ATLANTA — More families than ever are turning to homeschooling, according to United States Census data. Many have cited learning loss concerns and the whiplash of ever-changing policies.
Reports show that in 2020 alone, the percentage of Georgia parents who pulled their kids out of public school altogether to homeschool instead shot from seven to 16 percent. Experts say that trend is continuing.
Christina McCallum recently made the decision to move her 6-year-old son Adorn to virtual homeschool platform Time4Learning.
“It's going really well," she said. "Every day, I'm amazed at his progression.”
Her decision was based in part on a recent cross country move to Georgia and an advanced child, but she says the pandemic was the real tipping point.
“We kept on getting messages from the school saying, ok, we're going to open up and bring the kids in. Never mind, we're not going to do that. And it was really the back and forth and the uncertainty of things," she said.
Time4Learning Founder John Edelson says enrollments on their site have doubled over the past two years across Georgia. That's the biggest growth they’ve seen since they launched nearly 20 years ago.
“I think the chaos that goes on in a lot of schools helps drive people to try homeschooling," Edelson said. "Learning loss is a huge problem. It's very hard for schools to address it.”
A Georgia State University study released in 2021 found substantial learning loss among metro Atlanta students, with some groups losing the equivalent of seven months or more in areas like reading and math.
“I'm very empathetic to the schools," Edelson said. "It's very difficult for them to move as quickly as they need to address this. But in homeschooling, you have the flexibility and you have the control.”
It’s not for everyone, but Christina McCallum say it works for them.
"I'm learning about his strengths," she said. "I'm learning about what he wants to work on and improve, so I love it. We might do homeschool forever.”