Homeschooling as an education alternative

The students of Fox Creek School use the forest as their classroom. (Photos by Cheri Brubaker)

LINCOLN COUNTY — “Homeschooling” is a loose term to describe students who are schooled at home, though some homeschoolers spend time in schools. Others receive a public school education online from home. Unschoolers eschew teaching in general, allowing the students to direct their own learning.

There are as many variations of homeschooling as there are reasons that families choose taking responsibility for educating their children. Roy Wood began homeschooling his two children in response to the Thurston High School shooting on May 21, 1998. The Woods used real world experiences like opening a bookstore and running a coffee shop to educate their children, now grown.

“One now works for the State of Oregon, and the other owns her own business in Junction City,” said Wood. “That’s not bad when you find out that neither my wife or myself completed high school.”

Parents must file a Notice of Intent (NOI) to homeschool form at their local Education Service District, and students must test at the end of grades 3, 5, 8 and 10. Lincoln Benton Linn Education Service District (LBLESD) requests all test results.

Angie Wright homeschooled her two boys because of the freedom it provided her family. “They could learn whatever they wanted to learn,” she said.

“I love the common core,” she continued, the standard used to measure educational progress from one grade to the next. “I think there’s a big lack of information about homeschoolers. We are always doing more than the public school.”

Jill Taglia, a certified teacher, is homeschooling her own children, ages 5 and 10, as well as six additional local children. She never envisioned herself a homeschooling parent.

Taglia’s family returned to the Waldport area last spring, enrolling her children in school at the time Crestview Heights School was experiencing air quality issues. What worked best for Taglia at the time was to finish the school year at home.

Six additional children joined her son and daughter for reading, math and outdoor education for the remainder of last school year.

“What I noticed last spring was how connected that group of eight became in just six weeks,” said Taglia. “I decided then that I’d take the leap to do this. The small group, the students working at their own level, was so beneficial.”

Fox Creek School now enrolls eight students. While Taglia feels strongly that education should be free, she has set tuition to be in line with local day care providers. Located at the end of a gravel road, the forest is often the children’s classroom.

“I’m steeped in public education,” said Taglia, who, like Wright, relies on the common core to be sure that her students meet those standards. Echoing Wright, she spoke of the freedom to take time where needed and to give students an opportunity to exceed the minimum standards and follow their interests.

Dr. Lindsay Kern wants to remove the stigma that homeschoolers are people on the fringe. “I’m really passionate about homeschooling because it gives children the opportunity to progress at their own pace,” she said. Kern creates the curriculum. Her husband, Jeffrey, formerly a software engineer, now spends his days educating their children.

The Kern children’s pace is accelerated by most standards. Four-year-old Arden is reading chapter books. Mason, 9, scored 99 percent in all categories in third grade testing. Blaise, 13, took the SAT last year and scored 82 percent nationally for juniors and seniors. Mangus, 1, learns along with his siblings.

According to Sam Rounsavell, LBLESD Home School Reporter, there are currently 282 students enrolled as homeschool students in Lincoln County.

“Oregon attendance law requires all children between the ages of 6 and 18 years to regularly attend school full-time,” said Rounsavell.

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