There’s no escaping it. This school year is going to be challenging. And it’s right around the corner.
No matter what your specific school district decides, there’ll likely be educational holes that need to be filled. It’s an unprecedented time that has many parents scrambling to figure out the best strategy for the upcoming school year.
When schools abruptly shuttered in the Spring, many parents took it on the chin and reasoned, “It’s only a few weeks of less than ideal schooling,” and made do. As the new school year approaches with little progress containing the virus, it’s clear that parents need to pull together a real education plan—and fast. All parents are between a rock and a hard place right now.
Enter: Pandemic Pods
Why a Pandemic Pod For School?
It’s a home-schooling hybrid that builds a bridge for families navigating the current school ecosystem currently reeling from COVID-19. Similar to the wave of Family Pods or Quarantine Bubbles, a Schooling Pod pulls together collective resources to address the new hurdles COVID has presented for families with school-aged kids. Summer Pods were in response to isolation. School Pods, often referenced as micro-schools, go a step further by incorporating education into the socialization mix.
In the middle of the sudden shut-down, parents didn’t have much of a choice but to forge the new world of remote learning alone. It wasn’t easy. Parents began to fray trying to fill one too many roles in their children’s lives. The kid’s struggled too. They missed their teachers and their peers. The community part of the school is at the heart of what makes school work. By forming a Schooling Pod, families are not only bringing together their collective resources (time, skills, money), they’re also reforming the essential components of a school community in the face of a pandemic.
How To Form a Schooling Pod
Just like with Quarantine Pods, over-communication and aligned viewpoints are critical. That said, Schooling Pods or micro-schools will need to be formed with even more intention and consideration, mainly for kid’s ages and educational levels. Start by proactively reaching out to your circles to see who would be interested in forming an educational co-op for the school year. Places to look include:
- Your School Community Group
- Neighborhood Association Groups
- Local Parenting Groups
- Child Activity Groups
- Church Groups
Always start with an open dialogue and discussion to gauge if it’s a good fit. This is a completely new situation for everyone and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all. The first step is starting the conversation, sooner rather than later.
Things to Consider When Forming a Schooling Pod
That initial conversation needs to be thorough so everyone involved can be on the same page from the very beginning as families build a new system together. Consider setting a focused agenda like the following:
Desired Goals of Forming a Pod
What’s the #1 thing you want to get out of forming a pod? Is it elevated education? Is it supplemental social development? Is it simply to support remote learning?
Grade Specific Needs
What level are the children involved at? Are there certain areas that need more focus? Are there multiple age groups?
Incorporating School Resources
Will you be participating in any virtual or in-person sessions? Do you want to follow state/federal school guidelines/curriculums or consider building your own?
What can you bring to the Pod? Time, Money, Space, Skills? Be realistic.
What are the hygiene and social distancing practices you should address when considering expanding your bubble for any reason?
Additionally, you need to have clear plans for if anyone in the pod is exposed.
Hiring Support for Your Schooling Pod
Remember, you can hire someone to support your Schooling Pod. Outsourcing someone to fill in the teacher/tutor role can be an excellent option for working families. Working parents might not be able to commit time to educate the kids fully themselves but can pool their resources together to hire someone. Using a platform like Sittercity allows parents to customize what they’re looking for.
Post a job that outlines pod specifics that have been discussed like:
Number of Kids Involved and Their Ages
How many kids a child care professional can manage depends on their experience and personal comfort level. Additionally, the CDC recommends limiting class size to groups of 10 or fewer.
Your Ideal Schedule
Will it be full-time in-homeschooling? Part-time to cover the days the kids aren’t in their physical classrooms? Will it be just a few hours to supplement virtual learning?
Call Out Specific Educational Requirements
Do you need a subject-specific tutor? Someone with teaching experience or a degree in educational development?
Set a Competitive Rate
Pooling together your monetary resources gives more room to offer a competitive rate that will attract the best talent. Remember, more kids = more compensation.
There are a lot of unknowns and variables at play. But there’s also certainty in the fact that humans are incredibly adaptable. Parents have a lot on their plate, but support is out there. It’ll just require most of us to think outside the box, lean on the village, and call in help when we can.
We’re still in this together.