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Anyone homeschooling in Florida who can tell me about how it goes with the state/district, etc.?

 

We just moved here in August and I am about to pull at least one of my kids from a public charter Montessori in order to homeschool (something I have been planning for a while, but for various reasons could not begin until now).

 

I have tried to hook up with a local group but there isn't any yahoogroup activity and no responses.

 

I'm in Sarasota County if that makes any difference. Thanks!

 

<takes a deep breath and tries not to panic>

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Florida is one of the easy states. You don't have to test -- a yearly evaluation is sufficient. There are no number of school days required. The only thing that is required is that at evaluation the teacher find that the child has made progress commensurate with his or her ability.

 

I know tons of home educating families in Florida with children who have never sat for a test -- mine, for example. I know exactly how my son is doing and I'm not particularly interested in how he stacks up against other children in the state or country.

 

Florida doesn't make you jump hoops to teach your children. You're going to enjoy this. Congratulations to you!

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Thank you!

 

I will definitely look into the 4H group and I would love to hear your friend's name Tbog, if possible (you can pm me and I will give you my email so she can contact me if she wants, no pressure).

 

Who does the evaluation (and is this something for which we'll have to pay)? How does one find such a person?

 

My daughter who is 6 is very excited. I am going to start with her, and hopefully also bring home my older daughter (who's 9) in a little while too. Since we just moved and she is just settled in, I am hesitant to rock her boat any more than necessary; but it is clear this school situation is not going to work for us long term (it's a nice school, but we're a religious family and we want them to have *our* religious teachings as part of their overall day, and not just in the late afternoon/evening/weekends, kwim?).

 

I feel a little like I'm jumping off a cliff though. Why, when I'm convinced this is the right thing, does it still feel so countercultural and nervewracking? (and by the way I have a Ph.D. and a lot of teaching experience at the university and high school level -- you'd think I'd feel a) confident; and b) comfortable in the knowledge that school in general does not usually impart useful knowledge). Somehow that doesn't translate to emotional peace. Hmmm.

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Florida is super easy, and you basically have two options:

1. Register with your county. Basically send a letter to the school board (exact person is probably on your school district website). Then annually, you can either choose to have a standardized test administer by a certified teacher OR have portofolio evualation done by a certified teacher. You do have the right to have your child take the FCAT at the zoned public school, which is a free option, although I can't say that I know of any HS'ers who have done this. There are many Homeschooling mom's who used to be teachers, keep their credential current, to be able to administer testing/portofolio evals to other HS'ers. Also, other teachers out there who do that for extra $$ as well. Then teacher signs off on a letter that states your child shows satisfactory progress, and you mail that in. Supposed to be due on your anniversary date of your letter of notification.

 

2. The other option is often called Umbrella Schools. Many people choose this option to keep the government completely out of their business. Basically, the government looks at you as if you are private school student, and therefore, leaves you alone. Umbrella schools have different requirements, from providing curriculum/choose your own, required testing/no testing...etc...it runs the gamut. The price also runs the gamut, based on what services they offer. Most umbrella schools are not actual "Schools" but instead an organization created to serve this "umbrella" purpose, as a cover. The most non-instrusive ones ask for the bare basics, JUST enough for you to be covered by the private school rules, and thus, left alone by the government. This usually means vaccination record, quarterly attendance records, and that's about the jist of it. These types are usually very economical as well, $25 or so per student. You usually interact via mail or online, or phone...nothing more.

 

There's a ton of HSers in Florida, and I bet some in your area. Try Yahoo groups...alot of groups use this as communication since it's free. I know there are some Florida Homeschooling groups on Yahoo groups, and you might join that to see if any Sarasota area people on members who can point you local groups.

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Wow, thank you both, this is incredibly helpful!

 

I like that umbrella school concept. I've heard of Clonlara, I will look into more. We are on a tight budget so that will be a factor.

 

My oldest dd is 9. She is in fourth grade, but only because she started school in NY, where the deadline is December 31st. She was born in October, so according to FL, she should be in 3rd. I actually think that although she is very advanced in verbal/English skills, her math skills are more developmentally appropriate (high 3rd grade level). She is in a 3/4 classroom at the Montessori, which works great for her at the moment. She's not quite ready for homeschool although I do think that when her sister begins, she will want to make the move as well (esp. if I guarantee play dates, etc...).

 

My second dd is 6 and in first grade. She is a beginning reader and just open and engaged with everything. She'll be amazing to homeschool.

 

Ds is 4, and currently in our synagogue's preschool in the VPK and liking it a lot. It's Montessori/play based, quite good, and only 10 kids in a class with 2 full time teachers. It's only 4 hrs a day (with a good hour of outside play) so for the moment, he's good. He'll be home with me next year.

 

I don't mind the drive if it works for my kids. I think they would really like it; they're all very much into crafts, handiwork, etc. and unfortunately their mama is without a clue or single talent in that area (my creative energies are writer-oriented or music instead). So I need a way for them to have that outlet.

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