Choosing to homeschool is a tough decision and often leaves people feeling at a loss as to what to do as far as education goes. There are a few things that you need to know before you go much further, such as what a Letter of Intent is and how to write one.
The State of Florida requires those with the intent to homeschool their kids to provide their local school district with a Letter of Intent stating so and indicating that they meet state requirements to homeschool their children. Some states require more, Florida only requires the Letter of Intent.
Writing a Letter of Intent can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, but if you know what you’re doing and how to go about putting the information you need down, you’ll be in a much better spot.
What Is a Letter of Intent?
A Letter of Intent is a written document form indicating and notifying the local school districts that a parent intends to keep their kid out of the public school system and have their education provided through alternate means, typically homeschooling or a homeschool accredited program that isn’t connected to private or public education modules or systems.
The Letter of Intent is required by a number of states and can be requested from local school districts to ensure all of the children in the area are getting a proper education module, whether they’re being schooled at home or in a private institution.
When you write a Letter of Intent, you need to clearly state the information the school and state will need to know about you, properly indicating that you’ll be caring for your kids’ education well and covering all the things they’ll need to know to be successful later in life.
The letter is addressed to the principal at the school to which your child would go if they were not being homeschooled. This is to inform the school that your kid will be homeschooled. The letter should include and cover the full legal name, date of birth, and address of the child you are homeschooling. You’ll sign the form, and you will indicate who will be providing your child with an education, be it you or another qualified individual.
You should keep strict records during this time to keep track of what education and how well your kid is doing to help them learn as much as they can and would like to.
How to Write a Letter of Intent
Writing a letter of intent is the hard part. There are some frustrating elements to it, and there’s also the time-consuming bit of it. Some states require one letter per child. Florida requires you to file a letter of intent for each child, though they do not have any vaccination requirements, grade requirements, or teaching rules for your child. You have the freedom to choose whether or not your child is being homeschooled by and with others or through your own curriculum in Florida.
You have the option of using places like HSLDA to write and submit a form for you, or if you choose to craft one on your own, you’ll need to include the following information:
- You’ll first start by addressing the principal of the school district your child would’ve or was enrolled in. You might want to include the legal address of their office to make it more official and formal toned.
- You will include your child’s full legal name
- Their date of birth
- The grade they are in or going into in the year you are beginning homeschooling
- You can include (but are not required to in the state of Florida) who the child is going to be receiving educational instruction from
As a mockup, this is what that information might look like in an easy-to-copy-over format that you can write for yourself and modify as per your needs. Let’s look at an example:
Dear Principal Smith, This is a notice of my intent to enroll my child in homeschool for the 2022-2023 school year and for the foreseeable future. Jane Mary Doe, born on February 25th, 2008, will be entering into the 9th grade. The child will receive her education from her parents at our home address, 1123 State Street, Seattle Washington, 23456. The homeschool education will go into effect on September 1st, 2022. Sincerely, Stacy Doe and John Doe.
Here is the layout for you to fill in:
Dear Principal _______, This is a notice of my intent to enroll my child in homeschool for the ____ (insert year or desired period of time here) school year and for the foreseeable future. __________(child's name), born on _________, will be entering into the ____ grade. The child will receive their home education from ________ (their parents or indicate if this is different using names) at our home address. (Insert address here.) The homeschool education will go into effect on ________. (Insert appropriate date here.) Sincerely, _______(signed by parents or guardians)
Hopefully, this layout helps you as you craft your letter of intent. You might also choose to include your home address and the address of the school in a “to and from” subject area rather than in the actual text of the letter where the homeschooling will take place.
After you have written up your letter of intent, be sure that you’ve gotten it for all of the children who will be using this letter of intent to indicate your intentions to homeschool them as well. It’ll be the same general information as to the child’s date of birth, the grade they are entering into, and any other relevant information. In Florida, you aren’t required to provide anything else, whereas in some states, they might require you to provide evidence of up-to-date immunizations and vaccinations as they would be required for a public school setting.
Options for Homeschooling
There are a few alternatives to doing straight homeschooling, such as blended programs. Registering your child with a private school or otherwise referred to as an “umbrella” school will give you the freedom of a homeschooling experience, the structure of a public school experience, and less of the hassle associated with submitting the Letter of Intent, which is required for homeschooling under the homeschool statute.
You also have the option of homeschooling with a private tutor. This one might be more or less old-fashioned, but what works best for you and your family is what you should do.
A great resource is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They have many, many options and walk through the requirements by state as well as help write Letters of Intent.
Something that you can also do is find a private school, whether that is online or through a different source and work with their programs to get the requirements needed by the state to allow and enable your children to succeed. One such program that my family used to great effect was MyTechHigh. An online private school institution that has you taking required courses, gives options for supplementary classes and the ability to log extracurriculars to get credit for them as well as other amazing opportunities. They have the children or parents of the child submit a learning log each week talking about what they learned throughout the week in each of their subjects to keep up to date with how the child’s education is being benefitted.
This is an extremely open option for scheduling and alternative educational programs. It also comes with the ability and promise of reimbursements for education and school-based purchases such as math textbooks, a laptop for educational purposes, and even some other school resources. Definitely worth checking out if you are overwhelmed with the transition right from public school to a homeschool setting. (MyTechHigh website)
Before you do that, however, you’ll need to know and understand what you need to do to withdraw your child from the public school system and also indicate your intent to homeschool your kid, however that develops for you in the initial withdrawal and if you haven’t decided how that is going to happen yet.
Other State Requirements
The other state requirements, as mentioned before could be different for each state. In Florida, it is relatively easy as it does not have heavy restrictions or requirements to be provided when you are transitioning to a homeschool education module.
In other states, you might be required to provide information on teacher qualifications, the subjects and curriculum being approved by a school board, assessments, immunization and vaccination records, records of other school activities, and so on.
The required age for schooling in Florida is from ages six to sixteen.
On the HSLDA website, they walk you through each of the steps and options you have to homeschool legally and in a safe manner that caters to your kids and your needs best. This page directly indicates what steps you’ll need to do for each of the options. (Source)
Keeping records of your schooling is not a state requirement, but it is a good practice regardless of whether or not it is required. Keeping records of how well your child is doing in subjects will help you to craft and cater to their individual needs as that is one of the major reasons most people homeschool. It will also provide a High School transcript for when your child is ready for the next stages of life if they want to apply to college.
Another non-requirement is an ACT or SAT score. It’s not a requirement technically in some states, but it is immensely important for the next stage of education. Getting a good score will help them to be able to achieve their dreams and get into the college or university they want to get into.
Things You Need to Homeschool Successfully
Homeschooling can be a great challenge for a number of reasons, the legal only being one of those reasons. The hardest part of homeschooling that I’ve personally seen is the lack of a community. Homeschooling wasn’t as big of a thing as it is now, and because of this, sometimes the resources can feel hard to find or get in touch with and access.
Given recent world events, homeschooling has become more popular and more accessible to a number of individuals and families. And this raises a lot of questions for those people who are considering using homeschooling on a more regular basis or even turning to it completely as opposed to returning to a public school education model.
The good news is, that there are so many opportunities and resources readily available now that it’s more or less looking in the right places for the resources to homeschool in a way that gives you the most success. Something you should be aware of and not be too freaked out over is that finding the right combination of classes and teaching methods will be different for each of your children. Working with them to help them learn in the best way is the wisest as it will reflect on how well they learn and how well they do in their chosen activities.
Involving your child in curriculum planning is crucial to get them invested in their own education. Help them get excited to learn about things and be more focused and engaged with the things they are learning about. Another important part you will most certainly want to incorporate is being in it with your kid. Don’t ask them to do anything you aren’t willing to do as well. Being that invested in their education will boost their confidence as well as their respect for you. This includes those harder subjects like math or English that might be required in some states, and are definitely a need for later in life, and helping them by doing it with them will benefit both your relationship with your child so much as well as their academic success.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Get in touch with a local community of homeschoolers and see if they do activities together. Another hard thing you’ll notice is that your child’s social life might suffer if you don’t have a well-built community of like-minded and supportive people. Building that kind of environment for your child and for yourself is crucial to the success of your endeavors and you’ll want to find one of those to help you as a lot of the other parents in those circles might have something to share with you that you can then include and pass on to your child.