Private Homeschooling – An Inside Secret?

The Florida Department of Education School Choice pages pegs the number of homeschooled students in Florida at 60,000, representing 40,000 individual families. In reality, the real number is much higher. How can this be? Because families who choose to homeschool through a private school never get counted by the DOE. Families who enroll their children in non-traditional private schools — also referred to as ‘600’ or ‘Umbrella’ schools — are not counted as homeschoolers. That’s because, legally, their children are considered private school students, even though in practice, those families are also homeschooling their children.

Why does this matter? The main reason is because there are several benefits to homeschooling through a private school, yet many support groups and web sites never fully present this option. As a result, many families end up registering with the school district without the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of public versus private homeschooling.

Some of the benefits of homeschooling through a private school include:

  • Ability to receive report cards, transcripts and, upon successful completion of high school, a diploma
  • Freedom from interference by or involvement with the school district
  • Oversight by a private school, which is typically run by a homeschooling family
  • Easier to qualify for Bright Futures Scholarships

Some families worry that enrolling with a private school can be expensive, but there are many low-cost schools in Florida. A program that provides legal oversight without other services is often comparably priced to an annual evaluation.

Many aspects of homeschooling through a private school are the same as homeschooling through the school district. In both cases families have control of curriculum and hours and days taught, can take classes on FLVS, and can participate in homeschool support group activities. Students who have an interest in playing sports at their locally zoned school should not enroll with a private school, however, because Florida statutes prevent private school students from participation in Florida High School Athletic Association sports.

Other differences between the two methods are shown below:

Feature Private Public
Register with Superintendent No Yes
Maintain Portfolio No Yes
File Annual Evaluation with School District No Yes
Possible “audit” of records by School District No Yes
Adhere to Florida State Attendance Requirements Yes No
Eligible for Bright Futures Scholarship Yes (easier to qualify) Yes
Participate in Inter-Scholastic Extracurricular Student Activities No Yes
Take Classes at Florida Virtual School Yes Yes

Each private school may set its own requirements regarding curriculum, samples of work, testing, evaluations and so on. The key difference between enrolling in a private school and registering as a home educator is this:

Private school students are overseen by administrators you select. Identifying data about the student and samples of the student’s work are never shared with anyone outside of the private school (other than at your request).

Home education students are overseen by school district employees . Parents must file annual evaluations with the district and may be required to show their record-keeping and samples of the student’s work.

Interested in learning more? Each school has a unique personality, as well as procedures and requirements that are unique to that school. Some factors you may want to take into consideration when selecting a private school with a homeschooling option include:

Courses Taught – Are there certain courses you must teach and, if so, are these courses you believe will enhance your children’s education?
Educational or Religious Philosophy – Is the school’s educational and religious philosophy consistent with yours? Will your educational choices, lifestyle and belief system be tolerated, supported or frowned upon?
Curriculum – Some schools provide or require curricula, while others let you select materials yourself. Do you feel stifled? Left hanging? Just right?
Record keeping – What type of reporting is required from you and on what frequency? Can you visualize yourself having an easy (or difficult) time complying?
Grades/Transcripts/Diploma – If these options matter to you, make sure the school you are considering offers them!

Get started with your search for the right private school by checking out our directory of Private Schools for Homeschoolers.

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