Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Encouragement for homeschoolers from a Public School teacher

Certified teacher joins home-school world
Amy Travis

In 2006, I took the leap from public school teacher to home-school mom for my kindergarten daughter. I did what most home-school mothers do and joined a home-school group for support. To be honest, I thought I would be lending most of the support. I had the elementary education degree and many successful years of teaching under my belt. They should be so lucky to have me in the group.

Ego check! They didn’t need my advice on materials. There is a whole world of home-school materials that is every bit as good as public school curriculum. At first I found my refuge in the small overlap of curriculums used both by home-schoolers and the public school systems. I was overwhelmed by all the information, materials, activities and co-ops that these families were using.

As I made my way into this world, I was amazed at all the new options and ideas I had never seen or heard of as a public school teacher. These parents had a right to snub me and my ego. They may not have had an elementary education degree or even stepped a foot in a classroom, but these parents had nothing to learn from me, and I had much to learn from them.

Four years later, when I’m in home-school circles I don’t even mention I was once a teacher in the public schools. It means nothing in the home-school world, and from what I have witnessed, it shouldn’t. My home-school teaching (which now includes my son as well as my daughter) has taken place in the states of Arizona and Washington, where I have met hundreds of home-school families. I can’t recall a single family from either of these states that is doing a disservice to their children or their state.

Let’s take a look at what regulations are doing for public school teachers. They are overwhelmed with all the requirements and push for students to do well on standardized tests. I still keep in touch with old teacher friends. Many feel as if their days are filled with teaching the one almighty test. I can quote some as saying, “Teaching isn’t even fun anymore.”

How about instead of fighting for more regulations on home-school parents, we fight for fewer regulations on public school teachers? I had some great teachers 30 years ago who did not face the same government regulations. I’m not saying teachers shouldn’t be held to a high standard – just maybe not one, single standard: the test.

Do we really want to put these same crazy regulations on home-school families? These parents are enjoying what they do and not getting one government cent to do it.

There is a wealth of information that proves the benefits of home schooling. More government involvement isn’t going to solve the problem of some family in New Haven who is abusing the system for some reason. It is only going to hurt those good families that are doing what they should. As with anything, someone is always going to abuse the system, but all should not be punished for the few.

Sorry I can’t provide some dirt on the home-school community. Funny, they are just doing a great job – all without regulations.

I understand that not all home-school parents are great teachers, as not all public school teachers are top-notch. I assume that not all teachers in the public schools feel the pressure of standardized testing, but I can’t find one who doesn’t. I sure hope they are out there.

I received my teaching degree from Indiana University in Fort Wayne and continue to renew my certificate. I currently live in Arizona and stay connected with family living in Fort Wayne.

The above material comes not from researched evidence, but from the truth I have seen and from the heart.

Amy Travis is a former Fort Wayne resident and IPFW graduate who currently lives in Arizona. She is a former public school teacher home-schooling her two children. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.