How do I keep it all straight and how do I know if I’m doing it right?
Well, the first thing is lots of prayer. Seriously. Once you’ve asked God for His help, then you need to ask the people you know for their help. Do your research and don’t be afraid to gather information from many people and many resources. There are many myths out there related to homeschooling and it’s easy to get confused. Here are some basic things you should know.
- Requirements vary by state. Be sure to research the requirements for your own state.
- Requirements for those who are registered through an umbrella or private school are different than for those who are registered with their county as a homeschooler.
- Requirements change ANNUALLY. Keep up-to-date on changes. Sometimes, your student will be required to meet the most current requirements and other times the requirements are based on their year of graduation.
- High school diploma requirements may be different from college entrance requirements which may be different from scholarship and grant requirements.
High school diploma requirements are set by the person or school who issues a student’s diploma. If you are not homeschooling in Florida, then please consult the law in your state.
- In Florida, if you are registered with an umbrella or private school that awards a high school diploma, then you must meet their requirements.
- In Florida, if you are registered with an umbrella or private school that DOES NOT issue a high school diploma, then you will want to consult with them but you may be responsible to set your own requirements.
- In Florida, if you are registered with the county as a homeschooler in the state of Florida, then you are the one issuing your child a high school diploma and it is up to you to determine what the requirements of that diploma will be. That means if you want to give your child a diploma for four years of basket weaving, you can, BUT don’t! You are not preparing your child for what life may bring or allowing them to be competitive with those applying alongside of them for college admission or employment.
That brings me to my next point. Personally, I believe all students, to the best of their ability, should meet the requirements for entering college EVEN IF they have no plans to attend college. I am SURE there are exceptions to this, but it breaks my heart to hear Moms say their children are “not college material” when it’s not always the truth. You don’t know what a little time and maturity will bring. Give your child the tools he or she needs to have choices in the future, choices in education and choices in vocation.
College entrance requirements differ from college to college. Your best bet is to research the colleges your child is most likely to attend. Most colleges have similar guidelines such as 4 English, 3-4 Math, 3 Science, 3 History (American, World, Government, Economics), and 2 consecutive years of Foreign Language. They are most likely to also be looking for some classes such as Fine Arts and Physical Education. Check each college’s website for details. You may also want to talk with an admissions counselor at each college who is familiar with admissions for homeschoolers. Also, if it is of interest, ask about the requirements for their honors programs.
Bright Futures (Florida scholarship based on academics) requirements
- If you are with an umbrella or private school covering, then you will most likely need to meet the Bright Futures requirements for a private school. MAKE SURE your umbrella school is eligible for Bright Futures. If they say they are, I would contact the Florida Department of Education (1-888-827-2004) to confirm.
- If you are registered with the county as a homeschooler, then Bright Futures will not ask you for a transcript. Parents and students get confused when they read on the Bright Futures page that “A parent-generated transcript will not be accepted for Bright Futures evaluation.” That doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck, it just means that they will not use a transcript to determine your child’s eligibility for Bright Futures. They will want to see an ACT or SAT score and your child’s community service hours. At the writing of this post, there were two possible scholarship awards, Academic and Medallion. Each requires a different SAT/ACT score, a different amount of community service hours, and awards a different amount of money. See the website for details.
- You need to either be registered with your county for your student’s junior and senior years OR under a private school covering which will issue your child a diploma. According to Florida law, “In lieu of the diploma, all home-educated students must be registered with the district where they reside for grades 11 and 12.” I have heard of exceptions to this, but in most cases this is the rule.
- For more details on Bright Futures, go to the Florida Department of Education Bright Futures website.
How do I find all this stuff out?
The Internet is amazing and has a wealth of information but not everything on the Internet is true! Shocking, isn’t it? To get good information you need to ask questions, read books and homeschool magazines, ask more questions, attend workshops, read blogs (like this one!), ask even more questions, and listen. Be a member of an active local homeschool group and also your state homeschool organization. These are groups that will help you get the information you need. In Florida, the state organization is FPEA (Florida Parent Educators Association). You may also want to strongly consider membership in HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). Not only will they help you but you are also supporting the great work they do in defending homeschooling across the nation. Also seek out people who are active in knowing the homeschool law for your state. In Florida, Brenda Dickinson of HEF (Home Education Foundation) is our voice at the state capitol.
As a final wrap up, I’d like to give you a place to start or to continue your research. I have a transcript form you can use for your children on my homeschool forms page.
Cheryl Bastian has compiled a list of links which take parents to the home education requirements for their college or university. Since these requirements are often difficult to find, you may find this list of College Admission Requirements for Home Educated Applicants helpful.
She also has a MARVELOUS book for Floridians who are homeschooling through high school. I highly encourage families to own Celebrate High School.