As the school year approaches, parents and children are left with a great deal of uncertainty. As schools determine how they will re-open many parents are seeking alternative solutions to educate their kids safely. A new trend gaining popularity among parents? Micropod learning.
What Is Micropod Learning?
As the new school year approaches, more and more schools have announced their intention to continue with virtual learning for the immediate future. In response, many parents have decided to take their children’s education into their own hands with the help of homeschooling. However, after the abrupt closures of the last school year, parents realized that they needed help with creating a consistent schedule, and a structure that kept their kids occupied, challenged, and possibly allowed their children to socialize.
Enter the world of micropods — and they are becoming quite popular.
Also called “pandemic pods,” a micropod is a group of parents that pool their resources to hire a teacher who can teach a small group of children a specific curriculum inside a family’s home. It’s school, just at a smaller scale and in a different environment. Like with bubble families, if everyone follows the agreement to limit their exposure to people outside of the pod, it also reduces the chance of spreading the coronavirus or allows for contact tracing if someone catches it.
Micropods have become especially prevalent in affluent areas where parents have the resources and want their children’s education to continue on as “normally” as possible. There are now companies like Schoolhouse and Selected For Families that will even help pair groups of families with teachers. Some private schools have even recognized the need and are willing to help organize home-based pods and manage the teaching staff.
Since home-based instruction is typically shorter than a regular school day, many families are hoping to supplement their micropods with a college-aged nanny or babysitter so parents and students can have a full day school experience. Elyssa Katz, a California mother of three has even started a business pairing “Zutors” with families. “The role of a Zutor is a tutor, a nanny, and an angel for a parent,” Katz told the Guardian. In this case, a Zutor helps children work through their online curriculum, provides outdoor activities when it’s time for “recess,” and generally takes on caring for children while parents are working.
Homeschooling was previously regarded as a much less mainstream alternative to education, but that’s all changed thanks to Coronavirus. According to Real Clear Education, a survey asked more than 600 parents what their likelihood would be to continue some alternative form of schooling after this year’s lockdown, and 40% said they would consider homeschooling. That number represented a diverse group –36.3% of whites said they were more likely to choose to homeschool, and 38.2% of Hispanics indicated that they would choose to educate their kids at home. The number was much higher for blacks (50.4%) and Asian Americans (53.8%).
The Trouble with Micropod Learning
While micropods seem like a great way to bring like-minded families together, many worry that they will only be attainable for the affluent, thus creating a greater divide in education. Schools may suffer as well. Public schools are funded based on the number of students that attend, so if students leave en masse for homeschooling, the resources schools currently have available will be significantly decreased.
Many families are trying to take what they learned last spring and create a better experience for both students and parents. Whether it be through a micropod, private tutor, or a co-op of parents who take on the challenge, it’s clear that parents are seeking alternative solutions to educating their kids through this pandemic.