The percentage of Georgia parents who switched to homeschool has more than doubled since the pandemic started.
MILTON, Ga. — The percentage of Georgia parents who have pulled their kids out of public school and made the switch to homeschool has more than doubled since the pandemic — skyrocketing from 7% in early 2020 to more than 16%, according to US Census data.
The Chehimis are among them. The family of five from Milton made the switch to virtual homeschool after Christmas so they could travel together.
Parents, Danielle and Jamal Chehimi, say for the first time in their careers they had the opportunity to be remote, so they took advantage.
“We’re going to have this infinite amount of time to be together and I would really be just kicking myself, he would be kicking himself if we didn’t take advantage,” Danielle said. “Once we made the decision and pulled the kids out, it was like okay, this is for real.”
RELATED: More Georgia families than ever are making the switch to homeschooling, data shows
“It’s just a moment in time we don’t think we’ll ever get back,” Jamal agreed.
The couple admits neither of them are teachers by trade, but say they learned a lot during the pandemic.
“When there was the lockdowns everyone spent a ton more time together at home, virtual learning, virtual work,” Jamal said. “It just changes you and changed our perspective, and there is a chance now post-covid that we can travel and we can be a bigger part of our children’s education.”
They spent the first few weeks traveling across the west coast. They’re about to set off for Europe for the next three months.
“Our social studies curriculum has been Greek mythology, and they’ll be able to see it firsthand,” Jamal said. “You can really loop in a good bit of our adventures into really their education, just using real world and real life experiences.” to mold their their personalities.”
Ten-year-old Jennah, 8-year-old Julianna, and 6-year-old Dean have plenty to say about their adventures.
RELATED: Sparked by pandemic fallout, homeschooling surges across US
“It’s been super fun, we’ve had lots of great experiences,” Julianna said.
“I’ve had like, a lot of great times!” little brother Dean quickly jumped in.
The three say it was an adjustment leaving their friends at school, but they’ve enjoyed doing virtual homeschool through Time4Learning.
“I like how you can move by your own pace and you don’t have to keep going when you don’t understand,” Julianna said. “If we don’t understand something, they’ll explain it more.”
Big sister Jennah says it’s been a bonding experience, too.
“We’re spending a lot more time with each other,” she said. “My favorite subject now is math because I can do it with my dad.”
Danielle says the virtual homeschool platform allows them to check the kids’ up-to-the minute progress, including what portions they struggled with or excelled in.
“I’ve loved seeing where my kid’s strengths are,” she said.
“Getting to connect with your child at that level, I don’t believe we ever really would have slowed down enough to really see that spark in each of them, and what does ignite that spark,” Jamal added.
They admit there’s been a learning curve.
“Patience is a virtue,” Jamal laughed, as the girls recalled the time they hid a squeaky toy from their little brother.
“He wouldn’t stop squeaking it!” Jennah laughed, as Dean’s eyes widened in shock.
But they’re making it work, making memories to last a lifetime.
“I’m very happy because they gave us an experience to explore and have lots of memories and share this with our children,” Julianna said. “We’ll have plenty of stories to tell.”
The Chehimis do plan to enroll back in “regular school” next year. In the meantime, they say they’re taking full advantage of this time together.
You can follow their adventures on Danielle’s instagram.
To learn more about homeschool requirements in Georgia, click here.
According to state regulations: “The Georgia Department of Education does not endorse, promote or provide a curriculum for your home study program. Each parent/guardian must decide which curriculum is best for their child and then purchase the curriculum on their own.”
Parents deciding to homeschool in the state of Georgia are required to have a high school diploma or GED.