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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University

Homeschooling Trends in Metro Atlanta
Judy A. Walker
Reinhardt College
August 2004

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
Homeschooling Trends in Northern Metro Atlanta
The mere mention of homeschooling elicits emotions from both ends of the spectrum.
There seems to be no middle of the road. People are either in favor or not in favor of this
growing trend to homeschool their children. Has this always been the case? Actually, before
the mid-1800s homeschooling was the norm and not the exception! History tells us that public
schools came into existence as a result of political and religious influences. Besides teaching
academics, the public school was an ideal forum to promote patriotism and moral values
(1998 Kleist-Tesch). Then, a hundred years later in the 1960s and 1970s, protesters of social
and religious values formed communes and once again homeschooling was revived. The
founder of this homeschooling movement, John Holt, objected to the quality of education and
emphasized child-centered education. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the impact of
fundamentalist Christianity and the revival of conservatism, homeschooling again gained
popularity. This time it was as an objection to what was being taught in the public schools
(Kleist-Tesch 1998). Is that still the reason people choose to homeschool today?
The purpose of this study was to discover not only the reason people homeschool,
but also the homeschooling trends in

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
the northern counties of the Metro Atlanta area. Specifically, this researcher set out to
determine the following: 1) the demographics of Metro Atlanta homeschooling families; 2)the
reasons families make the choice to homeschool; 3) the different teaching methods used by
homeschoolers along with the rewards and challenges; and 4) how the primary educator
creates balance in his/her life.
Nationwide there have been few reported studies on the demographics of
homeschooling families (2002 Bauman). Of those studies, the statistical report published in
1999 by Patricia Lines, a former Department of Education researcher, and the National
Center for Education Statistics (2001 Bielick) are the largest and most inclusive to date. It is
clear that more and more people are homeschooling and it seems that the demographics are
changing. This study added to the body of knowledge by collecting demographic information
specific to the Northern Metro Atlanta area.
Nationwide, accurate statistics have been difficult to obtain on homeschooling.
Possible reasons for this difficulty are that some families are not trusting and/or willing to
provide information (2000 Lines). This bias might be decreased by specifically targeting
known groups and networks of

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
homeschoolers. This method increased the likelihood of collecting data from a
diverse group of homeschoolers.
In the National Center for Education Statistics technical report published in 2001, it
was reported that a greater number of homeschoolers as compared to nonhomeschoolers
are white and non-Hispanic. Though no significant difference in household annual income,
the parents of homeschoolers have a higher level of education (2001 Bielick). Furthermore,
homeschoolers are more likely to be from religious, conservative, and two-parent families,
with usually two children being homeschooled and another younger, non-school-age child in
the family (Lines 2000).
In Georgia, there is a paucity of demographic data on homeschooling families. The
Georgia Department of Education keeps statistics only on the number of children being
homeschooled in each county of the state. As of the end of the 2002-2003 school year,
31,732 children were being homeschooled in Georgia, representing a 67% increase over the
1998-1999 figure of 21,132 homeschooled children (Ga. Dept. of Education 2004). No
further demographic data are available.
Although there are several reasons for homeschooling, dissatisfaction with the
academic quality of public schools appears to be the number one reason (2000 Anderson;
Lines 2000).
Encountering different standards when moving from one state to another state has
been an incentive for initiating homeschooling. Aileen Dodd, in her August 2003 article in The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, relayed the story of a family moving from Virginia to Gwinnett
County in Georgia. They had no choice but to homeschool because Gwinnett County, one of
the most advanced school systems in the state (2003 Dodd), was not equipped to deal with

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their children who were multiple grades ahead. Another example of dissatisfaction with the
academic quality of public schools is the case of third-grader Myles M. who begged his
parents not to send him to school and wanted instead “just to read” (Anderson 2000). Myles’
teacher was pleased when his parents removed him from public school to begin
homeschooling. Because the school curriculum was structured to teach to the 40 th
percentile,
Myles was not being challenged enough to keep his attention. This situation occurred in
Massachusetts (2000 Anderson) but it is not unique to that state.
As the trend to homeschool continues to rise, the public education system remains
under attack (Anderson 2000). The 2002-2003 SAT scores released in August of 2003
showed Georgia, for the second year in a row, has the lowest scores among all states (Tofig
2003). This study helped to determine the proportion of families that are choosing to
homeschool because of their belief that the Georgia school system is below par.
Today, families choose to homeschool for one of several reasons, not only because of
an objection to the quality of education or the content of what is being taught. Other reasons
for homeschooling include special needs or disability, behavioral problems, unsuitable
learning environment (i.e., trailer classrooms), unsafe learning environment (i.e., drugs and
violence) or because of the parents’ career choices. This study revealed the most common
reasons Metro Atlantans choose homeschooling.
Most people are not aware of the resources available to homeschooling families to
assist in teaching and learning. Times have changed since the days of sitting at the kitchen
table. Homeschooling methods today include, besides the traditional parent-child instruction,
study groups, field trips, tutors, and Internet interaction, among others (Anderson 2000; Kleist-
Tesch 1998; Lines 2000). There are several avenues available for homeschooling families.

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
Preset curriculums are available and can be strictly followed. A parent may also choose to
use a mixed design, using the preset curriculum part of the day and adding study groups,
tutoring, Internet interaction, or field trips to supplement the remainder of the day. An alternate
method called “unschooling” is also popular among some homeschoolers. Unschooling is a
method of learning in which there is little adult direction. The child is open to explore his own
interests. The present study characterized the teaching methods used by parents in the
Northern Metro Atlanta area.
Lastly, burnout among homeschoolers happens quite often. Fatigue and
discouragement can set in rapidly when the desired results are not there. Some
homeschoolers have found that teaching for six weeks and then taking a week off helps to
beat the fatigue. Also, common-sense health habits are necessary for the body to work
efficiently. Besides physical needs, some homeschoolers find time alone for spiritual renewing
to keep their balance. (Miller 1999). Metro Atlanta homeschool educators are not immune
from burnout. This study sought the methods used to create balance in the parent-
homeschooler’s life.
Method
Participants and Design
There were 40 participants in this study, each of which was the primary home educator
in the family. 1 All participants were from one of the northern Metro Atlanta counties. Race,
education level, religious affiliation, political party, county of residence, and family income
level were relevant to this study, but age and gender were not relevant.
1 One participant reported that she, another female, and one male were life partnered and shared equally in
homeschooling.

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
The study employed a questionnaire designed to obtain demographic information on
the participants, the reasons homeschooling was chosen, the preferred teaching method,
rewards and challenges of both the teaching method and of homeschooling overall, and how
balance was achieved. Distribution was accomplished by hand and via e-mail. Procedure
A two-page questionnaire was constructed (see Appendix A). In lieu of a consent
form, a preamble at the top of the survey stated the purpose of the survey. Further, to deter
any participant from feeling threatened about the intent of the survey, the participants were
informed that the study was being performed under the direction of the researcher’s college
professor, herself a homeschooling parent, thus setting a nonthreatening stage. The
preamble also stated that the study was voluntary and anonymous.
The first section of the questionnaire asked for demographic information: gender,
marital status, race, years of college for adults, county of residence, religious affiliation,
political party, ages of children being homeschooled, grade equivalent for each child, and the
family’s annual household income. It was emphasized to participants that the question
seeking household income was optional; however, any and all questions were optional.
The next section of the questionnaire listed fifteen (15) common reasons for
homeschooling. 2 (See Appendix A.) The participants were asked to check the reason or
reasons that applied to their family and were asked to rate the reasons as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd if
more than one. A space was also provided to explain any reason not included in the list.
The next section of the survey inquired into teaching methods. The participants
were asked to choose the method typically used: 1) mix of preset curriculum and own
design; 2) strictly preset curriculum; or 3) “unschooling” method, and were then asked to
comment on the rewards and challenges of the method. This section also asked the

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
participant to list any groups, activities, or classes the homeschooled child attends;
however, this information was later determined not to be relevant for this study and
therefore not analyzed.
The last set of questions asked for the participant’s opinion regarding the overall
rewards and challenges of homeschooling and asked how the primary homeschooling
parent kept balance in his/her life.
2 The list of common reasons was obtained from a study by Kurt J. Bauman of the U. S. Census Bureau
titled “Home Schooling in the United States: Trends

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
To reduce the risk of any emotional upset, the participants were also given a
contact phone number for questions. They were also given the opportunity to obtain
the results by requesting the results on the completed questionnaire. Further,
debriefing was offered through an invitation to attend a presentation of the results.
Participants were solicited by posting messages on three homeschooling networks in
North Atlanta and by handing them out at two homeschooling events attended by the
assisting professor. Being a member of AAEN (Atlanta Alternative Education
Network), the assisting professor posted a message on that website’s message
board. A list of Georgia’s homeschooling groups found at the Georgia Home
Educator’s Association Web site (www.ghea.org) provided the contacts for the other
two networks, GHEIN (Georgia Home Education Inclusive Network) and C.H.E.E.R.
(Christian Homeschooling Encouragement and Education Resource). The message
posted sought volunteers to participate in this survey of homeschooling trends. Those
interested sent an e-mail to the researcher expressing an interest. The researcher e-
mailed the two-page questionnaire the same day to the participant. The participant
then had the opportunity to either
and Characteristics” (Bauman 2002). The format was altered to include a ranking column and the table format of the chart was adjusted for clarity.

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
fax the completed survey back to the researcher or mail it to the researcher’s home.
For those questionnaires handed out at the homeschooling events, a preaddressed
envelope, including the college’s return mail address, was provided. No postage was paid, but
anonymity was a priority.
The cutoff date for receiving completed questionnaires was five weeks from
commencement. As the completed surveys were received, they were assigned an
identification number. Each response field on the survey was then given an 8-letter code
name and a chart was created to code the data. For open-ended questions, the answers were
analyzed for trends in response and categories for the responses were determined.
Descriptive statistics, including frequencies, means, and standard deviations, were obtained.
The only fields analyzed further than obtaining the frequency of occurrence were the number
of children homeschooled, the oldest child being homeschooled, and the highest grade level.
These fields also were analyzed for the mean and standard deviation. A copy of the code
sheet with response choices is attached as Appendix B and the open-ended category
responses are attached as Appendix C.
Discussion

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The present findings strongly show that the number one reason families in Northern
Metro Atlanta choose to homeschool is a belief that they can give their child a better
education at home. Similarly, the desire for quality in education and child-centered education
is also the number one reason among the homeschooling families nationwide. In analyzing
the data related to reasons, there was a concern that the improper use of the word “rate”
instead of “rank” in the instructions for ranking the reasons in order of importance may have
caused confusion. Because the percentage ranking “better education at home” was so high,
this concern was dismissed. For those who may have been confused or did not follow
directions, the answers were coded as invalid and not analyzed.
Further, the remaining descriptive statistical findings indicate that these homeschooling
families fall right in line demographically with the national trends—white, religious,
conservative, educated, married, with no significance difference in annual income and on
average, homeschooling two children. Even though the demographics of the subject area are
similar, given that this was a very narrow study, with only 40 participants out of thousands in
the pool and the participants self-selecting to participate in the study, the results cannot be
generalized to the whole Northern Metro Atlanta area.

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Although the idea that targeting networks of homeschoolers would decrease the lack
of trust and unwillingness to participate found in previous studies was a valid thought,
for this study the number of participants was disappointing. Perhaps the timing of the
study, end of spring, and typically the end of the school year, was not ideal for
soliciting participation. There may have been an air of “burnout” and uninterest at that
time of year and for that reason this researcher would recommend distributing future
surveys at a different time of year. It can also be said that given the choice to
participate or not is not a random sampling of the homeschooling population. Indeed,
the optimistic, passionate expressions revealed on the surveys are hopefully typical of
all homeschooling families, but this researcher believes only the passionate would
elect to participate. The qualitative analysis of the responses to the open-ended
questions (rewards/challenges/balance) was a huge task for a novice researcher. A
seasoned researcher may have been better able to categorize the responses more
succinctly. However, with this study as a guide, a recommendation for future studies
would be to list suggested rewards, challenges, and ways of creating balance so that
descriptive statistics could be obtained for that data as well.

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
All in all, although small in size, this research study was helpful in realizing the
characteristics and trends of some homeschoolers in Northern Metro Atlanta and, more
importantly, relayed the passion and commitment of these parents. A new respect for this
sector of society is deservedly earned.
Statistical Findings
Demographics
To analyze the results of the demographic section of the survey, the frequency was
calculated for each response. The marital status of the participants was married for 37 out of
40, or 92.5%. The other categories of separated, divorced, or life partnered were equally split
at 2.5%.
The ethnic group for 36 participants, or 90%, was Caucasian. Blacks and
Hispanics were represented by one participant in each ethnic group, or 2.5% of the total.
The remaining 5% was classified as “other.”
Most frequently the home educator’s own education level was that of a college
graduate. Forty-seven and a half percent (47.5%) of the participants were college graduates.
Thirty percent (30%) had some college and 22.5% had years of education beyond a 4-year
degree.
The participants were widely scattered among the northern Atlanta counties with
23.1% in Gwinnett County, 20.5% in DeKalb

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County, 17.9% in Cobb County, 12.8% in Forsyth County, 7.7% in Fulton, 5.1% in
Cherokee, and 12.8% from other nearby counties. One participant did not list a county of
residence.
Religious affiliation was split with 62.5% Protestant, 7.5% Catholic, and 30%
categorized as “other.” It should be noted that “other” included no religious affiliation as well
as Eastern religions.
The political affiliation of the participants was heavily Republican. Sixty-two and a half
percent (62.5%) reported that they were Republican, while only 10% reported being
Democrats. Five participants (12.5%) were Libertarian, one participant (2.5%) was an
Independent, and five (12.5%) reported being nonpartisan.
The number of children being homeschooled ranged from 1 to 4, with the largest
percentage, 42.5% teaching two children at home. The next frequent number of children
being homeschooled was one. Thirty-five percent (35%) were homeschooling a single child.
Remarkably, 20% were homeschooling three children and one participant (2.5%) was
homeschooling four children. The average number of children being homeschooled was 1.9
and the standard deviation was .810.
The survey asked for the ages of the children being homeschooled but for
this study only the oldest child was analyzed. The ages ranged from 4 to 17, with
the most frequent age being 11. The average age of the oldest child was 9.55 and
the standard deviation was 3.146. Fifteen percent of the oldest child category were
11 years old. In descending order according to frequency, the remaining results
were as follows: 12.5%, 9 years old; 12.5%, 6 years old; 10%, 7 years old; 10% 6
years old; 7.5%, 13 years old; 7.5%, 12 years old; 7.5%, 10 years old, 5%, 5 years

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
old; and 2.5%, 4, 14, 15, 16, or 17 years old.
Likewise, although the survey asked for the grade level of the children, for purposes
of this study only the oldest grade was analyzed. The average highest grade level was
fourth grade and the standard deviation was 3.108. The frequency results were as follows:
5% were at the kindergarten level; 20% were at the first grade level; 7.5% were at the
second grade level; 12.5% were at the third grade level; 12.5% were at the fourth grade
level; 7.5% were at the fifth grade level; 12.5% were at the sixth grade level; 7.5% were at
the seventh grade level; 7.5% were at the eighth grade level; 5% were at the eleventh grade
level; and 2.5% was at the twelfth grade level.
The annual family income was an optional question. Thirty-eight of the 40 participants
responded to that question. Those responses were quite evenly split with 25% being between
$25,000–$49,000; 22.5% being between $50,000–$74,000; 22.5% being between $75,000–
$99,000; and 25% being over $100,000. Reasons
To analyze the results of the reasons for choosing homeschooling section of the
survey, the frequency was calculated for each of the 15 given reasons. Of those given
reasons, the 40 participants selected reasons with the following frequency:
REASONS FREQUENCY Can give better education at home 33 Religious reasons 13 Poor learning environment fourteen Object to what school teaches 14 School does not challenge child twelve Family reasons 9 Child has special needs/disability six To develop character/morality 28 Other problem w/available school five Student behavioral problems two Want private school/cannot afford it 6 Child has temporary illness zero Parent’s career zero

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
Transportation/distance/convenience 2 Could not get into desired school one
The given reasons were ranked as first, second, or third choice. If the participant chose
not to rank the reasons, the answer was coded with 999. If the participant used first, second,
or third more than once, the answer was coded as invalid and 998 was entered. Thirty percent
(30%) of the responses ranking the reasons listed Can give child better education at home as
the number one reason for choosing homeschooling. The number two reason for choosing
homeschooling was the same response, and the third place ranking was Poor learning
environment at school. See Appendix D.
Only 9 participants listed an additional/different reason with no two answers the same.
The different reasons listed were safety, family, food allergies, gifted child, children should be
with parents, school hours too long, not a second choice, grew up wanting to homeschool,
and freedom.
Teaching Method and Rewards/Challenges
There was no question that the mixed teaching method was the favorite method with
90% of the participants choosing that method. Seven and one-half percent (7.5%) of the
participants chose the preset method and just one or 2.5% of the participants used the
unschooling method.
The rewards and challenges were asked for both the method used and also
homeschooling overall. The most popular method being the mixed design, it was not
unexpected that the reward most often cited was “flexibility” (44%). Next in line was
“variety” with 13.9% and “seeing the child’s ability to learn increase” was third with 11%.
The most challenging aspects of the chosen method were equally divided among three
challenges all relating to time: time element, time to prepare, and

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
designing curriculum. Each were given as a response 13.6% of the time.
The most prevalent overall reward was a tie at 17.5% for both “time together” and
“raising own child.” And, the most cited challenge of homeschooling as a whole was—
patience! Balance
Maintaining balance in the homeschooler’s life was not only difficult to categorize but
also difficult for most homeschoolers to achieve. Thirty two and a half percent (32.5%) of the
participants could not give a valid method of relaxing or breaking away from the
parent/teacher role. However, a larger total percentage found balance in support from friends
(25%) and in involvement in outside interests (25%).

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References
Anderson, B.C. 2000. An A for home schooling. City Journal. Retrieved March 12,
2004, from http://www.cityjournal.org/html/10_3_an_a_for_home.html
Bauman, K. J. (2002, May 16). Home schooling in the United States: Trends and
Characteristics. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10/26). Retrieved March 12, 2004
from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n26.html
Bielick, S., Chandler, K. and Broughman, S. “Homeschooling in the United States: 1999.”
NCES Technical Report, 2001-033. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of
Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001. http://nces.ed.gov/
pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2001033
dodd, d. a. (2003, August 22). The rise of homeschooling: thousands take the
opportunity to tailor their children’s education. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Gwinnett Section, p. JJ1.
Georgia Department of Education (2004). Untitled. Atlanta, Georgia. Received
March 15, 2004.
Kleist-Tesch, J. M. (1998). Homeschoolers and the Public Library.
Journal of Youth Services in Libraries.

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PSY2061 Research Methods Lab © 2013 South University
Lines, P. “Homeschooling Comes of Age.” The Public Interest 140 (2000a): 74-85. EJ 609
191. http://www.discovery.org/viewDB/
index.php3?program=Misc%26command=view%26id=2
Lines, P. (1999). “Homeschoolers: Estimating Numbers and Growth.” Web edition.
Washington, D.C.: Office of Education Research and Improvement, U. S.
Department of Education.
Miller, C. (1999. “Beating Homeschool Burnout.” Classical Christian Homeschooling.
http://www.classicalhomeschooling.org /homeschooling/burnout.html
Tofig, Dana (2003, August 26). Georgia ranks 50 th
in SAT scores for second straight year. The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0803/26satga.html

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