As a homeschooling Mom, I struggle with self-doubt. Are we doing enough? Are my children absorbing the right things? Yes, we have a very close family relationship, but are they learning what they need to be learning?
I have known many government-schooled students who never cracked a book, aced every test, and were involved in absolutely every school-sponsored extra-curricular activity available. However, those same students skulked through mixed-age groups, never looked anyone in the eye, and communicated with adults (if at all) only in monosyllabic grunts. (And people think my children will be lacking in social skills?)
I frequently need to remind myself that my goal is to produce functional human beings, not predictable test-takers. With the appropriate coaching, anyone can regurgitate answers onto a test paper, but what guarantee is there that those facts are relevant to real life? And how often do adults take tests? More desirable are the abilities to recognize a problem and determine its solution, do a satisfactory job on time in cooperation with those around you, and stand up as a productive, admirable citizen with an unshakable faith in God.
I often try to observe my own children as though I have never met them before. There I see young people who walk around with their heads held high, looking adults directly in the eye, and listening attentively while conversing in complete, articulate sentences. They recognize their surroundings and take responsibility for them — emptying the garbage when it is full instead of walking away as their banana peel slides off to the floor. I have received countless compliments from other adults who are astounded at minors who can communicate in a mature, intelligent manner.
My students may not be learning the same things as the students in government schools, but then again, I do not want them to learn the same things.