We've been fortunate to have experienced mostly positive responses from folks we've met, when they realize we are homeschoolers. Some have expressed surprise or amazement, while others have seemed respectful, even awed. Then there are those who just appreciate it, and are encouraging. Public school teachers, both current and retired often fall in the last group, as well as Librarians. We've even had Public School Teachers comment that if they had school age children they would never send them to public school, opting to teach them at home instead.
We've had people run to meet us at the beach, saying they could tell at a distance, by the way our children were acting that we were homeschoolers. Those are some of the more fun interactions, as well as those who immediately take it on themselves to perform a verbal mini test on our children. That bothered me in the beginning, but then I began to appreciate the reactions when my children passed those "tests" with flying colors,then proceeded to explain related factors that were way beyond the level they were being quizzed on, leaving the questioners shaking their heads in amazement.
Some of the comments we receive are disturbing, even in their positive tone towards us. Those who say they "could never do that!", then proceed to explain how their children are beyond their control, or how they could never get their children to sit down and listen to them, how they wouldn't be able to keep their children from deciding to go outside and play rather than doing their schoolwork.
The comments I find most disturbing though are those that are made right in front of these people's children. One father actually told us how much he looked forward to sending his children off to school so he wouldn't have to deal with them for the day. That just made me sad.
I find it interesting to note that the few truly negative comments we've received have been from those folks who feel they have no control over their own children, or those like the father mentioned above. Then there are those we've received from the children of those parents. One notable in that group would be the children of parents who were amazed at our children's knowledge in a particular subject, the father commenting that he'd had to go to college to learn what our then 8 and 9 yr. olds knew. It's instances such as these that make me wonder if jealousy may play a large part in those children's attitudes.
Although it can be challenging at times, we enjoy our homeschool experiences. We appreciate the freedom to work individually with each of our children, making the most of their interests and skills, working to increase their skills in those subjects they may struggle in. We also make the most of the opportunities to teach our children (and learn from them!) in a manner which works the best for them.
We have the utmost respect for Public School Teachers! I can't imagine trying to teach to a whole classroom full of students from so many different backgrounds, and to somehow manage to get across to the majority of those students, in spite of their varying personal optimum styles of learning. How frustrating it must be for those educators to be bound by government regulations to "teach to the test". Where's the room for creativity, and personal growth for those children who don't quite fit the mold? There are those who are being held back from their potential by grade level, then there are those who need a little extra help, or just a different style of teaching, that will be left behind, or merely pushed on to the next grade level with their peers, never quite able to grasp the concepts. Obviously, with classrooms consisting of dozens of children there needs to be some way of measuring success. After all, it would be difficult at best for a teacher to be able to evaluate each student on performance outside of tests.
This is but one area that homeschoolers have a great advantage. Not only do we know our children better than anyone, but we have a much smaller teacher/student ratio. We are able to evaluate our children on a more personal, and I believe more effective, level than formal testing. This is one reason I would like to see Oregon take the long over due step of creating a more homeschool friendly environment for those of us who have chosen to educate our children at home.
Homeschoolers have proven themselves in Oregon (and across our nation!). We deserve to have more freedom with our children's education. We should not be forced to "teach to the test". Mandatory testing, as well as mandatory reporting of intent to homeschool creates an unnecessary expense, both for individual homeschoolers, and for tax payers. Rather, we should be given the option to test our children ourselves, in our own way, including the option to have them tested by the general education standards, but without government oversight. Our children are not all cut from the same cookie cutter. That's one reason we choose to teach them at home. We've been teaching them from the time they were born. We know their unique learning styles better than anyone. We have the time, the patience, and the desire to rise up, meet, and conquer any challenges those learning styles may present. What we need to complete the equation is the freedom to pursue the tools available for those learning styles, without fear of repercussions from our state government. Give us the freedom to teach our children in a manner which we know is the very best for them!