Today the promise of a safe environment for kids to learn with friends is so appealing, thousands of parents have jumped at the opportunity to do something they may never have considered before: creating a new school just for their kids. What many have found is that starting a “microschool” or “pandemic pod” from scratch is complex, to say the least.
From finding a great teacher, to navigating state regulations, to setting expectations among a group of parents, there are many important considerations–and complicated paperwork–that can make the process feel daunting.
At SchoolHouse, we’re making all of this easy for parents, because we believe that microschools can give students what they need to thrive, in a pandemic and beyond. When you sign up to start your own microschool with SchoolHouse, we take care of the hard parts so your kids can start learning with their peers sooner, and you don’t have to worry about them falling behind.
The first step is to form a learning pod with other families in your community. We’ll provide you with all the guidance and tools you need to create a pod with students of similar ages, and parents who share your educational goals and values.
You can sign up for a webinar with other parents to learn about best practices or speak with someone on our team to have all your questions answered. We’ve helped other families find pods that fit their ideals, and we’ll share what we’ve learned to make the process as seamless as possible.
Once you’ve formed a pod, your next step is to decide as a group what type of school you want to create. You can choose to register for a full-time school replacement, or supplement your children’s current curriculum with a part-time enrichment program three days a week.
Depending on your interests, you can hire a teacher with a private, public or charter school background, or try progressive pedagogies like Waldorf or Montessori. You have the opportunity to match your curriculum to your existing school program, or try something new, and you can include special education support or specialized subjects like religious studies, world languages and music.
Once your group is aligned on the structure and curriculum you’d like to follow, you’ll register your pod and pay an initial deposit. At this time, you can also begin working out the logistical details, like choosing a location for your classroom.
Next, in one of the most important steps in the process, you’ll get to choose a teacher to lead your microschool. SchoolHouse vets experienced teachers from a wide range of backgrounds, and chooses only those with the strongest track record and exceptional references.
We’ll send you three of the best-matched teacher profiles, based on your location, student ages, and preferences. More than just a resume, these profiles include a recorded video interview to give you a sense of each teacher’s personality, teaching style and education philosophy.
Your group can then set up a video interview with one or more teachers to ensure you find your ideal fit. Once you make your choice, your group will sign a contract and pay a final deposit, and SchoolHouse will hire your teacher on a one-year contract, and register your school with the state education board on your behalf.
With the biggest questions settled, it’s time to work out the details to ensure a safe and productive learning environment.
SchoolHouse will provide recommendations for standard COVID-19 protocols that meet or exceed state regulations, and you can opt to include additional protocols like daily temperature checks or written health attestations. Your group will agree on a set of requirements for all to follow to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
You’ll also finalize a location for your classroom at one of your homes or a space in your community. Before school starts, we’ll schedule an in-home visit or Zoom meeting to help you make sure that your space has all the qualities of an enriching classroom environment, like good lighting and ventilation, and accessibility for all.
SchoolHouse will send all the supplies your teacher will need to create an inspiring classroom, and each of the parents will be responsible for stocking up on school supplies and books for their own kids. Finally, your group will agree on details including your weekly schedule and how snacks and lunches will be provided.
At this point, your teacher will have completed a thorough on-boarding process, including a robust professional development program, a virtual teacher’s conference, meetings with curriculum experts, and training for COVID-19 protocols.
Before the first day of classes, your teacher will reach out to you to arrange a virtual meet and greet with the parents in your group. This will give you an opportunity to make sure everyone is aligned on rules and expectations. Your teacher will also be able to ask questions to ensure you and your students are prepared for the first day of school.
Most microschools are ready to begin classes within 4-6 weeks of forming a pod. Whatever assistance you need, we’ll be there to help you create your dream school for your children, with a teacher who is passionate about helping them grow.
Do you have questions about starting a microschool? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.