The Pro’s and Con’s of Micro-Schools and Homeschool Pods
What are micro-schools and homeschool pods and what is the best choice for my children? Covid-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live, play, shop, and go to school. My neighbors have spent the last 6 months keeping their children engaged in nature walks, bear hunts in the neighborhood, zoom birthday parties, and lots of movies. We were expecting the spread of Coronavirus to stop in the heat of the summer months. We expected that our children would be able to back to school in the Fall. Unfortunately, many parents have recently learned that their brick and mortar school will be virtual only, or be a combination of in-person and virtual (blended learning) for the 2020-21 school year.
Confused? Overwhelmed? You are not alone!
Academic tutoring centers, which are usually fully booked with students taking ACT and SAT prep courses, are now empty. Many colleges have changed the enrollment process to “Test Optional” due to the cancellation of scheduled test dates. According to Gil Gibori, owner of The House, a tutoring center in Glencoe IL, “I had 3 choices: close, survive or thrive.” He chose to modify the services offered by opening a micro-school learning center where students can “go to school” and complete their online schoolwork.
This option allows parents to choose their curriculum, including free public school options as well as private school and homeschool options. Typically, students work independently and are responsible for completing and submitting their school work. Adult supervisors facilitate a safe learning environment, but they may not certified teachers. Think of them as coaches rather than teachers.
Micro-schools may be for members only. Monthly fees start around $250 per month. Additional fees for tutors may start at $80 per hour.
- Children have a safe place, with adult supervision, to go to school.
- Most micro-schools are open to students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. This means that all children can attend the same school.
- Some micro-schools are open 7 days a week, giving families the flexibility to make school time work around their busy lives.
- Parents choose the curriculum that best suits their children.
- They can be costly.
- No transportation is provided.
- They may not be available in rural areas.
- Choosing the right curriculum can be overwhelming.
- Need to research state regulations regarding reputable or state approved curricula.
Want to learn more about Micro-Schools? Visit Microschool Revolution and take a 13 question assessment that will help you determine if micro-schools are a good fit for your family. Parents interested in starting their own Micro-School can read more at Microschool Revolution.
“Homeschool” Pods are small groups of 5 – 10 students, usually neighbors, who are sharing the responsibilities of education in their homes. According to a Washington Post article, parents are teaming up with neighbors and forming “pandemic pods.” In some cases, parents are hiring certified teachers to come to their home to teach their children. “It’s a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded.” In another version of the Homeschool Pod, parents take turns supervising and facilitating the school day. In this collaborative effort, 1 parent serves as the supervisor and facilitator 1 day per week. The beauty of this idea is that neighbors are helping neighbors. These are people you know and trust. Plus, if your workplace offers the flexibility of a 4-day work week, you can go back to work. Or, you can also opt to hold your day as the facilitator on the weekend. This will still let you go to work Monday – Friday.
The Importance of Sleep
Yet another advantage of Homeschool Pods is that you decide what time school starts each day. Who says you have to start school at 7:49 am? According to Sleep Advisor, in their article “Sleep & the School Bells: Helping your Kids Cope with Eary Start Times”, school-age children need between 9 – 12 hours of sleep a night. And, consistently getting 8 hours a sleep a night results in fewer auto accidents, better test scores, and improved moods. If you choose to form a Homeschool Pod, you can set the start of your school day that will ensure your child gets enough sleep every night!
Advantages of Homeschool Pods
- Flexible hours and days
- Neighbors helping neighbors
- Short-term or long-term solution
- Parents choose the curriculum that best suits their children
- All children go to school together
- No long bus rides or transportation needed
- No costs or membership required
- Safe learning environment
Disadvantages of Homeschool Pods
- Parents may not feel qualified to be the “teacher” and facilitate learning
- Parents living in rural areas may not be able to coordinate a “pod”
- Choosing the right curriculum can be overwhelming.
- Need to research state homeschool regulations.
3 Step to Choosing the Right School Option
Your school district may be offering options that work well for your family. But if they don’t, consider forming your own Homeschool Pod or becoming a member of an established reputable Micro-School. In either case, you will need to do research to find a curriculum that meets your state’s requirements. Here are 3 steps to help you make the right choice for your child.
1. Check in with your school to verify what they are offering.
Confirm with your school district if online courses are available through your school. Some schools are sending students home with computers or tablets and instructions to log on for instruction online. Many states now offer online courses through free public charter schools such as Connections Academy and K12. These free public charter schools are enrolling students now but may reach their capacity enrollment due to the high demand. However, with this national emergency, they may have re-opened enrollment to accommodate this important need.
2. Research for accredited private online schools.
Research private accredited online schools. Accreditation is key to assuring that the curriculum meets rigorous standards that will transfer back to your school when it re-opens for the next academic year. Additionally, admission to college may depend on graduating from an accredited high school. Look for a school that holds a national and regional accreditation such as Cognia, (formerly AdvancED).
3. Research for online schools with open enrollment.
Research for a private school that has open enrollment – one that enrolls students any time of year. This means that your student will not lose academic progress this academic year, and they will not have to wait until summer school opens.
At Whitmore School, the world’s first online high school, students enroll any time of year. If you have completed the first semester of school with passing grades, you may enroll in the second semester to complete your courses and earn credit that will transfer back to your school. Whitmore School is accredited by Cognia / AdvancED and is holds “A+” rating and accreditation from Better Business Bureau. Click here to read Consumer Affairs verified reviews from Whitmore School parents.
Whitmore School, accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED), offers four Diploma Programs for students wishing to enroll full-time to earn their high school diploma. Additionally, students looking to get back on track to graduate on time, can enroll in individual courses. Students enroll and begin any time, work at their own pace, and may take up to 12 months to complete their courses. Click here to read more about taking individual courses at Whitmore School.
Written by: Ellen Ray, Principal, and parent of Alina, 2009 Whitmore School graduateSee all blog posts