In South Florida homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular. Parents often choose to home educate their children to give them a more biblically-based education, provide an expedited or slowed down academic pace or allow the child to study more specific interests. Tracy Pons, South Florida’s district 4 representative for the Florida Parent Educator Association (FPEA), said, “Some of the main reasons to home educate are because God’s holy word tells us to educate our children. They are our most important jobs, and generally, children are much more successful when educated at home.” According to Pons, another reason may be to avoid Common Core Standards, which tend to result in “teaching to the tests” with “little positive results for our students.”
Future of homeschooling
“Homeschooling is changing as we speak,” said Pons. “There are so many parents taking their children out of public schools and trying computer-based curriculums with virtual teachers. There are new ideas popping up all the time.”
Whether it be for educational or moral reasons, the number of Florida homeschoolers is at an all-time high and climbing. According to the Florida Department of Education, the number of homeschoolers in South Florida last academic year was 84,000, a large increase from the 69,000 counted in 2011. Their annual survey shows a steady rate of growth with no sign of slowing down.
“There are so many fun and unique ways to teach your children and get fabulously impressive results! We use Field trips, car schooling, Christian classical, Charlotte Mason style, and unschooling,” said Pons.
-Car schooling- Car schooling is what homeschool families find themselves doing as their schedule fills up. Car schooling can include audio books or mom teaching the kids as they wait on another kid to get out of activities. Car schooling is also helpful for families who really like to travel.
-Christian Classical- classical Christian education is one that utilizes the Bible as a main source of knowledge and places emphasis on grammar, logic and rhetoric.
-Charlotte Mason style- this form is built around the ideology that parents must educate their children as people not just their minds, “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
Unschooling- unschooling is when children are allowed to learn through pursuing their interests and doing regular things such as playing, traveling, working, talking with mentors, etc.
According to Chairman of the FPEA Board, Suzanne Nunn, “The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that every family is unique and approaches education in so many exciting and creative ways. I think that families are certainly experiencing much freedom as they choose to learn through a variety of ways. Many families work together in co-ops with other homeschooling families, some families take learning outside or on the road. And there are so many amazing and unique curriculums being developed for homeschool students, that the options are endless. I don’t know that I would say it has changed so much because I believe that the ingenuity and creativity of homeschooling has been there all along….I think that what we see now is that the people who figured it out ahead of us have created curriculums and opportunities to share what they are doing with one another. And as the new generations of homeschoolers grow, it just expands our options.” The best way to explore the numerous methods is by attending the FPEA Convention May 26-28.
For over 30 years FPEA has been hosting a homeschool convention in Orlando that assists over 15,000 people every year in their homeschool journey. The convention is a place where interested families can learn more about homeschooling, experienced homeschoolers find fun new resources and experienced speakers provide lectures about different aspects of homeschooling. The convention also provides a large graduation ceremony for homeschoolers all throughout South Florida. This gives homeschoolers the opportunity to experience graduating in the traditional sense. The convention provides an abundance of curriculum options. To decide which works best for you and your family you need to consider different things like what your main emphasis is, whether its character, traditional schooling, hands-on actives or a biblical worldview, and base your teaching style around that. The convention also helps attendees conquer the intimidating task of homeschooling high school aged students by providing information about co-ops, internships, dual enrollment and online school.
Pons said, “The FPEA Convention is a fabulous place for new and veteran homeschoolers, and even parents and grandparents of children in regular schools to learn how to educate their children. It is easier than you may think. Our theme this year is Shine Bright. It is uplifting, educational, fulfilling and really amazing! We have vendors, vendor workshops, lectures, a children’s program, a teen program, a high school graduation each year, and so, so much more. Everyone is invited.”
To learn more about the convention or about homeschooling in general, visit fpea.com.
Gabriella Morris is a home school student and writer at Good News. She can be reached at [email protected]