When we first withdrew Ben from the public middle school, it was intimidating to have the prospect of his evaluation hanging over our heads. Florida statutes require the homeschooling parent to maintain a portfolio that contains two parts: a daily log or record of activities and lessons, and sample work showing evidence of adequate progress during the year.
Ben had such a negative experience in the public school that we knew it would not be successful for him to enroll in virtual school right away . He needed time away from the school environment to decompress and feel safe. We were uncertain as to how homeschooling would develop-if he would thrive or if it would be a struggle every day.
We based his curriculum on what he would have learned in the public schools, in case we made the decision that he would return to public school in the fall. We purchased the same textbooks that he was using for Geography and Science (approximately $125 for both), and pulled lessons off the internet based on Florida State Standards, found here.
As May approached, we made the decision to enroll Ben in virtual school for seventh grade, based on the concept that it would better prepare him for entry into high school. Homeschooling families have one year to complete an evaluation from the date on the letter they receive from the county that states they are homeschooling, but we wanted his evaluation to coincide with the end of the school year, so we scheduled it for June.
We met with a licensed teacher at the Tavares Public Library, who reviewed his portfolio and chatted with him. It was a very relaxed environment and we discovered it provided a nice way to give closure to the school year.
We did have a chance to talk with her about virtual school, and now we’re thinking perhaps it’s not the best way to go with Ben. We have approximately one month to think about it, before we need to confirm his enrollment for the fall, but we’re thinking it may be a better option for Ben to continue homeschooling with our own curriculum.
Looking back, we don’t regret the decision to enroll him in public school. If he didn’t have the experience, he would have wondered what he was missing out on, and to be honest, we as parents would not have believed how the school system works (or fails to work in this case). It would have been an easy choice to keep him in the school system, because frankly, homeschooling is an intensive daily process and a huge time commitment. However, we feel we made the right choice; Ben has really blossomed over the past five months, and we believe he has learned more at home than he ever would have in the public school.
June 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM
Have you ever thought of unschooling? You can do it under an umbrella school in the state of Florida and there are no evaluations. All you have to do is turn in attendance. Private umbrella schools are exempt from all mandatory testing. Also this is a great resource http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/
June 12, 2012 at 8:34 PM
Wow, Mark and Jen. Another major decision to make within the next month. I know it will be tough but you will do what is best for Ben, as always. It saddens me you put so much into preparing for the virtual school but I think it’s great you went and had the evaluation and got some feedback and ideas. I know this blog post is about Ben, but I am also thinking of Catie as she prepares for school in the fall and hope she is looking foward to it after her summer break. Please keep us posted on what you decide.