Comparison of Home Education Options

Lots of questions have been raised about the benefits or possible need for an umbrella school as a home education family in Florida. So, I’ve put together this chart that can help: Compare Options

Florida Academy of Excellence has one goal: Empower Parents to Educate Their Children. Thankfully, the state of Florida gives us lots of choices when it comes to educating our children. Unfortunately, having too many choices can become overwhelming. How can we know that we are making the RIGHT choices? Let Florida Academy of Excellence help you; enroll today or email flacademyofexcellence@gmail.com with any questions you may have.

Four Tips for Working Moms who Homeschool

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#1-Choose Your Job Wisely

There are some moms who choose to work outside the home because they absolutely love the benefits of being employed. Most of us, however, work because we must. For whatever the reasons may be, our family depends upon our income in order to make ends meet. Let’s just get passed the question of whether it makes financial sense to work. Those of us who are already established as working moms have already weighed out all the options, and we already know that we do indeed need to work. So, the first tip I can offer to moms who need to work but want to homeschool is to choose a job that will allow you the needed time to balance your homeschool choices with your work choices.

In my case, I am a teacher. For now, I teach at a school that allows me to work four days per week with hours that give me later mornings and later afternoon hours than public schools in my area typically allow. Also, the school gives me a lighter workload than I would have if I were teaching in a public school. Plus, the school is only about 20 minutes away from my home, so that I am able to get home quickly in case of an urgent need in the middle of the day. I know that sometimes we have to take a job that is less than ideal. Do what you need to do, but if the job you are working does not fit well to support a homeschooling lifestyle, make a concerted effort to find a job that will work. If the ideal position does not exist, then consider starting your own business, working as an independent contractor, or consider choosing a different line of work that may fit better for your family’s needs.

#2-Build a Strong Support System

Start with prayer. There is no support system that you can build for yourself that will even come close to the support system that God will build for you. When I say “support system,” I mean that you must know people who will be able to help you when you need help. It’s not wise to depend completely on one person to help you all the time, but having several friends, coworkers, family members, etc. all who are aware of the homeschooling choices you have made and who are supportive of your choices for your family will prove to be invaluable. Besides having the close personal relationships that it will take to help your homeschooling to succeed, you should also have a solid set of resources available. For example, build a strong relationship with your pediatrician. If you do not trust your pediatrician to be available and reliable when you need him or her, then diligently seek one who will support your lifestyle and the choices you are making for your family. If your children are young enough that childcare is a necessity, then be sure that you have a strong, positive, and mutually respectful relationship with the person or people who will care for your children while you are at work. If your children need tutoring or extra help, be sure to make choices that you will be able to live with for an extended period of time. For example, if you can only afford to pay a tutor for a few weeks, and it is likely that your child will need help for a longer period of time than what you can reasonably afford, then try to find online or free resources that could work just as well for a longer period of time.

In our case, one child needed quite a bit of help getting caught up with reading. We could not afford private tutoring, and she needed more help than our private caregiver could help with for reading. We chose to use an online reading remediation and instructional program. The cost was about $15 per month, which is not cheap for someone living on an already tight budget, but it was doable and much less expensive than a private tutor would have charged. One of my other children needed extra help with math, and our district allows homeschoolers to enroll part-time at the local middle and high schools, so we took advantage of this free option and enrolled him in one class, just math, at the middle school we are zoned for. Other people who would be included in the type of support system I’m talking about are those would be able to provide emergency pick-up care if you cannot get to the kids (due to being stuck at work), virtual teachers, private tutors, childcare givers, and back-ups for each of these roles as well.

Establishing the support system can be one of the hardest things you will do, because it means that other people will need to support your choice to homeschool even though you are working. From my experience, this has been one of the hardest parts of homeschooling. Typical homeschool families make me feel like an outsider because I am not staying home with my kids. Typical working moms also make me feel like an outsider because I am not schooling my kids in a more traditional way. So, I guess you could agree that this support system will provide not only logistical help, but it will also provide mental and emotional support for you as the working mom. At times when no one seems to understand your choices, at least these are the people who will empower you to continue with the choices that are right for your family.

#3-Avoid Comparison Syndrome

This tip is really important, because you are making a choice that is not very popular. I am confident that in the next several years, as virtual school options improve, and public schools continue to decline in many ways, a growing number of families will choose homeschooling, even though both parents work. For now, though, our choice is widely unpopular. “We do things differently” must become your mantra. If you compare your homeschooling experience to other families, you will inevitably feel less adequate. I would call this the Pinterest syndrome, because like looking at the picture-perfect images on Pinterest, comparing your own homeschool experience to other people’s, it just will not look the same. Your kids may not have their own little flip-top classroom desks and whiteboard in the in-house classroom where Mom teaches all subjects flawlessly to three kids in three different grade levels, but they will have the independence to know how to conduct research for answers to their questions.

Your homeschool will look different than almost everyone you know. Avoid comparing, because you will very likely begin to feel inadequate, or worse, cause others to feel inadequate in comparison to your system.

#4-Remember the Reasons

This tip really could be applied to many different areas of life, but the truth is that when we cannot remember why we do what we do, then we are likely to stop doing it. There are going to be very difficult days in your homeschooling experience, and if you are not highly intentional about remembering WHY you are homeschooling, you are likely to give up. Over the past two years, I have seen multiple families who have been homeschooling for many years give up. They say that their kids need to be socialized better, that they need better teachers than what Mom can be to them, or they are just too exhausted from homeschooling.

All of these families who have told me that they are finished homeschooling have justified the reasons why they are now choosing public schools, private schools, or charter schools. I listen carefully, and I know that these moms and dads adore and love their children. I know these parents believe they are making the best choice for their children. But I also know these families were convicted several years ago about making the choice to homeschool, and I feel deep down that they are giving up because homeschooling is very difficult. I know it is very difficult for parents who are there full time with their kids, and I know it is very difficult for those of us who have been balancing a work schedule with a school schedule and feeling everyday that we could have done better. But, like anything worth doing, this is going to be a difficult choice.

In my case, I have to remember that with me teaching, every morning would include three drop-off locations before I arrive at work, if my kids went to school, because their age differences place them each at different campuses. I also have to remember that as a college professor, I see very clearly that students who are homeschooled are better prepared for college than their public-schooled counterparts. And, I also have to remember during the difficult days, that God answers our prayers and opens and closes our doors of opportunity. He called our family to this lifestyle, opened the doors to allow it to happen, and whether we continue or whether we stop homeschooling at some point, the path we choose ought to be aligned with the will of God for our family. Changing our course without God’s blessing would be going against His will, so we would not make a change without confirmation that it is the absolute right choice, not simply a choice we make selfishly in search of something easier.

Whatever your reasons for homeschooling may be, be sure to write them down. Make a list, and refer back to your list before you make any drastic changes. Homeschooling is not for everyone. While I do believe we, as parents, are responsible for the educational choices we make for our children, I do not believe that all of us are called to homeschooling. But, some of us truly are called to homeschooling. Changing our minds just because it’s a harder choice than we really care to deal with would be a move in the wrong direction. If you are called to homeschooling, then it will take a great deal of commitment. At some point in time, you may decide to change the course for your family. Just don’t make that choice in a moment of desperation, because wisdom tells us that doing so would only lead to regret later.

For more tips and support to run your homeschool successfully, email flacademyofexcellence@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook Florida Academy of Excellence.

This is What it Looks Like For Us

Every home educating family I know follows a different system. One family has a home-classroom, five children aged 12 to 3, and they all school at the same time in the same room with mom as the primary teacher. Another family has two children and they are a bit more relaxed. Yet another family has a varying number of children, depending upon how many are currently being fostered, and they pretty much unschool. So, sometimes people want to know what it looks like for us, because, after all, my husband and I both work full-time. I am also in graduate school part-time, and we have four children, ages 12, 10, 8 and 2. I do not know any other family personally that home schools while both parents work full time, but we have been doing it for about three and a half years. My children have thrived, both academically and emotionally, so I cannot imagine schooling any other way than we are now. There are days that are more challenging than others, but what endeavor worth doing has ever been easy? Childbirth= difficult; marriage=takes work to make it work; rewards= endless 🙂

Here’s what it looks like for us:

Oldest child, age 12–> goes to work with mom every day; this past year, he took one class at the zoned middle school, and it went well, but we will not be doing that again in the future. One reason he comes to work with mom is that he loves to plow through subjects that he finds interesting, and he learns very quickly. Being in a classroom and needing to wait for the teacher and his peers was frustrating throughout most of the year. All of his other classes are online through Florida Virtual School. We love the help available from teachers who really know their subject areas very well. They are always available to help him. He typically is working on four classes at a time, and he does one subject per day for four days per week, since mom works four days each week. So, for example, he might have Tuesday- English, Wednesday- Biology, Thursday- Personal Finance, and Friday- World History. We set a pace plan at the beginning of the course and then the teachers help keep him accountable. They have been flexible when we have needed it, and they have also pushed him to reach his potential as well. Since mom is a college professor, he is able to use the campus library as his quiet place to work.

Second child, age 10 and third child, age 8–> Both girls go to a friend’s house for child care. Our friend makes sure they follow a schedule of work and play throughout the day, and mom sends the materials needed for schooling. The 8 year-old has benefited very much from the use of Reading Kingdom, an online reading mastery program. The 10 year-old completed all of her required grade level work (through the PACES curriculum) during the first semester of the year, so for the second semester, she asked to design her own study plan, which included lots of reading and creative writing. She also wanted to learn guitar, so she took a guitar class privately and also took the Florida Virtual School guitar class online. She excelled at both, and this was a good move to help her learn to transition. We are planning that she will begin taking more online classes now that she has also completed one well enough to know how to navigate the online environment. For math, she has been using Teaching Textbooks, which provides instant feedback and lessons at a pace that works well for her. The 8 year-old struggles with literacy, so her primary goal has been to improve her reading. She loves art, and so we have used the Draw Write Now program to boost her writing abilities and engage her in the art that she loves. She will begin using Teaching Textbooks for math in the upcoming year. Both girls are in elementary school, and we do not add subject areas for elementary. I believe very strongly that reading, writing, and math are the necessities for elementary school, so we do not add subject areas until middle school.

The baby, our two year old, has learned how to share, and he has been learning to play with other children, as he goes to the same family with his sisters for “school” each day. He plays with the other children, and he learns by the example of the older children, and we are very pleased that he is already taking a strong interest in reading, singing, and sharing. The cost for childcare for the three children has been quite high. The only expense we have that’s more is our mortgage payment each month. Certainly, to be willing to spend what we have been, both my husband and I must be committed to homeschooling. This would never work if we were not on the same page.

Some people have asked whether the cost is really “worth it,”– meaning, wouldn’t it be easier if mom didn’t work outside the home?– Well, we have tried that in the past. Unfortunately, because of the added cost of health insurance, and the need for the extra income, NO- it wouldn’t make more sense for mom to stay home in our case.

I guess, if I were to try to demonstrate a significant lesson to other families by the way we homeschool it would be this: If we can do it, so can you. I am a teacher by trade, but I don’t do any of the academic teaching for my own children. They know that school is important, but they also know that they can and should be learning on their own. I encourage them to research and dive into whatever it is that they love at the moment (Web Design for the oldest, Guitar for the second, Drawing and Painting for the third, and Elmo for the baby)– then they just go and do the thing they love. Ultimately, the children are thriving. They love to learn, and they love life. They don’t wake up each morning dreading going to school or crying over endless piles of homework at the end of the day. I would never tell anyone that homeschooling is the best option for every family. In fact, it definitely is NOT the best option for MOST families. But to anyone who desires to homeschool who may be thinking it is all kinds of impossible, take heart, and know that just because it would be difficult does NOT mean it is impossible.

Looking for a Portfolio Evaluator?

I am a Florida certified teacher, and I am available for annual homeschool evaluations in Pasco County and nearby areas. Contact me at flacademyofexcellence@gmail.com.

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Here’s a bit about myself:

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (2001) and Master of Arts in English Education (2005) from the University of South Florida, and I am currently pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of South Florida. I have been a Florida certified Professional Educator since 2001 in the areas of English and ESOL.

Currently, I teach Freshman Composition courses, as well as British and American Literature. I have published poetry in Meta: An Interdisciplinary Journal and The Effects of Grace: A Christian Anthology. Additionally, I have published scholarly articles and presented at conferences pertaining to the teaching of English at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. I am a strong advocate for parental choice in education, and I enjoy assisting homeschool families in planning curriculum and educational choices for their children and young adult students. I enjoy spending time with my husband, four young children, and I blog at cryingisthefirstsignoflife.wordpress.com, where I mainly write about my passion for education, life as a full-time working, homeschooling mother, and my love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Exhausted? Overwhelmed?– You CAN Do It. Florida Academy of Excellence Can Help.

Are you exhausted from trying to figure out the best way to homeschool your children?

Are you completely overwhelmed by ALL the information “out there?”

Are you unsure about HOW to home educate your children?

Florida Academy of Excellence wants to help! We are a new umbrella school, registered as a private school in the state of Florida, and our goal is very simple: Empower Parents to Educate Their Children.

Email flacademyofexcellence@gmail.com for more information or to enroll.

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Florida Academy of Excellence Rate Sheet 2016-17 – Sheet1-3

 

 

Philosophy of Education

Florida Academy of Excellence (8623) is a Florida private school registered in Pasco County.

Our goal at Florida Academy of Excellence (FAE) is to empower parents to educate their children. We believe that parents are the best decision makers for their children’s education. Education in your child’s best interest looks different for every family, and often it looks different for every child within every family. FAE desires to help you choose the best methods, curriculum, and mode of teaching and learning for each of your children so that each child will develop a love of learning, a desire to excel, and a determination to succeed in all areas of learning and life.

Authentic learning produces authentic results. For this reason, FAE does not participate in any type of standardized testing. However, you, as the decision maker for your child’s education, may choose to participate in standardized testing outside of FAE as part of your education plan.

We do not have a building; rather, all teaching and learning occurs in the home or in the location of the families’ choice. We do not prescribe a set curriculum, although we can make recommendations based on the families’ goals for their child’s education. Parents can choose to serve as their child’s teacher or they may choose from an endless number of other options, such as: reading, writing, enrolling in virtual school classes, take classes part time or full time, participate in co-ops, occupational therapies, behavioral therapy, equine therapy and education, dance, fine arts, performing arts, sports, travel, religious education, or any other activity that the parents deem educational.

Coming Soon!

Florida Academy of Excellence is a brand new option for home-educating your Florida students. We are a private school, registered with the Florida Department of Education, but YOU, the parent, maintain complete control over your child’s education. We will be enrolling soon, so be sure to get on the list for updates and information by emailing flacademyofexcellence@gmail.com.