Homeschooling in Florida: Guidance for Getting Started

Looking for Florida homeschooling information? Maybe you know you want to homeschool and are ready to find out what steps you need to take to get started. Or maybe you’re just curious about homeschooling and want to dabble in the basics of homeschooling in Florida: what you’ll need to homeschool, how much it costs to homeschool in Florida, and what the Florida homeschool laws require. This guide was written for you!

Homeschooling in Florida: Guidance for Getting StartedHomeschooling in Florida: Guidance for Getting Started

DISCLAIMER: This article is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official Florida laws before making decisions about educating your children.

Homeschooling in Florida: Guidance for Getting StartedHomeschooling in Florida: Guidance for Getting Started

Is it easy to homeschool in Florida?

Great news! Florida has quite a few school choice options, and it’s easy to homeschool in Florida. 

Lisa F., a Sonlighter in Jacksonville, FL says

We have a lobbyist in Tallahassee who advocates for our right to school with minimal interference.” That lobbyist has obviously been successful. As per the Home School Legal Defense Association, Florida is a low-regulation state. So at least in terms of the state-mandated requirements, you’ll find homeschooling fairly easy in the Sunshine State. 

There are a few minimal requirements outlined below, but nothing onerous. The ease of homeschooling in Florida (plus all the amazing field trip opportunities) makes homeschooling a popular choice. For example, as per FLDOE Sept. 2022 Fact Sheet

For the 2021-22 school year, the numbers provided by the districts indicated that 104,961 families and 152,109 students participated in home education programs.” 

See more homeschooling in Florida stats from the state Department of Education here. Their annual report shows a graph of the homeschool numbers over time and also lists the number of homeschooled children and families by district. 

K. Family, Sonlighters from Vero Beach, FLK. Family, Sonlighters from Vero Beach, FL
K. Family, Sonlighters from Vero Beach, FL

Requirements for Homeschooling in Florida

Florida homeschooling statues outline three ways to homeschool in the state:

  1. Under the homeschool statute (the most common method).
  2. Via an umbrella school (a private school that provides support to you while you school your children at home).
  3. Through the teaching of a private (certified) tutor.

This guide will primarily focus on the first type of homeschooler, but occasionally will reference the other two methods. 

The rules for homeschooling in Florida are clear and allow for a large measure of freedom. Homeschooling is totally doable in Florida! 

How many days are required for homeschool in Florida?
Do you have to be certified to homeschool in Florida?
Do parents need qualifications to homeschool?
Who is eligible for homeschooling in Florida?
Is unschooling legal in Florida?
Can I homeschool someone else's child in Florida?
The R. Family, Sonlighters from Seminole, FLThe R. Family, Sonlighters from Seminole, FL
The R. Family, Sonlighters from Seminole, FL

What are homeschool requirements in Florida?

Florida homeschooling requirements are minimal:

  1. File a letter of intent to your school district.
  2. Maintain a portfolio (and keep it for at least 2 years).
  3. Evaluate your child annually and submit this evaluation to the school district.

That’s it! Reach out to your local district for assistance and how to submit your required paperwork. The FLDOE lists a homeschool liaison for each district

What proof is required for homeschooling in Florida?

Your portfolio and your annual evaluation are the two key forms of proof or documentation that you’ll need to supply each year. 

Homeschool Portfolio for Florida

Here’s the official Florida definition of a portfolio:

A log of educational activities which is made contemporaneously with the instruction and which designates by title any reading materials used and samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.”

Throughout your school year, keep documentation of what you covered with your child. You don’t need an elaborate filing system or a fancy presentation medium. Keep these things:

  • A list of what curriculum and learning resources you used.
  • A log of field trips, homeschool co-op classes, and other extracurriculars.
  • Student samples of work (either physical or digital copies)—a few from each the beginning of the year, possibly from the middle of the year, and definitely from the end of the school year so that the evaluator can see progress.

Be assured that the portfolio is merely used to demonstrate progress. There is no requirement that your child be on grade level as per Florida standards. If your child has matured from point A to point B, that’s progress! 

Be sure to keep your portfolio for at least two years. Although your school district is not required to look at your portfolio, the superintendent could possibly ask to see it upon a 15-day written notice. This situation is rare but is legally possible.

Annual Evaluation for Florida Homeschoolers

There are five ways to fulfill the requirement of an annual evaluation:

  1. A Florida certified teacher may evaluate the child's progress based on a portfolio review and meeting with the child.
  2. The student may take a nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher.
  3. The student may take the state assessment provided by the school district. 
  4. The student may be evaluated by a credentialed psychologist
  5. The student may be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.

Having a certified teacher go over your child’s portfolio is the most common method of annual evaluation. This is simple, low-key, and affordable. The assessor is simply looking for progress from the beginning of the year to the end. Here’s how one evaluator describes what she looks for during one of these assessments:

Florida law requires evidence of educational progress commensurate with ability. Educational progress could be shown by finishing 2/3 or more of a curriculum (Schools almost never finish theirs so they can't require us to finish ours.), or less if supplemented with a lot of materials or activities outside the main curriculum. Or by earning passing grades in a curriculum that provides grades. Or by showing that the student is working on more advanced materials or has more advanced skills than at the beginning of the year. Or by showing that the student has been regularly learning in a variety of subject areas.

If your child is regularly learning and you've kept records of that learning, passing the evaluation should not be a worry.

FPEA offers a directory of possible evaluators here. Or you can find a teacher friend to do it. Any certified teacher can do the evaluation. 

The K. Family, Sonlighters from Pensacola, FLThe K. Family, Sonlighters from Pensacola, FL
The K. Family, Sonlighters from Pensacola, FL

Do you have to have a curriculum when homeschooling in Florida?

As a homeschooler, you are required to provide educational experiences for your child that develop them intellectually and academically. The statue uses the phrase “sequentially progressive instruction.” But you can choose how you do that. 

FPEA says, “Florida does not require any specific curricula or even specific credits for high school; you are free to select the materials and the courses best suited for your children.”

So the technical answer is no. In Florida you aren’t required to have a curriculum. There’s no question about your curriculum on your letter of intent. The homeschool statutes don’t outline any particular requirements in terms of subjects, courses, methods, or curriculum. But the state does look for educational progress commensurate with ability in your annual evaluation. 

A curriculum is truly the simplest, most direct way to achieve those goals. Of course, you can branch beyond your curriculum to add supplements, excursions, extracurricular activities, etc. But a curriculum gives you peace of mind that you’re covering the basics. And it also gives you a foundation for anchoring all the extras you’ll want to tack on as you design a robust education for your child. 

Sonlight makes choosing, and customizing, your curriculum easy with flexible All-Subjects Packages. Watch these videos for an introduction, and then reach out to an Advisor for personalized help with designing your ideal program. (Their services are totally free.)

You don’t need any teaching experience or even a college degree to homeschool successfully with Sonlight. It’s laid out for you with timesaving tools that make teaching truly open-and-go. And, best of all, Sonlight uses a literature-based approach that is incredibly enjoyable!

Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Florida?

In short, no, homeschoolers do not have to take standardized tests in Florida. However, you may opt for a standardized test as your method for annual evaluation.

If you do choose a standardized test as your evaluation method, the school district is required to provide the state assessment to you. But you can also opt for another nationally norm-referenced test (and pay for it yourself). See the complete list of approved assessments here

(If you’re homeschooling under an umbrella school, that private school may have requirements related to standardized testing. Inquire of the school to find out.)

The S. Family, Sonlighters from Jacksonville, FLThe S. Family, Sonlighters from Jacksonville, FL
The S. Family, Sonlighters from Jacksonville, FL

Getting Starting & Timing

Now that you know how homeschooling works in Florida, let’s drill down to the specifics—exactly how to get started, what you’ll need, when to start, and how long to homeschool. 

At what age is school mandatory in Florida?

Compulsory school attendance is required for students ages 6-16. To be more specific, if a child will be 6 by Feb. 1 of any school year, the child must attend school (or be homeschooled) for that entire school year.

Can you skip kindergarten in Florida?

In Florida, kindergarten is optional for both public schoolers and for homeschoolers. So, yes, you can skip kindergarten. 

But be aware of a big caveat. If your child skips kindergarten and attends public school for first grade at age 6, the district may place your child in a kindergarten class even if you completed an at-home kindergarten program. Reach out to your district for specific policies. 

To homeschool before first grade, choose from these three early years programs from Sonlight:

  1. product-img
    Pre-Kindergarten Package
  2. product-img
    Intro to the World: Cultures