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!

Monday, May 25, 2009

LIFE Fest 2009 Planners Drawing Entries & Vendor Discount Deadline Nears

May 31 is the deadline for both our Planners Drawing Entries and a $50 Vendor Discount. Read on for more details:

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The annual LIFE Fest Celebration of Learning will be held Saturday, September 26th at the EckerdConference Center and Lodge at 4200 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg, FL from 10 a.m. – 5p.m.

This is a great location that lends itself well to a family friendly event, with Ft. Desoto camping and beaches just down the road,and St. Pete museums and other attractions nearby. After last year’s event drew over 300 guests, LIFE has reserved both Conference center buildings to better accommodate attendees, vendors, community groups, speakers and workshops.

The event brings together home and alternative learners from across Florida, educators, museum and library program organizers, community education groups, youth groups and clubs, parent support and networking groups, and anyone interested interested in exploring a wide variety of learning and teaching ideas, opportunities and resources.

Cost
As before admission is just a $10 donation per family, $8 prepaid via Network for Good (click and pay at
http://LIFEofFlorida.blogspot.com by August 21 - bring your receipt as your ticket). And, in the spirit of a Green LIFE Fest, carpool discounts of $10 a (safe and legal) carload will be available the day of the event.

Lodging
Lodging is available right on the premises for $65/night. Call the Eckerd College Conference Center and Lodge at (800) 456-9009 to reserve your room before August 1.

Content
There will be a variety of vendors, lots of free materials, great workshops,door prizes and raffles, and a fun and educational childrens area with art and animals, all adding up to a full day that will offer ample opportunities to meet other home and alternative educators from around the state and to learn how to make the most of a home based learning adventure.

Vendors
Vendor booths are $100 if reserved by May 31; $150 after that, through August 21, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served, paid-in-full basis. A sliding scale may be considered for very small, family based businesses. An additional 10% discount is provided to vendors supplying a door prize.

Planners Drawing

As before, we’re inviting our guests to help plan the party by holding a Planners Drawing in which those who send us LIFE Fest ideas by May 31 are automatically entered to win a great prize (last year it was tickets to the Edison-Ford Estates).

So send your ideas now to info@learningis4everyone.org with “LIFE Fest Ideas” in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact info and you'll be automatically entered in a special LIFE Fest Planner award drawing at LIFE Fest 2009. You have to be present to win -- but you're helping plan so why wouldn't you be?!


LIFE Fest Bazaar
This year, the LIFE Fest Bazaar will be held in its own room. Cost is still just $20 for Bazaar space. Vendors can sell books, curricula, toys, clothes, and any other (reasonable) household goods at our LIFE Fest Bazaar. There will also have a give-away table available.

Reserve by August 21
Vendor and LIFE Fest Bazaar booths must be reserved by August 21. More information will be available at Learning is for Everyone throughout the summer.

Program Advertising

Guests at LIFE Fest will receive a printed program describing the day's agenda, workshops and round table discussions, and listing vendors. Costs to advertise in the program range from $25 to $100. Contact Learning is for Everyone for a rate sheet.

Community and Support Groups

As always, free exhibit space will be provided to youth groups and clubs, home school and educational support groups, community education groups like libraries, parks, nature centers, and museums and associations providing free or very low cost learning opportunities.

If you feel your group or service qualifies, and you’d like to be part of LIFE Fest 2009 to provide outreach and information to guests about support and education programs, please send LIFE the name of your group, the services you provide, and the costs of your program(s).

For more information on any LIFE Fest 2009 opportunities, please email info@learningis4everyone.org for full details. Also contact LIFE if you're interested in hosting a presentation, program or workshop, or providing raffle or door prizes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Florida Virtual School Programs Safe

Just a short update -- Florida Virtual School reports that while the school suffered some cut backs like all schools in the state, no programs have been cut, nor will be in the foreseeable future.

Evidently, vigorous outspokenness by supporters helped legislators see what Florida Tax Watch Center (PDF) concluded in 2007 about FLVS (www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/110507FinalReportFLVS.pdf ):

"FLVS students outperformed their statewide counterparts on two independent assessments, both the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and Advanced Placement examinations. They earned higher grades in parallel courses. And this was accomplished with less money than was typically spent for instruction in traditional schools." (Up to $1000 per student less!)

At any rate, we can continue enjoying FLVS as we have before -- at least until the next budget go-rounds next year!