"We provide resources, vision, workshops, talks; we have keynote speakers," Mike Chapa, executive director of CHEC, said. "The home school movement is growing across this land and there's estimates that it's close to 2-and-a-half million now [nationwide]."
Chapa says there are more and more home schooling families in Colorado each year. He believes a big factor is religion. He says another factor is statistics. Chapa says on average, home-schooled students score in the 85th percentile on standardized tests, beating students from traditional public schools.
"Twenty-four-seven is how we view education of children," Chapa said. "We don't view it as they're in class for X hours a day and then everything else is not education."
Thirteen-year-old Nathan Johnson may be a good example of that. He is attending the conference as a vendor helping sell woodwork created by him and a friend. They designed and made their own marshmallow shooters and rubber band guns. Johnson says being home-schooled gives him freedom to be creative.
"It's been very, very good," Johnson said. "I've really enjoyed it and you learn a lot through it."
The CHEC conference is not only for families who currently home school their children. It is designed to help parents looking to get into home schooling for the first time.
"Schools are scary these days because of the budget cuts," Kristen Bruce-Webb, a parent, said.
She came to find out if home schooling can work for her and for her young children.
"I'm just kind of deer in the headlights right now because I'm just starting," Bruce-Webb said. "I just want to get some information to find out how to get started, how to do it."
The CHEC conference continues through Saturday at the Denver Merchandise Mart at Interstate 25 and 58th Avenue. It is open to the public, but there is an admission fee.
Chapa says this is just the continuation of a movement in Colorado which he says may triple in size over the next few decades. He says home schooling is a good option for all kids from special needs, to athletes, to the exceptionally gifted.
"About 90 percent of the homeschoolers are growing up to the next generation and then they're home schooling their children," Chapa said. "We're definitely going to see an increase and like I said it won't just be in the Christian home schooling community, it'll be in the homeschooling community across the country."
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)