If it seems like you’re hearing about people homeschooling more than ever, it’s not just your imagination. The nationwide number of homeschooled students doubled between 1999 and 2011. Florida saw a huge 9.6% increase in homeschooled children during 2014-15, its biggest jump in five years. The local community is at the forefront of this surge, with nearby Duval County having the highest numbers in the state.
Contributing to the growth is the wide range of supplemental resources available to homeschooling families in local communities. Resources such as online curriculums, local homeschool family co-ops, library and museum programs and blended learning centers have opened up a world of enrichment for homeschooled students. Additionally, Florida law requires public high schools to open their interscholastic sports and activities to homeschoolers.
St. Augustine mom, Margaret Snow, loved homeschooling in our local community for the flexibility and all of the fun local learning activities. “We go to the main library on a regular basis to check out books and DVDs that correspond to topics we’re covering in science or history. Additionally, we participated in art, music, media and PE at our local school. This allowed my daughter to join in learning and fun with students in her grade. Also at the local school, she participated in an accelerated reader program where she tracked points and was rewarded for books she read during the school year. We went on many field trips that were available locally – Fort Menendez, Castillo de San Marcos Fort, trolly tour, Whetstone Chocolates, MOSH, the zoo, etc.”
- St. Johns Virtual School – An online K-12 school offered by the St. Johns County school district.
- Florida Parent-Educators Association (FPEA) – Online state-wide support group and information resource.
- Home Education Foundation (HEF) – Government lobbyist group representing home educators in the State of Florida.
- Learning is for Everyone (LIFE) of Florida – Secular state-wide home education support group and resource center.
- Homeschoolers by the Sea – Christian-based homeschool parent support and co-op group serving St. Johns County.
- Classical Conversations – Christian-based homeschool parent support and co-op group incorporating the Classical education style; several groups available in St. Johns County.
- Florida Homeschool Field Trips Directory – A comprehensive list of education field trip sites by county.
- Send a notice of intent to your district school superintendent no later than 30 days after beginning your homeschool program. The letter must state your intent and include the name and birthdate of each child, your address and your signature.
Maintain a portfolio of records (a log of educational activities and reading materials) concurrently along with the instruction. The portfolio must also contain samples of any writings, worksheets or creative materials used by the student.
Make your portfolio available for inspection by the superintendent upon request. The superintendent must provide 15 day’s written notice.
- Submit an annual evaluation to the superintendent’s office. Annual evaluations may be in the form of an individual evaluation performed by a Florida-certified teacher of your choice, a standardized achievement test administered by a certified teacher, a state student assessment test, a psychological evaluation, or any other method mutually agreed upon between the parent and superintendent.
- Preserve your portfolio for two years.
- File a letter of termination with the superintendent’s office within 30 days of ending a homeschool program. This could be due to completion of the program, enrollment in a public or private school, or moving from the county.
WHERE TO START
For anyone who is considering homeschooling but doesn’t know where to start, there is a helpful guide called “Starting Point” that can be found on the St. Johns County Home Education website.