In the fall, (Lake Oswego School) Superintendent Bill Korach sent a questionnaire to parents of home-schoolers in the Lake Oswego School District hoping to identify reasons families choose home education in this district. The district would like to lure back some of these families in an effort to deal with the issue of declining enrollment.

The reasons my husband and I choose to home-school our third grade daughter do not fit neatly in boxes on a questionnaire, but are important perspectives for Dr. Korach to consider. The good people of this community are justified in their pride of the academics in Lake Oswego, and I sense many citizens are confused by any decision not to take advantage of educational opportunities here.

Perhaps I should first dispel the myth that all home-schooling families reject the brick and mortar experience. Along with many families in the district, we have a combination of home-schooled and public schooled children. My son attends Waluga Junior High, and is thriving in that environment.

For a variety of reasons, my daughter's academic and social needs are, at this point, best served from home. While she was functioning in public school, she was not working to her potential. The quality of work she produces from home is superior in every subject and the learning pace is accelerated. We are able to breeze through units where only a review is necessary and take our time on units that are challenging to her. Like most home-schoolers, she tested very high on the government-mandated TESA exam that home learners are required to take. Most home-schooled children exceed benchmarks in all subjects, confirming that home-schooling is effective.

Many people picture a lonely child toiling over textbooks at a kitchen table, but home-schooling is a misnomer. The practice provides so much opportunity for exploration and for real-world learning through visits to museums, zoo, and cultural events. Because the curriculum is individual, unique interests can be used as a learning tool.

The question I am asked most concerns socialization. The home-schooling social experience is a different type of socialization. Home-schooler's interaction with peers occurs often in extracurricular activities with smaller groups of children who share an interest. Friendships span a broad age range. The negative social experiences of bullying and intimidation that the district works hard at controlling are not an issue for home-schoolers. I am not implying that socialization at brick and mortar schools is harmful, only suggesting that there are other ways for children to become socialized and that the experiences outside of public school are valid and healthy.

One of the biggest benefits of home education is the opportunity to spend more time learning and developing a student's particular talent or skill. Home-schoolers in this district are doing some amazing things. I would like to see the Education section of the Review highlight these accomplishments as effectively as it does public school accolades.

I understand the district's plight. Enrollment in the district is declining, and the home-schooling movement is gaining momentum. But there is not a carrot that you could dangle in front of me that would entice me to enroll my child in Lake Oswego schools, as long as I believe she is best educated at home. This is not because I think negatively of the institutions, but because I have carefully considered the particular needs of my child as an individual, and find home-schooling to be the most effective way to meet her unique needs.

Amy Haroldson is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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