Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Florida Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Florida? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Florida homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Florida homeschool requirements to get you started:
Florida Homeschool Law
According to Florida Statute 1003.21, compulsory school attendance is required for ”all children who have attained the age of 6 years or who will have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year or who are older than 6 years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years.” In addition, “children who will have attained the age of 5 years on or before September 1 of the school year are eligible for admission to public kindergartens during that school year under rules adopted by the district school board.”
Per the Florida Department of Education, “home education is a parent-directed educational option that satisfies the requirement for regular school attendance.” A “home education program” means “the sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his or her parent in order to satisfy the attendance requirements of s. 1002.41, s. 1003.01(13), and s. 1003.21(1)” (s. 1002.01). According to the Florida Department of Education, “Students have the opportunity to explore and learn at their own pace, in any location or at any time.”
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
Based on s. 1002.41, a homeschool parent “is not required to hold a valid regular Florida teaching certificate.”
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! “The parent, as defined in s. 1000.21, who establishes and maintains a home education program shall notify the district school superintendent of the county in which the parent resides of her or his intent to establish and maintain a home education program. The notice must be in writing, signed by the parent, and include the full legal names, addresses, and birthdates of all children who shall be enrolled as students in the home education program. The notice must be filed in the district school superintendent’s office within 30 days of the establishment of the home education program.”
Once notified by the parent, “the district school superintendent shall accept the notice and immediately register the home education program upon receipt of the notice. The district may not require any additional information or verification from the parent unless the student chooses to participate in a school district program or service. The district school superintendent may not assign a grade level to the home education student or include a social security number or any other personal information of the student in any school district or state database unless the student chooses to participate in a school district program or service.”
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
You do have options for the home education of your child, including participation in some school district programs and services. For example, “a school district may provide access to career and technical courses and programs for a home education program student who enrolls in a public school solely for the career and technical courses or programs (s. 1011.62).” Homeschoolers are also eligible, and are given priority, for Florida Virtual School (s. 1002.37).
Florida Homeschool Requirements
Even though Florida does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Florida homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- File the required Letter of Intent to establish and maintain a home education program with the district school superintendent of the county of residence.
- Submit annual evaluations to the school district of residence.
- “File a written notice of termination upon completion of the home education program with the district school superintendent, along with the annual evaluation […] within 30 days of termination (s. 1002.41).”
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
“The parent shall provide for an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the student’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability. The parent shall select the method of evaluation and shall file a copy of the evaluation annually with the district school superintendent’s office in the county in which the student resides. The annual educational evaluation shall consist of one of the following:
- 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;
- The student shall take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher;
- 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;
- 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
- 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” (s. 1002.41).
Homeschoolers do have access to some district testing: “Industry certifications, national assessments, and statewide, standardized assessments offered by a school district shall be available to home education program students. Each school district shall notify home education program students of the available certifications and assessments; the date, time, and locations for the administration of each certification and assessment; and the deadline for notifying the school district of the student’s intent to participate and the student’s preferred location.”
What happens to my child’s annual testing results?
“The district school superintendent shall accept the results of the annual educational evaluation of the student in a home education program. If the student does not demonstrate educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability, the district school superintendent shall notify the parent, in writing, that such progress has not been achieved.
The parent shall have 1 year from the date of receipt of the written notification to provide remedial instruction to the student. At the end of the 1-year probationary period, the student shall be reevaluated […]. Continuation in a home education program shall be contingent upon the student demonstrating educational progress commensurate with her or his ability at the end of the probationary period (s. 1002.41).”
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
According to s. 1002.41, “The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio must consist of the following:
- A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used.
- Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.”
“The parent shall determine the content of the portfolio, preserve it for 2 years, and make it available for inspection, if requested, by the district school superintendent, or the district school superintendent’s agent, upon 15 days’ written notice. Nothing in this section shall require the district school superintendent to inspect the portfolio.”
In addition to the required recordkeeping, we also recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. This includes:
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Florida homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Florida Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Florida homeschool law and meeting Florida homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
Home education students may participate in interscholastic extracurricular student activities in accordance with the provisions of s. 1006.15.
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Florida Department of Education assures families that “home education students are able to enter institutions of higher learning.” “Home education students may participate in the Bright Futures Scholarship Program in accordance with the provisions of s. 1009.53–s. 1009.538” and “may participate in dual enrollment programs in accordance with s. 1007.27(4) and s. 1007.271(13).” They are also “eligible for admission to Florida College System institutions in accordance with the provisions of s. 1007.263” and “admission to state universities in accordance with the policies and guidelines of the Board of Governors.” In addition to minimum standards of the State Board of Education, homeschool students enrolling in a community college must submit a “signed affidavit submitted by the student’s parent or legal guardian attesting that the student has completed a home education program pursuant to the requirements of s. 1002.41” (s. 1007.263).
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Florida homeschool law and Florida homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Florida Homeschool Groups by county.