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Homeschooling/unschooling in Portland

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

My husband is researching a job in Portland. We will only move there if he has a good job. We have a good situation and community where we are. The only reason to move is for a change in climate/politics and the fun of a new adventure.


If we do move, finding a homeschooling community, possibly one that leans towards unschooling, would be essential. How easy is that to find in the Portland area? Is one area better than another?


I would love a house on a large lot. I see plenty when I get on craigslist. (I've read about Portland's land use codes, which I think are great, I still want to live in an area with large lots.) However, are there active homeschooling groups in those areas?


The job he is looking at is downtown near the Hawthorne bridge. Right now he works 2 miles from home so we are not used to long commutes. 


I've read the other recent threads about moving to Portland, and learned some from them. However, there really wasn't much about homeschooling and that is key to where we would live.





post #2 of 23

I am sorry, but cannot comment on homeschooling/unschooling. We send our daughter to Montessori school.  However, I can comment on the large lot question. We moved to Portland in August and spent 6 months diligently looking for a home on a large lot. I don't know what you consider large, but we wanted something over .33 acres. We even compromised and went down to .25 when we got desperate. We found very little. Most lot sizes out here are .14 acres. This is city living. If you want larger lot sizes, you have to move out to the suburbs, which means that you would not be living in Portland. We were unhappy with our choices as well with the overcast weather for the past 7 months, so we are moving again.


Best of luck to you. Hope someone answers your question!



post #3 of 23
I live in the Sw part of the city.. I do have a third of an acre.. this is considered "a big lot" in Portland. I moved into this corner of the Portland because the schools are so fabulous here. So, no I don't have any ideas about homeschooling here.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 



We have 5,000 square feet and I want a lot bigger than that. We don't necessarily have to live in Portland city, just within a 30 minute commute of downtown. 


I am concerned about the lack of sunshine. We live in Arizona and I don't know what it will be like to have so much overcastness (I just created that word.) However, it has long been a dream of my husband's to move to Oregon and I am supporting that. We will rent out our current house so we will always have a place to come back to.


What areas in the metropolitan area are ruralish, safe, lots of crunchy families, and within half an hour of downtown?



post #5 of 23
It does rain nearly nine months out of twelve here. That's how it stays so green.

Most of the rural spots I know of are not liberal like Portland.. they get very churchy, conservative and have those Republican signs in the yard come election time.We had researched some of that before our move 5 years ago.

If you are wealthy, you might be able to pick up a double lot somewhere near town.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

What about the Milwaukie area? I saw a place advertised for rent there. (We will probably rent our first year to figure out where we really want to live. And to make sure we like the constant cloudiness.)

post #7 of 23

When we lived in the Portland area we were always in the suburbs, so I really can't say how big of a lot you could get to live on, but homeschooling is big in Portland. There are several homeschool groups on yahoo. 

It is getting late and I need to go to bed, but I will try to remember to come back and post links to some of the groups tommorow.

post #8 of 23

I live in Milwaukie. While a lot of the people here are more conservative than Portland proper, it isn't ALL bad winky.gif There are some large lots, and a lot that are being divided. But it's practically Portland, and only a 15 minute drive to the Hawthorne Bridge, unless traffic is really bad.


As to your homeschooling/unschooling question - there is a GREAT community here. There are a few Yahoo! groups, and the Life is Good unschooling conference is held just over the river in Vancouver, Washington and well attended by Portland families.

post #9 of 23

We are considering Milwaukie too. Is there any neighborhood that is more HS/US, green, veggie, organic, liberal, punkrock 'n' roll than any other??? Any with potential to be any of that? We have a five year plan.


post #10 of 23

Ugh. I find Milwaukie in general to be far less hip, green, etc. than Portland. It is kind of hard sometimes. For example, we live on a great street with lots of kids, but three of the families take the kids out on the ATVs on weekends. One of them has a teen who rides the dirt bike up and down the street. The kids across the street asked me why I was out weeding - why didn't I just spray the weeds? That kind of thing. The people are nice, don't get me wrong! Just very...normal. :-)  There *is* a great Waldorf school here, right on the edge of "downtown" and I think the neighborhood over there is a bit more natural minded.

If you have a particular neighborhood or street in mind, I might be able to tell you more.

post #11 of 23

We just moved to Portland last year. We're in SE, near Mt Tabor, and really love it--loads of crunchy families, plenty of homeschoolers (though we don't), and relatively affordable if you get a bit further out (we're around 64th Ave). I'm on a homeschooling email list, and it's very active--check out the Yahoo groups that a PP mentioned. I agree that the further you get outside of the city--the suburbs and the rural areas--the more conservative things tend to get. So it's a bit of a tradeoff--you might have to lose some of the space to get some of the crunchy/progressive stuff. Lots of people around here do a lot with their urban homesteads: chickens, veggie gardens, etc.

The winter was actually less painful than I'd imagined, though it definitely gets old after a while. The spring was much harder--this year was wetter and colder than usual--but the summers more than make up for it.

post #12 of 23

I really appreciate your answers. Thanks! DH has veto'd Milwaukie, so we are looking at SE Portland. Mt Tabor, Woodstock, Creston-Kenilworth. Do Mt Scott-Arleta and Brent-Darlington fit the bill less? We will need a 570 sq ft recording space (sound-proofed of course) and neighbors that are cool with that.


I'm doing 6 months of snow shoveling right now, so we may be ok with the winters. Both snow and rain lose their appeal after a few months. I'm a native NY'er. I like 3 month seasons, but I'm not moving back to NY.


School is must here, so we'll do our best for awhile since so many things are great. I may never get to HS/US thing depending on how life unfolds, but I like Portland for lots of reasons anyway. I'm off-topic now but I like the look of Pacific Crest Community School if we end up "in school".

post #13 of 23

The hardest part about the winters here isn't really the rain - it's the constant cloudiness. We have very few sunny days from Nov-June. We had some great sun the past couple of weeks, but right now it's cloudy. It HAS been an unusually cool/wet late spring and early summer, though.


The sunny days we DO have in winter are spectacular, though. Brilliant blue skies and a white mountain or two in the distance - makes for great photos ;-)

post #14 of 23

5,000 sq ft isn't really that big, my lot in the Woodstock neighborhood is over 7,000.  Many places East of 82nd Ave. have bigger lots, some much bigger.  Still only 20 minutes to downtown or Hawthorne.  Much of the Eastside is homeschooling/unschooling friendly, as are local businesses that offer homeschool classes during weekdays.  We've done science at OMSI, art and ice skating, all during the day.


I've only lived in the SE part of Portland, but most of within city limits seems pretty crunchy/lefty.  The suburbs are different.  Although there is some gang activity and random gunshots, most of the city is pretty safe most of the time.  There really isn't anywhere I wouldn't consider going if I had some reason to.


I'm originally from Seattle, so I find the 'so much clouds, what about the sun' comments kind of funny.  We've had about 10 days now of high 70's, low 80's mostly sunny weather, with 10 more days of if forecast.  I was actually thinking fondly of wearing t-shirts and jeans again when it cools down.  Yes it's often cloudy and rainy three seasons of the year, but the rain is often just intermittent drizzle that barely gets you wet, the temperature is still comfortable, and it rarely freezes or snows.  We don't have tornadoes, blizzards, sand storms, dust storms, or wildfires threatening the city.  You don't need air conditioning and if you have a small house you can get by with just a wood stove for heat.


I love Portland. thumb.gif

-- ML

post #15 of 23

Looking at houses in PDX again! What about Corbett-Twillinger-Lair Hill? Is the southwest NOT green, veggie, hip, homeschooly and unschooly?

There's a great house there with views and a large lot. We really want it all...country living in the city. It is close to Sellwood bridge, so Sellwood pool and park are accessible.


And would we be able to rent it while we finish up life in Sweden? Or would something more close-in SE/NE be better?



post #16 of 23

The importance of a big lot:  Yes, they exist, but not close in.  Be prepared to do some commuting if that's non-negotiable.  Fortunately, if you hate driving, you can get almost ANYWHERE by public transit here.


Proximity:  Within a 30 minute commute of downtown generally means most of the city, and some of the outlying areas (Gresham, Clackamas County, or some of the SW suburbs).  Driving in from Beaverton and Hillsboro is nobody's idea of fun, the traffic is awful.  Same for WA state.


Sunshine:  is a magical thing that happens in July and August, much of September, and in a good year, quite a bit of October too.  From November to June, it's pretty much a fantasy.  I call it the "wet season" and "permagloom".  To cope with it, people drink inordinate amounts of coffee and/or beer.  Coming from AZ will be quite shocking.


Safety:  is a relative term.  I don't ever feel unsafe here, but I've lived in some truly dangerous places.  Compared to places like Chicago, or SF, or NYC, Portland is snoresville.  We have gangs and drugs and prostitution here, but if you aren't actively involved in those industries, it's easy to forget that...


Crunch:  Compared to most places in the US, even places like Beaverton feel "crunchy", but the rule of thumb is the crunch factor decreases as you head away from the city.  Still though, there are pockets of "crunch" even out in the suburbs, after all, not everyone can afford to live close in. 


Homeschooling:  I don't homeschool (too busy teaching other people's kids), but this seems like as good place tas any o do it, if you're so inclined.  There's plenty of resources and groups and such.  The library has lots of educational materials, and you can get even more at places like Powells.  Lots of cultural activities, rec services, field trips, things to do, museums, libraries, universities, etc, so you should find your niche just fine. Importantly, nobody's going to judge you one way or the other.




post #17 of 23

I am sitting in my SE  Portland (Montavilla) bedroom after a week of rain, clouds and a little snow and the sun is streaming in. It is warm enough to go for a walk in a sweatshirt. It will undoubtedly rain again today. I work full time (as a teacher for Portland Public Schools) so I can't afford to homeschool. I can answer a lot of questions about Portland schools, though. I used to live right on the border between Portland and Milwaukie right on a dedicated wild space, the Springwater Corridor and LOVED it. We had an average sized yard, but with the wild space literally in our backyard, it felt much bigger and so natural. I miss it so much. There are several spaces like this sprinkled throughout the Portland area.


The good thing about our current neighborhood is my son goes to an amazing public school four blocks away called The Creative Science School. CSS is committed to the Constructivist philosophy, which is very child centered. The community of parents, teachers and students is wonderful. It is a lottery for admission, so you can't count on getting in. Portland has a handful of really amazing, alternative programs that are "focus" schools or charters. Here is a link to the list: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/education-options/Final2012.13EdOptions-Brochure.pdf.

post #18 of 23

We moved here 4 months ago. We live in the Brent wood neighborhood on a large lot (over 1/3rd of an acre). I LOVE it here. I'm very crunchy, and we are totally unschoolers (though my son is only 2). There is an active unschooling group, and SEVERAL homeschooling groups. In the summer and fall these groups have lots of park days and meetups, but they slow down in the winter. Though you can find some of them at OMSI or the Children's Museum. We looked at the suburbs, but we decided we'd rather just have a little bit less land and be close in. It allows us to only have 1 car, and tons of great close shopping. (I'm in love with New Seasons, but we also live very close to TJ, and whole foods isn't far, even the big Fred Meyer is nice). It is seriously the unschooling/alternative schooling capital. If my son ever does attend school it will be Montessori or the free school. 

We are very very happy to be here, as opposed to the chicago suburbs. 

post #19 of 23

hey oregonians! we used to live in eugene before we had children, we now have dd 3 1/2 and ds 8mths, and are researching where to move to to raise these guys how we really want to. i read that homeschool law inOR requires testing, do you do that? is there a way around that? i dont see how unschooling could really comply, wich is along the lines of my plans.  any input on the rules?? :)

post #20 of 23



Yes, Oregon does require testing for homeschool students, starting at the end of 3rd grade, then again (I think) at 5th and 8th grade?.  Children 'must' score in at least the 15th percentile, *or* show progress between tests, in order to be able to continue to homeschool unbothered by the state.  Although it seems strict, it is pretty relaxed-  If I understand the law correctly, even if you do not show progress between tests, you are given several chances before the state intervenes.  I have been assured by many homeschoolers that a) most HS kids test just fine on these tests, even unschoolers, and b) as long as your children show some progress in between testing years, even if they don't score in the 15th percentile the state will leave you alone.  


I know some HS families try to extend the testing deadline by enrolling their 7 year old as a grade behind-  In effect giving them an extra year before they have to take the tests (even though at home their child may actually be doing grade level or above curricula).  I'm not sure if there is a way to skirt it altogether, but I wouldn't let it deter you from homeschooling (or unschooling) if that is really what you want to do!  Research shows that homeschoolers typically score in the 80-84th percentile on these tests (no matter what their method- unschooling, etc), while public school students average around the 50th percentile.  And, like I said above, as long as your child shows progress in between testing, then it doesn't matter what they score.


If you have the luxury of deciding where to live, I think Washington state is more HS friendly- No testing required (if I remember correctly).  But seriously, if you like Oregon and want to stay here, don't let the testing thing scare you.  We are starting our homeschooling journey next fall and I've been reading and researching like CRAZY.  Everything I've read and everyone I've talked to has given me peace of mind about HS'ing here. 


There is also a thread on this very topic in the homeschooling forum (started by me, when I was asking the exact same questions!).  I would link to it but I have a horrid headache and am going to sign off- but it shouldn't be hard to find-  last week or so, entitled 'testing' or something or other :)

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