Once you begin homeschooling in earnest (and sometimes even before), you’ll feel a bit like the lone survivor on a desert island. That is, unless you can soon find other families to connect with who are also educating at home. Getting to know even one other homeschooler can make all the difference in your first year of schooling at home. If you live rurally, or in an area with few homeschoolers, networking with other families can be difficult. Don’t hesitate to search online or within Facebook for web-based support, though. Often, there is an online support group for larger regional areas so that communication and sharing can take place even when you aren’t able to meet very often in person. If you’re very lucky, however, your local area may even have a homeschool cooperative (also called a co-op), where families join together in collaborative learning.
This page will inform you about the local homeschool groups Florida has to offer. Also, you’ll learn about what homeschool cooperatives are and why you might want to become a part of one of them.
Homeschool Groups in Florida
Florida is a vibrant homeschooling state, so it’s very likely that there is some form of homeschool support group within driving distance to you. If you already know at least one homeschooling family in your area, you may want to ask them about the support options in your community. If you don’t know other homeschoolers yet, though, there are plenty of ways to find them. Certainly, you can start by putting your area or city name and “homeschool support” into a search engine. However, in recent years, many groups seem to have moved the majority of their communications into private Facebook groups, so definitely search there as well.
If there is more than one group to choose from in your area, it’s likely that each one has a specific “focus.” Groups are often based on worldview (faith-based or non-religious homeschool groups) or may be geared to a specific goal such as community service or scouting. Below is a list of some local Florida homeschool support groups. Use this list as a starting point to find a group close to you, and visit A2ZHomeschooling.com for a full list of Florida support groups in your area.
- Broward Parent Support Group
- Gainesville Area Homeschoolers (Facebook)
- Gulf Coast Homeschool Association (Facebook)
- Hernando Homeschoolers Message Board (Facebook)
- Jacksonville Homeschoolers United (Facebook)
- Parents Educating Children
- Parents Educating on the Treasure Coast
- Pensacola L.I.F.E. Homeschool
- Pinellas Home School Help
- Tallahassee Christian Homeschoolers Forum (Facebook)
Florida Homeschool Co-ops Near You
Along with providing resources, networking, and advice for parents, homeschool support groups provide opportunities for students as well. Homeschool cooperatives are common outgrowths of local support groups. Often called “co-ops,” these are structured groups of families who want to share some of the benefits of group learning opportunities. Usually, they are parent-led organizations where parents volunteer to lead organized classes or workshops in areas they feel confident in. This is a great way for students to be exposed not only to subjects they might not have within their home curriculum, but to benefit from the expertise of someone with a particular passion in those subjects.
Not every county in Florida will have an organized cooperative nor even every region. But, if organized learning activities are important to your homeschooling goals, it might be worth driving some distance to participate in the closest one. Because co-ops can go in and out of existence fairly quickly, you might have to do a little digging to locate an option near you. To help your search you can:
- ask other homeschoolers in your region if they are aware of a homeschool co-op
- inquire about co-ops in any local/regional homeschool support groups on Facebook
- query your favorite search engine using terms like “homeschool classes” or “homeschool co-op” along with names of nearby towns and counties
Benefits of Joining a Homeschool Group or Co-op
When you ask long-time homeschoolers what has most influenced their decision to continue with homeschooling, they will often reply with a one-word answer: “support!” Having the opportunity to chat about curriculum choices and schedules with families who are in your same situation is invaluable. Students, too, look forward to hanging out with other young people who understand how cool it is to be able to do math in one’s pajamas! But networking is just one of the benefits of belonging to a local support group. Many of these groups also offer activities that can enrich your homeschool experience such as:
- group field trips
- park days and/or p.e. days
- organized clubs such as geography club, 4H, chess, robotics, etc.
- book and curriculum exchanges
- dedicated email loops or Facebook groups for sharing information
- organized athletic opportunities
- holiday parties
Even if you are only able to participate occasionally, belonging to a homeschool support group or co-op can widen your homeschool experience significantly. It can also help you through the “rough patches” of homeschooling, when a kind, supportive word can mean the difference between pushing through or throwing in the towel!
Additional Resources Related to Homeschooling in Florida
Have other questions about homeschooling in Florida? You may find the following pages helpful.