While many public schools will be out for the Thanksgiving break, learning continues for homeschooled students. Some will be in the kitchen helping mom bake an apple pie for dessert. The pouring, mixing, measuring, and baking combine math and science concepts that children can learn in a different, yet practical way.
Those life skill lessons are a unique twist on learning outside of a textbook and a traditional classroom setting. The concept of homeschooling apparently appeals to many families in the CSRA where growth trends are mirroring and, in some cases, exceeding what is happening across the country.
The number of homeschooled students in Aiken County has seen a 26% increase since 2018. In Richmond and Columbia counties in Georgia, the increase is about 3%, however, Georgia is one of three states in the country with the highest homeschool enrollment at 91,000 students.
Saundra Kelly is the Director of DeKel mPact Services in Augusta. While the pandemic spurred the need for homeschooling resources, the decision to open the business in 2020 also stemmed from her background.
“As a former teacher and a homeschooling parent myself, I started tutoring, but the need was great for supporting other parents who were interested in teaching their children. The programs we offer just grew from there,” explained Kelly.
Those programs include:
- Homeschool: Full-time learning community focused on choice and custom-designed curriculum at individualized levels. Designed to allow supported instruction and allow learners more freedom to pursue their interests.
- Virtual: Allows learners to work at home with the support of a learning coach. Coursework can consist of real-time or platforms with monitoring through text, email, and conferencing platforms.
- Hybrid: Program focused on supporting blended in-person and online learning. Learning activities are differentiated for students based on their physical location.
- Co-Op: Group opportunities for learners to socialize and explore learning experiences that are designed to build better communities for learners, family, and community. Co-Op classes generally meet on one or more specific days. In addition, the Co-Op offers meet-ups and family engagement activities.
“Our programs are personalized to students’ needs and interests. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but when it is the right match, we will find the subject matter experts to teach them what they need to know to excel, including financial literacy, culinary arts, cosmetology, CPR, and medical technology, among others.”
There is a myth that homeschooled students learn in their PJs and that the programs don’t offer socialization, but there are numerous homeschool programs in the CSRA connected to businesses in the community which offer learning opportunities, including field trips.
“Family engagement and accountability for homeschooling are vital, but the business partnerships create a great connection to the community for learning and giving back through volunteering through the Kroc Center, among others. It all helps build a foundation for future learning.”
What began as a necessity and a temporary option became an alternative for traditional education that doubled the numbers and expanded DeKel mPact Services in the CSRA.
Ahead lies a conference in January that includes up to 500 participants for homeschooling programs at the Kroc Center. It will boost the local economy and present new options for homeschooling.
Mitzi Oxford is a veteran broadcaster and features writer who also worked at the same television station in Columbus, Georgia as Augusta’s Brad Means! If you have a South Carolina story idea for Mitzi, please email her at email@example.com.