So, You Want To Homeschool… Now What?

Since I began homeschooling my kids in 2022, I have heard a lot of, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to try,” or, “Oh my gosh, I could never do that, but good for you.” But as I began to grow more confident in my abilities as a homeschool mom and share things with friends and online, I’ve began to receive more questions like “How do I do it?”, “What are my options?”, and “How did you start?”.

READ: Life on Our Terms: Why I Chose to Homeschool

Whether you are still on the fence or are jumping right in, this blog is for those of you who have decided to take the big step from “thinking about it” to “I’m doing this!” It’s a how-to if you will. Here are the main things you’ll want to figure out before getting started on your homeschool journey.

How to Register for Homeschool

First and foremost, you need to let the current school you’re zoned for know about this impending change. While this blog is by no means an official source for all the homeschool laws, I did want to list the three options for homeschool registration — which one you choose will depend on how you notify your school.

Traditional homeschool. This method requires you to write a letter of intent to the school district you are zoned for. This will notify the county so your child(ren) are not marked as absent, since it is required by law they attend public or private school or are homeschooled. You have several methods for keeping the county updated on your progress, all of which require maintaining a portfolio, a.k.a. keeping track of the work you do all school year. You must also have your portfolio reviewed by a qualified individual, usually a teacher, former teacher, or homeschool advisor. You can also take state testing at the end of each school year — this is a requirement if you decide to apply for certain homeschool scholarships that are available like PEP (Personalized Education Program). The are two other options for evaluations mentioned here. If you choose traditional homeschool registration, you will be marked among the total counts for the state of Florida for homeschoolers, which to some people is important.

Umbrella school. You can enroll under a homeschool umbrella school, which is the same steps as if you were joining a private school. For this, you simply need to notify the school your child is currently enrolled in that you’ll be switching them to private school. Sometimes just an email will suffice rather than an official emailed letter, but just check with your school. As far as reporting, you simply report your attendance to the school. Most send quarterly updates, but it depends on the umbrella school. If you choose this method, you are not marked among the total counts for homeschoolers in Florida.

Private tutor. This is a great option for working parents. It requires that you use a certified teacher, maintain a portfolio, and certain attendance requirements exist, as well (180 days per calendar year). If you choose this method, you are counted as a Florida homeschooler.


Homeschool Curriculum

There are so many types of curriculum, and it can be overwhelming. Asking other homeschool friends what they use can even be a lot — it was for me. The best way to figure out the curriculum you’d like to use is by researching them online. Many even offer a few lessons for free so you can try them out first, so definitely take advantage of that. Homeschool has come a long way since COVID especially, and I cannot possibly cover all the different curriculums available in one blog, but here’s a quick rundown of the different types: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessorri, History and Concept, Eclectic (basically a mixture of many types), and unschooling.

Personally, we do Classical through Classical Conversations and love it because Classical Education truly believes that kids learn best through memorization via songs rather than a heavy focus on pen to paper. Classical Conversations covers History, Geography, Math, Science, English, and Latin (because Latin is the basis for many other languages, if and when you choose to learn those). It’s been really fun to see our kids learn so many important things, like the Preamble to the Constitution, States and Capitals, Presidents, and the history of the world from the beginning of the ages to the present. And we love it because we meet together weekly to learn new concepts and then review the other days at home. So the social box is also checked! But all of these curriculums are certainly worth looking into and researching.

I also know several parents who work from home full time and use virtual school, like Duval or St. John’s (also available in Clay and Nassau), in which online educators conduct school virtually with your child like in the COVID days. It is important to note that this type of homeschooling would not involve unenrolling and registering as a homeschooler in the ways mentioned above.


Style of Homeschool

This is arguably the most important part you need to figure out for your homeschool journey, and you may not know the answer yet. The best way, for me, was to just dive in and figure it out as we went. What I mean by that is, don’t delay in learning. Set a schedule for the day that works best for you. When we got started, for a long while we took a big midday break (which included a quick workout for mom and sometimes the kids joined in), but then we shifted to not taking a big break and even eating lunch through our work, taking a break in the early afternoon instead. Maybe it’s too hot in the afternoon, and you want to be inside working then. You’ll find what works for your schedule, and if that changes with the seasons of life, you can easily readjust.

READ: Dear New Homeschool Mama: You Got This

Try to ignore the naysayers, even the ones in your head. Your kids can still get plenty of social time through organized sports, group lessons, or extracurricular classes. You can also find non-educational co-ops that meet up for social time and educational field trips, which is what we did in our first year. You can connect with other homeschool families in social groups on Facebook. There are also drop-off co-ops that usually meet only three days a week, just know they usually dictate which curriculum you will use, and you have to teach it the other days at home. I’ve found the cost to be between $2K–$5K for these types of programs. And most importantly, try to prepare yourself mentally and make sure you schedule yourself breaks from the kids via your spouse, parents, in-laws, a neighbor, babysitter, etc. Or even just making time for self-care each morning or afternoon in the form of quiet time, working out, etc. while the kids do free play or screen time. Don’t overthink it, and remember, you know what’s best for your kids because you know them best. Lean into that and be confident in your ability to choose what is best for them and you.

Remember to keep it simple! Here are three simple tips to make your homeschool journey a little easier.

Meagan Vesta
Midwest-natives Meagan and her husband Matt first moved to Jacksonville in 2011 and have lived all over town from the beaches to St. John's County. They now own a small farm in Nassau County along with their two sons and two rescue dogs. This year they are starting a market garden featuring fresh, locally-grown produce and you can follow along on their journey at @vestafamilyfarms! Meagan has been a full-time working mom, a stay-at-home mom, and now a work-from-home mom for Jax Mom while homeschooling her two boys and helping run the farm. They enjoy watching their sons play little league along with Jumbo Shrimp games and also enjoy fishing and boating in Jax whenever they can!


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