Friday, March 7, 2014

Helpful Links for Home Schooling in Florida

Contact me if you need a Homeschool Evaluation. I have been a State Certified teacher since 1992 and can evaluate for any student in any county in Florida. My charge is $35 per student or $25 per student for families with 2 or more children.  Virtual/Email/Skype evaluations available at the same cost.

If I can help you please email me, Jennifer Jones at   If you request an evaluation, I will bring the required documents to make your evaluation as stress-free as possible.  

Helpful Links

If you home school in Florida here are links to the yearly evaluation forms for Lake, Dade and Orange County School Board.

Lake County:

Miami Dade County:

Orange County:

More to come...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Portfolio Evaluation Samples Part 1 of 2 by Jennifer Jones

During the past 18 years, I have had the privilege of evaluating for numerous homeschooling families. I have had the joy of seeing so many outstanding portfolio's and homeschool programs in action.  The same questions seem to be asked over and over. In this blog post, I will attempt to answer those questions. I will also include samples of how to put a portfolio together.  Keep in mind there is really no right or wrong way to put your portfolio together.  These are just ideas and suggestions for "how" to do it.

*The advantage of putting together a portfolio, is that all your important papers are organized for each year. If ever audited, you can easily show that you complied with the homeschooling laws. Your documented portfolio will speak louder than words.

# 1 Questions: 

What do I put in the portfolio? How do I do this? What do you look for?

Getting Started...

1. Buy a BIG notebook. I found several for $.99 at a thrift store.
Of course you can always find them at office supply stores.

2.Design a Cover Page. Usually on the outside of the portfolio.

Can include grade level or name, photos...

Everyone's folders look different. Some even opt out of the folders and just gather workbooks for the evaluation.

3. Decide how you will divide the portfolio.  What subjects do you want to showcase first?  I usually start with labeling tabs and dividers. Then I arrange by subject. 

4. Documentation. My first section is always my documentation section.  This will include attendance, schedules, report cards, vision check-ups, doctor's visits, field trip lists or any other ways I chose to document the school year.

 In this section I usually include the Course of Study or curriculum list!

 After I mail the evaluation to the County, I receive
their confirmation letter that my child is ready to proceed to the next grade level. I place the letter in this section of the portfolio when I receive it.

 End of Part I, To be continued...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ready, Set, Go! Evaluations

You've had an amazing learning filled year. It's just a few months and it will be time to close out the year again.  Time to celebrate your learning filled year.


Gather stray papers, take photos of projects, and start sorting through the "learning evidence" you've accumulated over the past 7-8 months.   Make lists of books read, field trips taken and other learning experiences.  (Did you participate in Co-op, clubs, or P.E.?  Did your children cook a meal, learn how to change the oil in the car, film their own YouTube videos for their channel or start their own business?)


Make sure that the papers and experiences you are going to share with the teacher for the evaluation have dates on them.  Unless you keep formal attendance records this is good documentation for keeping track of school days.  Buy an organizer. Organizer meaning--big three ring binder or file system.  If you are working from workbooks, keep the pages in the books, no organizer needed.

Go:  Finish the required work for the year.  Put everything in order by date or by subject.  Call  the certified teacher for the evaluation and schedule your end-of-the-year evaluation.

Applause!!!! Another successful year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Intentional Homeschooling Holidays

Ideas for Intentional Holidays
1. Joy Box. Decorate a shoebox with wrapping paper. Write ideas for a meaningful Christmas on 24 index cards or card stock. (See below for 24 ideas)
2. Focus on the Spiritual meaning of the holiday.
3. Center it around helping others. Volunteer in your community. Take goodies to community workers. (Police or Firefighters etc.)
4. Practice good deeds in your family.

24 ideas for the joy box...
1-Design a manger scene with poster board or Legos. Talk about the Nativity.
2- See a live Christmas Nativity.
3- Make hot cocoa, drive around check out Christmas lights.
4- Go to a Christmas parade.
5- Have a family Dollar Tree gift exchange.
6- Make homemade fudge.
7- Build a fire outside and tell stories of Christmas past.
8- Make s'mores at a campfire.
9- Watch a Christmas movie, eat popcorn, and candy canes.
10- Bake and decorate Christmas cookies together.
11- Paricipate in a Christmas Drama.
12- Watch the movie Elf and decorate the house with snowflakes.
13- Sing Christmas Carols.
14- Host a Christmas party.
15- Visit a bookstore and buy a Christmas book--read together as a family.
16- Visit a nursing home and sing Carols.
17-  Make homemade cards and treats and take them to neighbors.
18- Decorate the Christmas tree.
19-  Make a memory book with photos of Christmas past.
20- Make homemade gifts for family members.
21- String popcorn and hang outside for wildlife.
22- Take an evening walk and pay attention to the stars-- talk about the wisemen.
23- Have a family prayer time and offer God thanks for all the gifts God had given over the past years.
24-Light candles and have a moment of silence.  Sing Silent Night.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hands-On Learning Activities

"Hands-on" (Kinesthetic) learning activities are a great way to teach because...

1-Kids enjoy learning this way.
2-Parents enjoy teaching this way.
3-The WHOLE brain is involved in learning.
4-It's a more authentic way to learn.
5-More relationship oriented.

 2013 Learning Notebook

Field Trip Fun Wonderworks Florida

Wiggly friends.
Hands-on Gardening. It's fun to watch things grow.

Making the Nile River.  Overflow of the river to the "banks" made our seeds grow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

In the BEGINNING! Getting Started with Homeschooling!

13 years ago I made the decision.  I decided to homeschool my daughters.  I had experience as a public school teacher and a private school administrator.  However, I had no prior experience for my homeschool journey I was beginning.  Looking down the road, I wish I had known a few things before beginning.  In this blog post, my goal is to help you, as you start your journey.

Getting Started with Homeschooling 10 Steps:

Step 1:  BE LEGAL. Make sure your child is registered as a homeschooler with the school board of the county you are living in.

Step 2:  TRUST YOURSELF.  You can homeschool! You have made the decision. Commit to the decision you have made.

Step 3:  GET SET UP:  Set up your school room. Decide where you are going to have most of your learning experiences and get ready for it.  Currently we use a large dining room table that doubles as our formal dining room.  When we were starting out, we had a room that was the designated school room.  Don't get "hung up" on having school in one place. School work at home can be finished  outdoors, on the couch or on in another room. One of my favorite homeschooling moments includes reading aloud to my kids outside on a quilt under a tree.  An important organization plan is that you need to have one place for all your supplies. Make sure you have all the tools you need for learning. School books, computer programs, & school supplies that are organized and in one place make life much easier. Also make a daily schedule that fits your family's needs.

Step 4:  START SIMPLE:  The first year for homeschooling is the hardest.  The first year I spent learning my kid's learning styles. I started with a simple curriculum --like Abeka homeschool books, School of Tomorrow PACES, or AOP Life Pacs. This took the pressure off of me to come up with my own creative lessons while also balancing home responsibilities.  Since the first year, I have found curriculum that is more "tailor made" for my daughters.  I don't write the lessons, but I have researched what curriculum best fits their learning styles.

Step 5:  FOCUS ON PRIORITIES:  What are your family goals for the year?  Each year I have a list on a piece of paper that lists our family goals.  Under the family goals I have listed my learning goals for each of my children.  If you write down the goals you want to accomplish,  you will feel more satisfied with the progress you are making with homeschooling as you accomplish your goals.  If you start feeling overwhelmed look back over your goals.  Take it slow. One goal at a time. Remind yourself that you can do it!

                            example:  Jones' Family Goals

Start each day with family prayer and Bible Reading.
Go on 5 family field trips.
Build relationships at the dinner table.
Discuss High's and Low's of each day.

School Goals:
Focus on Reading.  Work with __________________ on reading fluency. Take trips to the Library.
Do at least 5 Science Experiments
Implement a structured P.E. program.  Go to gym and pool for daily exercise.

etc...... and so on....

Step 6: CONNECT WITH OTHERS: No man is an island.
Connect with other homeschooling families or your church community.  You will need emotional and academic support.  Options include Co-ops, umbrella schools, homeschool groups at church, community drama groups or friends who are also homeschooling.

Step 7:  GET RID 'OF PERFECTION: Pursue excellence but not perfection. 
In the beginning you are learning. Take each day as it comes.  Learn from your victories and mistakes.

Step 8:  LEARNING FOR LEARNING'S SAKE:  Focus on a love for learning and independent activities.

Step 9:  TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF:  Happy Mom/Dad--Happy Kids!
This one is hard for those of us who feel like we never have enough hours in a day for ourselves.  Sometimes just an hour out of the house for a coffee or a walk can work wonders. Don't forget to care for yourself while giving out to your family.


Some years have been smooth, while other years have been BUMPY! We've moved during some school years. I had two pregnancies, a miscarriage, family illness, operations, and hospitalizations. Sometimes life hits HARD! Just remember do the best you can.  If you aren't able to stay on course with book work, make sure you still document learning activities. Play educational games, watch educational movies, incorporate learning into the experiences that happen in your life. You can get caught up and survive the "low tide" moments.  Try to have fun. Take time to laugh. We only have one life, and one chance to give our kids the best education they need and deserve. Enjoy the journey.

Here's to a GREAT BEGINNING!!!