the state’s requirements no matter where you are located. One of the other benefits of the ‘umbrella’ option is that it maintains the traditional parent/child relationship with the ability to have closer communication and bond over education because they are involved but necessarily taking it completely over.
Making the decision to homeschool one or all of your children is a personal and family choice that can significantly enhance their education through the environment change, top curriculum studies and the development of excellent self-skills they will need later in life. Take a moment to review each of the available options to decide which one is best, keeping in mind lifestyle, time commitment, cost and meeting the child’s needs so that the decision will be a positive experience.