It never fails that my children seem to be put on the spot to demonstrate what they know when we get together with other people who are not homeschooling, didn't homeschool, or know nothing about homeschool or us (but happen to think it is their business to know why my children are traveling across the country in the middle of the month instead of at school where they "belong"). Usually this happens in the form of being asked to read.
Regularly during our travels, Aidan was asked to read for other people.
Now, Aidan is a decent reader. He reads on a very appropriate level for a seven year old. Maybe he would be in a top reading group in a classroom, maybe he wouldn't, but I have no concerns about his reading. As my dear friend Lisa wrote in her Christmas letter this year, we are in a marathon not a sprint. Aidan is not, however, a voracious lover of reading (at least to himself, he loves to listen to others read). By the end of our vacation I had almost let others convince me that this is a problem. Side comments, requests to have Aidan read for them, comparisons, and the list goes on.
They wear on Aidan and they wear on me.
It may be my own insecurities (in fact, I'm certain that it is), but it comes to a point where I feel that support of homeschool is conditional. That others will support us as long they can personally assess that I am teaching enough. Support seem to hinge on my children being normal, average, or preferably above average.
I also noticed that this classification seems to be defined almost exclusively by reading.
This obsession with reading is clearly a reflection of the current culture of public schooling. Reading is everything in the public schools. Children in the primary grades can spend up to three hours or more, just on reading over the course of their day. That doesn't leave much time for anything else. Children in the public schools likely spend more time on reading alone than we spend on all of our subjects. Children in Kindergarten and first grade have home reading practice and worksheets touted as "practice homework". Why? Reading is important and necessary, but why has learning to read taken over as almost the only marker of primary learning?
Because if they can't read, they can't take the test.
As a homeschooling mom I have not only insecurities, but also areas of pride. I am proud to say that my children read at or beyond grade level in 8 official hours of "school" each week. I am proud to say that those 8 hours are devoted to far more than just reading. I am proud of the unique accomplishments, knowledge, and skills that my boys have earned by learning at home. I am proud of the relationships that we have built through homeschooling.
I am proud that the true test isn't pencil/paper, but life.