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The Ultimate Guide to Florida Homeschooling Review by Jennifer Bowen

Marie-Claire Moreau, Ed. D
PO Box 351632
Palm Coast, FL 32135

Homeschooling is growing every year across the country. The most critical thing to find out is what your state laws say about home education. Home Education laws vary from state to state. In Florida, to register as a homeschooler, you are required to send in a letter of intent to your local school district, keep a portfolio, and have an annual evaluation. Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau has written a one-hundred-eighteen-page book discussing homeschool laws in Florida and answering many questions that new homeschoolers have. Also included in the book are resources such as field trip ideas, unit study ideas, and sample forms. 

Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau has over twenty years of educational experience, including teaching at the collegiate level, teaching in the classroom, as well as homeschooling her own children. She holds a doctorate from Columbia University, multiple master’s degrees in Instruction, Communication, Education, as well as a degree in Sociology.  

The Ultimate Guide to Florida Homeschooling is a must-have book if you are homeschooling in Florida, looking at homeschooling in Florida, or have questions about homeschooling in Florida. This book also makes a great gift if you know someone who is interested in homeschooling in Florida. 

Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau has answered common questions about homeschooling in Florida. Arranged alphabetically, it is a breeze to look up the information you are looking for. When needed, short answers and longer, more detailed answers are provided. Cross-references are also provided where things are discussed elsewhere in the book. Short answers are a two- to three-sentence answer, while the long answer goes further into detail and includes references to the applicable state statutes and websites.  

After reading this book, you will have your answers to what you need to do to start homeschooling in Florida. You will know what the laws are and how to find them. Questions such as “Do I have to buy specific curriculum or teach certain subjects?” and “What about graduation, and will colleges accept my homeschooler?” will be answered. 

The Florida Field Trip Directory is a list of field trips ideas for your family such as zoos, museums, parks, and gardens. They are arranged alphabetically by county and include a website for you to visit for further information. There is also a notation for locations where parent discretion is advised. 

The book includes a list of special days in Florida history and is sorted by month. The list includes:

• State History (Tallahassee becoming state capital and the first state election)

• Major Events (Challenger disaster, Hurricane Katrina, etc.)

• Interesting Facts (When canned rattle snake meat was first sold in Florida)

Website links to selected references are included for additional special days in Florida history. 

In the final fifteen pages before the appendix, there is content for creating a unit study about Florida, including a sample thematic unit on amphibians and reptiles. The sample unit includes links to sample lesson plans, field trip connections, Internet resources, interactive resources, printouts, crafts, recipes, games, and more! Lots of information to create a wonderful study for your children. There are enough links in the sample thematic unit to create at least a semester’s worth of material. Also included in the sample thematic unit are other suggestions of possible thematic units in Florida. At the end of the book is an appendix. The appendix includes a sample Letter of Intent and a sample Letter of Termination. 

I love the layout of the book! Looking up information is a breeze and is written so that anyone who reads it can understand it. I am glad to have the references to the state statutes.  

I agree with Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau that it is good to know the home education statutes and know how to find them. Like she said, it is important because someone may misquote the law or accidentally leave something off. For example, I have even accidentally left something off when talking about the home education statutes. I corrected the error as soon as I saw it and apologized. It can happen to anyone. One thing that wasn’t mentioned that I do recommend is regularly printing the state statutes to have on hand. That way, if something happens where you cannot access it online, you have a printed copy to refer to. 

I am grateful that there are sample letters for readers in the appendix! Most forms, particularly ones provided by school districts, require more information than what is legally required. Homeschool families tend to hand over the information without a second thought. I recommend only turning in what is legally required. The sample Letter of Intent provided in The Ultimate Guide to Florida Homeschooling is a basic form. However, it does include a spot for the parent to include their telephone number. I suggest that the word optional should be notated next to the telephone number to let the parent know that providing it is optional. 

The field trip list is awesome! Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau has recommended some of our family favorites as well as a couple of places that I didn’t know existed! I am going to talk about a few of them below. 

Last month, we had the opportunity to visit the David Browning Railroad Museum located at the Palatka Railroad Depot, in Palatka, Florida. For as many times as my family has been to Palatka, this was our first time visiting the museum. I went with Train Buff (my five-year-old son), Munchkin (my three-year-old daughter), and my mom. The museum has documents, photographs, maps, signs, and other items that have been donated or loaned. Train Buff asked me to buy him one of the trains that were in the display case. He was most interested in the two rooms where the model railroads were. One room has a replica of Palatka, Florida, and surrounding areas from back in the day when rail travel was common. In the other room was a standard setup running multiple tracks and trains. They have a gray elephant that is located somewhere on the display. Make sure you find it on your trip! 

Another must visit in Palatka is the Ravine State Gardens. In the fifty-nine-acre state park, there are two ravines that are up to one hundred twenty feet deep. You can drive through the outer edge of the ravines by car or walk through the ravines on foot. There is an amphitheater, hiking trails, exercise stations, and a playground at the park. It is beautiful in the spring time when everything is in bloom! 

There is another train depot closer to home that I didn’t know about before reading The Ultimate Guide to Florida Homeschooling. Due to their limited hours, we have been unable to visit, so we will be scheduling it for sometime this fall. 

There is a Giraffe Ranch in our state! I had no idea that there was one in Florida let alone close to my me. It looks like a lot of fun! Not an activity to do in the middle of the summer, but definitely one to check out in the fall through spring. There is a one-to-one and a half-hour safari tour where you see various animals such as hippos, antelope, and zebras and you take part in hands-on interactions with the animals. They also offer a camel expedition, Segway tours, llama treks, and the opportunity to feed various animals. 

I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to Florida Homeschooling for your home library! 

-Product review by Jennifer Bowen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2017