Microschool and Learning Pod Terminology You Need To Know
Updated: Aug 20
The trending solution for virtual classrooms among parents is the idea of at-home school.
It’s a great solution for parents who have full-time jobs and can’t afford the time to homeschool or provide hands-on teaching. It’s also for children who aren’t learning well virtually.
At-home schooling has various approaches and different names to describe them.
Below, you’ll find the most common types of schooling pods, how they relate to regular schools, and what kind of administration they might use. The exact details can vary depending on participating families’ educational choices and/or needs.
Remember, there’s no wrong or right way to conduct a learning pod. It’s up to you!
types of pods
Schooling pods are a moving target, with definitions changing and evolving as quickly as CDC guidelines. A helpful Facebook group, Pandemic Pods - Main, formed by parents has provided excellent explanations and definitions:
Remote Learning Pod
The remote learning pod is geared towards grade-school aged children who still attend virtual classes and complete work from their regular school. The pod compliments virtual instruction by providing supervision, technical support, and socialization.
Children in each learning pod can be all in the same class or school or a mix.
Alternatively, the pod can be coupled with a stand-alone online learning platform or a similar solution that families arrange. This combination is used instead of a regular grade school.
Learning pods can help ensure that children stay engaged in their virtual classes while also interacting with peers for social development.
Nanny share is more for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and is similar to how nanny shares functioned before the pandemic. Caregivers would care for 2 or more different families, either simultaneously or at different times of the week.
The caregiver can be a nanny, a preschool teacher, or a stay-at-home parent caring for their child in addition to other children.
Nanny share is often used instead of a normal daycare or preschool program but families can still use it together with a school’s virtual offerings such as Zoom meetings with the children’s regular classmates.
Some families also have part-time nanny share complemented by part-time participation at an in-person preschool.
Microschools tend to be larger and more formal with licensed educators who provide personalized instruction through a curriculum to meet the needs of each child. For younger children, microschools may look similar to pre-pandemic preschools.
These programs may require a license, depending on what state you live in, the children’s ages, and the number of children.
Microschools are often used instead of participation in a regular school. But some families still keep their child’s enrollment while supplementing regular instruction with a microschool-type arrangement.
Hybrid pods include aspects of multiple pod types.
Some families might have designated remote learning in the morning with a playdate pod occurring with other parents later in the afternoon.
Other families might be participating in a microschool but also have someone for learning pod supervision during their children’s virtual classes.
how are pods set up?
Pod organizations and administration generally fall under 4 categories.
Families can work together to manage all arrangements. If they were hiring a teacher, then they would have to draft a contract, get an employer ID number, run employee payroll, and withhold taxes. Families would be responsible for all liability issues and insurance if a teacher gets injured while working.
They also establish their own health protocols. This can include families’ social distancing practices outside of school time.
If parents are fulfilling pod duties, they can trade off duties without exchanging money. A stay-at-home or homeschooling parent may also be paid to take on one or more children.
Family-led pods mean that families choose which other families can join.
Teachers may run their own small programs with established curriculums and policies. They invite families to enroll at set rates and provide a contract for families to review.
Health protocols are limited to local public health recommendations for schools and do not include any practices outside of school time.
Many arrangements involve a hybrid of leadership. Families can connect with a teacher and then search together for additional families. They would also work together to establish agreements.
Teacher-led pods may also be highly responsive to family needs and preferences to create a mutual agreement between everyone.
Families interested in reducing administrative responsibilities and hiring a California credentialed teacher can work with an established educational staffing company.
You can request teachers from companies like Scoot that has 15+ years of experience connecting high-quality educators with schools across California.
Scoot at Home connects you with extensively screened and experienced educators. All educators have passed a CA DOJ & FBI criminal background check with ongoing monitoring.
Families choose which educator(s) they like and Scoot handles the contracts, health protocols, payment, liability insurance, workers’ compensation, etc. You mainly need to worry about whether the educator is a good fit for your family.
Setting up the best pod arrangement for your child’s social, emotional, and academic development can be stressful.
But as a parent, you’re resilient and capable of handling this challenge like all the others you’ve had. Parents are superheroes after all!
After assessing different types of pods and choosing the best educators - whether, through your own search or networks like Scoot - you’ll ensure that both you and your child have a great start to the new virtual school year.
You’ve got this! *High five*