Micro Schools AKA Pandemic Pods

Our World is Reeling

Our world is reeling from fallout of the pandemic, the effects of which will ripple for years to come. We are rethinking how we work, shop, dine, socialize, play, travel, exercise, and educate our youth. Schools created distance learning programs to get through the pandemic, forcing parents to be in-home educators. Adding more responsibility to an already stressed-out population was the tipping point for many. Parents began looking for affordable options, additional support, and extra resources to ease the burden of in-home education. One option that has been gaining popularity is micro schools.

One Room Schoolhouse Meets Blended Learning

“Micro-school” is a broad term used to describe small neighborhood schools that usually enroll fewer than 10 children. In the age of COVID-19, many parents are taking the micro-school approach into their own hands and creating “pandemic pods. A micro school is a combination of private, blended, and at-home schooling that meets the needs of individual students. It is personalized education at a lower cost than traditional private schools. Michael Horn described it as “think one-room schoolhouse meets blended learning and home schooling meets private schooling”. Some key characteristics are:

            * Small group/class size

            * Learner-directed experiences are the key focus

            * Heavy emphasis on digital and project-based learning

            * Education is highly personalized

            * Parents play a key role, but paid teachers are a key component

History of Micro Schools

What we do know is that these micro schooling concepts began to appear in the 2007-10 timeframe.  Some trace the roots to the UK, where people began applying the term “micro school” to small, independent and privately funded schools that met for no more than two days a week.  Early examples in the US include Acton Academy and Quantum Camp, but in the past five years AltSchool and Prenda have brought further definition and attention with their launches and by raising venture capital for their companies (AltSchool raised $33M in 2015 and has subsequently raised a total of $176M over 8 rounds).

In the News

This idea has been popular among home school groups and school choice circles but is now gaining mainstream excitement. Recently, stories on micro schooling have been featured in the following:

It is apparent that change in education is needed. Families crave options, and micro schools prove to be a very valid choice. There are plenty of resources with information on micro schools and instructions on how to start one.  To begin, it is imperative to check your state policies in regard to homeschooling. Every state has different requirements. (Click here for a quick reference guide.)

Online Provider

As you begin the planning of your micro school, it is important to note that an online curriculum provider, like ADVANTAGES School International, can make the process easy. With a partner like ASI, content is available for personalization, teachers are on standby for subjects parents are not comfortable teaching, and a student information system is at the ready for student transcripts and record keeping.

“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.”

— Brené Brown

There is support and guidance available to families interested in micro schooling. Contact the experts at ASI for a consultation.

This blog post was provided by Allison Dampier, President/Founder at ADVANTAGES Digital Learning Solutions.