Abundant support available if you choose to officially homeschool
In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:
1. What are the reasons?
2. Are there rules?
3. What about socialization?
Whether your job requires you to travel and you want to keep your family together, you're concerned about future pandemics or your child wants an accelerated learning program that traditional education can’t accommodate, homeschooling may be an ideal solution.
Palm Beach County resident Renita Perrone decided to homeschool her two children at age 5 because she didn’t want them exposed to their classmates’ behavior.
“We started noticing the behavior of the kids even in elementary school as they walked home from school,” Perrone says. “I knew that was not the behavior I wanted my children to learn. I didn’t feel private school was the best option for us, so I decided to homeschool.”
1. WHAT ARE THE REASONS?
Some students fall behind and need to work on their education year-round. Some parents have religious concerns. Other common reasons for homeschooling are safety concerns and medical or mental health needs, according to Florida Virtual School.
“Many families need the flexibility that homeschooling provides,” says Anne Flenner, a counselor at Florida Virtual School. “Whether the student is an athlete competing at a professional level or a student dealing with anxiety or depression, homeschooling enables them to keep up with their education in the environment that is best suited for their specific situation and that will help them succeed.”
Perrone encourages anyone considering homeschooling to give it a try. The good news is that many options are available, and you don’t have to be a Florida-certified teacher.
“Parents can choose from regionally accredited programs, the Florida Virtual program, Palm Beach Virtual program, go through a private school, umbrella program or choose any curriculum they determine will work best for their child,” says Cheryl Bottini, program planner of Home Education for the School District of Palm Beach County. “Students can enroll in home education 365 days a year and can return to public, charter or private school at any time.”
2. ARE THERE RULES?
If you decide to homeschool, you need to understand home education laws and state statutes. Florida statutes are outlined here on the school district’s website.
You must notify your school district in writing at least 30 days beforehand and maintain a portfolio of records for two years , including a log of activities, instructions, types of materials used and samples of your child’s work.
You have the flexibility to choose the curriculum, but make sure you’re teaching the recommended basics: English, math, science, social studies, a foreign language and an extracurricular activity. You can find curriculum and regionally accredited programs on the Florida Parent Educators Association website. Resources also are available at your local library.
It’s important to keep detailed records so your child receives academic credit. Children transitioning to public school may be required to take state assessments before the school will award credit for certain middle and high-school courses.
If you'd like to homeschool but are worried about how colleges will view it, don't fret, Perrone says. Some colleges are aggressively recruiting homeschooled students, she notes. “They have figured out that homeschool kids have a love for learning and are the leaders for the student body,” she says.
While homeschooling offers the benefits of control, a customized curriculum, flexibility and an enriched education, there also are challenges. Some parents may find it difficult to teach certain subjects. If you have a child with a learning disability, you may not be equipped to oversee it.
“It’s important for parents to reach out for help because the support is there,” Flenner says. “Florida Virtual School has 10 counselors who are available to work with parents to develop a curriculum plan for their specific students, answer questions about SAT, ACT and P.E.R.T. testing and assist in college/career planning.”
3. WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?
If you think lack of socialization is one of the challenges, think again, homeschool advocates say. Homeschooled children have the flexibility to volunteer, travel, participate in clubs and sports in the community and at their zoned public schools, and go on field trips through a support group.
“My kids have more time to be with other people,” Perrone says. “True socialization is not being around a group of people only your age. Homeschool kids are generally comfortable carrying on a conversation with anyone of any age.”
Resources are available to help create or improve your program to provide your child with the best education possible. A great place to learn more is at the Palm Beach County Homeschool Expo, a free event held in August.
Homeschooling support groups are available through Florida Parent Educators Association, Parents Educating Children and your local library.
Homeschooling is a personal choice. To be successful, set up a schedule and stick to it. Keep in mind, everyone’s homeschool schedule will not look the same. Do your research, decide what’s best for your family and have fun getting creative with your curriculum.
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Florida Department of Education
Home Education — information and resources for families interested in homeschooling800-447-1636 Website Email
Florida Parent Educators Association
Support, guidance and information for new and longtime homeschoolers, sharing resources, creating connections, enhancing relationships and breaking down barriers877-275-3732 Website Email
Florida Virtual School
Fully accredited online school for youth who are homeschooled in Florida800-374-1430 Website Email
School District of Palm Beach County
Home Education — information, resources, support and requirements related to homeschooling in Palm Beach County561-434-8052 Website Email