About 15 years ago when I started homeschooling, I was struck by how many of the talks, key notes and vendors were stuck on the idea that homeschoolers excelled! They won competitions, they did great in college and they blew away the ACTs and the SATs! Sure, at the Christian conventions there was also a lot of talk about raising Godly children and living in a Christ-like atmosphere, but the overall impression I got was that just by having my kids at home, they had the academic edge.
15 years later I know that may the norm for some but not for all kids. My oldest struggled with reading right from the start, and it was very disheartening that my kids had also inherited Mr. Pete's aptitude for spelling which is creative at times! My kids have also not been the best test takers. If I compared my homeschooling results up against what I heard at those first conferences back in the 90s, I would think that we had failed.
This year, however, I finally heard one of the key note speakers say that academically, homeschooling might NOT be the best thing for some kids. The public high school undoubtedly has better science equipment, more sporting opportunities, classes for special ed etc. I was really surprised to hear that - it sure wasn't the message I had heard before.
But another message was mingled throughout the convention too, that of raising disciples and not merely educating students. And it was this message that really spoke to my heart as a homeschooling mother, because I have seen evidence for that. Sam and Gabe, my two high school students are not afraid to express and live their faith. They also don't feel tied to their peer group and aren't afraid to "hang" with adults and even seniors (singing in the church choir)
but are still able to be a steady influence with kids their own age.
Dare I say that my boys are even the "popular" kids albeit in an unconventional, novel sort of way. And yea Calvin did the public school's digital academy and he swam on the swim team and had a job at 16. He's a good worker and a responsible citizen, but in my opinion he is going to have a longer road with more thorns to chop through before he truly walks as a disciple of Christ. His high school years weren't as Christ- centered as his brothers are and that is because he was pulling away from home instead of "living" in it. I regret that.
In my everyday talks with moms and dads I think the message out there is no environment is perfect, every kid is different, and we all have different needs. But since the convention, I keep thinking that perhaps the first focus was and always has been, keeping them focused on God. And while that might not be impossible when they're in public schools and might be easier in Christian and Catholic schools, it should be A LOT easier to do when their studies and their daily routines are based at home and centered on Christ.
If you're interested in hearing the talks from the CHEO convention for yourself, you can order them on CD or for MP3 download here. Mr. Todd Wilson's talk in particular is very thought provoking and even very Catholic as he encouraged convention goers to choose the hard things, which in "Catholic " translates to "pick up your cross and walk!"