PORTLAND, Ore. — We've been hearing from parents nervous about sending kids back to the classroom this fall.
One increasingly popular option is homeschooling.
Earlier in the week people weighed in on a KGW online discussion about school. A number of people asked that we do a story on homeschooling.
So, we reached out to the Oregon Home Education Network. It's been a resource to homeschooling parents for more than 25 years and provides general information about homeschooling, answers questions, as well as connects parents with one another through the OHEN Facebook page.
Rosalyn Newhouse, the Oregon Home Education Network Board President said there has been increasing interest in homeschooling. She said the group’s Facebook page has been inundated with new people in the last month.
“We've had about 250 new members to that page every week recently,” said Newhouse.
Before the pandemic, Newhouse said there were maybe 10 to 20 new members a week.
“Some families are saying you know what, homeschooling is something I can control. Let's do that,” Newhouse said.
Here are a few basics if you’re considering homeschool as an option:
First, you have to register as a homeschooler with your local Education Service District within 10 days of withdrawing from school.
Kids will also have standardized tests at grades 3,5,8, and 10. They cover math, reading, and language skills.
In addition, Newhouse said there is no one specific curriculum that parents are required to teach.
“One of the very popular methods for teaching a lot of things at once in an exciting way, is cooking,” said Newhouse.
“If you’re cooking, you’re learning about measurements and ratios. There’s a lot of math in cooking. You go shopping and you learn about economics and budgeting, and advertising and marketing […] You learn about chemistry and physics in cooking.”
She said parents can also customize learning to their child. If their child is interested in astronomy, in a homeschooling model, parents can give more time to learning about the stars. Whereas in a classroom setting, the teacher may have to move onto another subject.
While difficult, Newhouse said it is possible for parents who have full time or demanding jobs to homeschool. She said one thing to consider if you're a working parent, is that there are no specific hours. Each family can make their own schedule.
Newhouse also said there are a number of misconceptions around homeschooling.
“As a homeschooling parent, you don't have to be the only teacher. As a homeschooling parent, what you're responsible for is seeing to it that your child gets an education,” she said.
According to Newhouse, there is plenty of support available. For instance, some families partner with other families to teach their kids. One family might be in charge of teaching math, while the other family may teach English. Other options include using tutors or online resources.
Another concern Newhouse said she hears a lot, is from parents who are worried about college and whether homeschool will put their child at a disadvantage.
“Many, many homeschoolers are in colleges and universities. They do very well,” said Newhouse, who also said concern about college shouldn’t keep parents from choosing to homeschool. She said as early as 8th grade, parents can call a homeschooling representative at a college their child is interested in attending, to ask what the school is looking for.
Newhouse said if you're thinking about homeschooling, this is a good time to see if it'll be a viable option. We're in the middle of summer and there’s still time to experiment before school starts.
The Oregon Department of Education also has insight on homeschooling.