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Annual expo pairs growing number of homeschooling SC families with resources

Cola City Homeschoolers
Columbia-area families find resources at Cola City Homeschoolers.

The number of children home-schooled in South Carolina has increased almost 50% since the 2017-18 school year, according to a recent report from the Washington Post. The report analyzed data from nearly 7,000 school districts across the country and called homeschooling the fastest-growing form of education in the U.S.

Kim Andrysczyk, with the South Carolina Homeschooling Connection and local resource hub Cola City Homeschoolers, said she works with many families ready to try something different.

“They just realize that something isn’t working where their kids currently are and they’re looking for an alternative.”

Andrysczyk has coached and mentored families since 2010. Before then, she homeschooled her two children through the 12th grade. She said she considers herself a collector of resources and information to help people wherever they are in their homeschool journey. Each year Andrysczyk hosts the South Carolina Homeschool Expo, where on average 500 gather to connect with a myriad of vendors.

“We have grown a good collective of regular vendors who have come year after year, but we are always looking for more diverse resources. This year especially, we’re looking for more of the neurodiversity and cultural diversity resources.

This year, Columbia-based Akoma Cares is working with Andrysczyk as co-host of the expo. The homeschool & community resource organization is dedicated to supporting and empowering families of the African diaspora. Co-founder Shamay Oware said she has seen an increase in second-generation homeschoolers in the Black and Brown community.

“They’re coming out more, because there’s more resources; more opportunities to connect with other families.”

Through Akoma Cares, Oware complies and publishes lists of resources for homeschoolers; from disability-related resources to extra-curricular activities and enrichment resources. She said her hope for co-hosting the expo this year is to be a part of creating a diverse homeschool experience.

“It’s important for us to learn about each other and grow together. If you’re not careful, because you are so in charge of your child’s education, you can really tailor it in a way that might not be conducive or beneficial to understanding diversity in richness of people.”

The 2024 expo offers families local services and products, used books and consignment sale, and self-guided vendor hall tours. The event is free and open to the public.

Thelisha Eaddy is the local Morning Edition host for South Carolina Public Radio.