Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Mahatma Ghandi

Welcome to LIFE of Florida!

Our secular and inclusive Florida-wide Informal Education support group acts as a resource center and clearinghouse for homeschoolers, informal learners and alternative educators interested in enriching their learning environments and maximizing their learning opportunities, as well as an advocacy center for Curiosity Driven Learning.

There is no cost to be part of LIFE of Florida -- just join in at our email discussion and announcement list, Florida LIFE, where you can download your membership card -- good for educational discounts throughout FL -- and stay informed and updated on events, issues and resources, and connect with other informal learners throughout the state.

If you're just getting started in homeschooling, be sure to check out our LIFE of Florida Quick Links, our list of Useful Docs, and our enormous collection of resources in the side columns, and visit our Inclusive Homeschool Support Groups page to find a group near you.

If you'd like your regional inclusive support group to be networked with LIFE of Florida, drop us a line with a group description, contact and other relevant information and we'll add you, free of charge, to our directory. All your group members will be automatically considered members of LIFE of Florida, and are entitled to membership cards and all the benefits we offer. Virtual school families are also welcome to enjoy our resources, support and camaraderie.

We're all inclusive and free of charge, and we're here for you!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

LIFE Fest 2008 Update - Free group camping & more!

Learning is for Everyone has secured *free* group camping for up to 90 people at the Ft. Desoto group camping site near the entrance to the park for LIFE Fest 2008, our annual Celebration of Learning conference. So if you're up for a primitive camping experience (tents only, limited amenities), we have the site from Sept. 19, starting at noon, and through Sept. 21st. Please RSVP to info@learningis4everyone by August 20th with the number in your party if you plan to take advantage of this opportunity.

You can also reserve sites with water and electrical hook up, suitable for pop-ups and vans, as well as tents, for $32 -$40 a night, online at the Ft. Desoto website:
http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/05_Ft_Desoto.htm

And if you're really into air conditioning and bathrooms, the Eckerd College Lodge is offering lovely rooms right next door to the Conference Center for just $65/night. Contact Eckerd directly by phone 1.800.456.9009, ext.7000. or reserve online by August 1:

http://www.eckerd.edu/confcenter/lodge/index.php

Mention you’ll be attending LIFE Fest 2008.

Admission to LIFE Fest 2008 is just $10 per family at the door, or $8 prepaid through Network for Good:


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Vendor and LIFE Fest Bazaar booths must be reserved by August. (Local homeschool support group booths are free.) Visit Learning is for Everyone for details.

Our current conference line-up includes:

*MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) programs for youth;
*The ever-popular Doug Scull, of Hands On Planet Earth, with his incredible variety of animals and insights;
*Sarah Dees Art for Children activities;
*Tek 4 Tykes computer learning activities for kids;
*Language Playhouse language immersion workshop and activities;
*Demonstrations and information about FIRST robotics;
*Round table discussions on running support groups, organizing cooperatives, getting ready for college and boosting homeschool self-esteem;
*Terrific doorprizes from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Barnes & Noble, and vendors

And more!

So make plans to join us on September 20th in St. Petersburg for a great day of fun, learning and camarderie. See you at LIFE Fest 2008!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

FDOE changes in Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice

Cathy Russell, the Program Specialist acting as the home education contact in the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, is no longer in that position. She passed along that yesterday was her last day in the office. No replacement has been named yet. She replaced long time home ed liaison Mary Lou Carothers a couple of years ago. We'll pass along additional information about changes or replacements as they become available.

We appreciate Ms. Russell's professionalism and attentiveness while she was at the FDOE and wish her well in her endeavors.

LIFE of Florida

Monday, June 16, 2008

Apple’s Home for Homeschools

From Apple Computer:

Homeschooling has grown significantly over the past several years, with current estimates of up to 2.2 million homeschooled students. At Apple, we have focused on building technology solutions for education for over 25 years. And now, recognizing the growing demand of homeschoolers, we are making the full range of Apple's educational products and solutions available to homeschools.
Eligibility

You qualify as a homeschool if you:
*Provide a complete school curriculum for the children you homeschool

*Meet the homeschool (teaching) requirements set forth by your appropriate Department of Education

If you have further questions regarding verification, call us at 1-800-MY-APPLE.

* Buy a qualifying Mac and iPod with your Apple education discount from June 3, 2008, through September 15, 2008, while supplies last, and be eligible for a rebate up to $299. Terms and conditions apply.

Home School Opportunities Make Education Sound Act of 2008

LA Senator David Vitter recently introduced a bill to amend the US tax code to provide tax deductions for homeschoolers. While at the outset, the bill looks like good news, there are several things to consider.

On the one hand, it would certainly seem to open to the door to legislating homeschooling – what expenses would be covered, which ones wouldn’t, and why? Who decides, and then what else can be decided with respect to how we homeschool.

And despite Vitter’s suggestion that private school families are afforded some kind of “relief” for their educational choices, beyond state vouchers, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of IRS provision along the lines of what he’s asking for homeschoolers provided to private schoolers. If we really want to provide tax relief to people who choose a form of education outside of public schools, it seems all forms of alternative education should be equally included.

On the other hand, there a lot of people would really appreciate and benefit from the type of relief offered in this bill. A thoughtful evaluation of all the pros and cons of this legislation would seem to be in order.

Click through the links for more information on S 3076 and what others are saying about it:

Home School Opportunities Make Education Sound Act of 2008 (Introduced in Senate) S 3076 IS

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a tax deduction for itemizers and nonitemizers for expenses relating to home schooling. The bill was introduced by Senator David Vitter to “provide education-related tax relief to families who home school their children. The Home School Opportunities Make Education Sound Act would allow home school families to take advantage of tax deductions to help alleviate education-related expenses. “

From Vitter's website:

Like those who choose to send their children to private schools, home school families pay an inequitable share of education-related expenses,” said Vitter.

“Even as they pay for expenditures related to home school activities, they fund public schools through their tax dollars. We need to provide them with the same relief offered to private school families, and this bill is intended to do just that, by minimizing the financial burden of these families.”

Vitter’s bill provides for a deduction of $500 per child with an annual limit of $2,000 for expenses related to K-12 homeschooling activities. For families that do not itemize their taxes, the bill would allow for a standardized deduction of $500 per child, not to exceed $2,000 in one year. Families with children who attend private schools are already eligible for education-related tax benefits. “All families should be provided with a full spectrum of choices when it comes to the education of their children,” Vitter said. “We need to take the necessary steps to remove the undue financial burdens that are currently placed on home school families. As individuals empower themselves to take responsibility for the proper education of their children, we should in turn provide them with the appropriate tools to do so. To that end, this legislation is a positive step in that process.

Read others' thoughts on this effort at:

Informed Parent

Home Education Magazine News blog

National Home Education Legal Defense Bulletin #62

Follow the Bill’s progress at GovTrack ( http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-3076 )

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tennessean.com takes Note of Tapestry of Homeschool Survey

From Tennessean.com

...A frequent question fellow home-schoolers like to quiz each other with is: How do you do school? Learning is for Everyone is an organization sponsoring an online survey to help answer that question.

Responses to "How do you do school?" can vary, and for some families may even change from year to year and child to child. Learning is for Everyone (http://www.learningis4everyone.org) is based out of Florida. It was originally conceived as an informal, statewide home-school support group. Over a five-year period, the group evolved into an overall learning resource. The Web site contains lots of information on a variety of educational opportunities available to families.

The Tapestry of Homeschool survey has been compiled as an opportunity for other home
schoolers to communicate to the public and each other their educational methods. The survey may be found at http://s-akxqb-40779.sgizmo.com/. The questions were compiled from input by more than 100 home-schooling families in eight different states.

See entire article at Tennessee.com