Ugh. The start of school has been….rough and I am filled with anxiety about the next couple of months. How can the husband and I best support our 5 year old and 12 year old as they learn remotely? What can we do to make sure they don’t “fall behind”?
We’re less worried about academics for our 5 year old as he is just entering kindergarten (although we do worry about the lack of socialization with his peers). Our biggest concern is for our 12 year old who is entering seventh grade this year and struggled greatly with remote learning in the spring. Neither of us are teachers and we learned last spring that remote learning requires more than a babysitter – our kids need someone who can help them when they don’t understand something, someone who can explain a lesson in a different way, someone who understands Common Core math.
Fortunately, our nanny is a former teacher and has agreed to work with our 5 and 12 year old to support them academically.
If your family doesn’t have the option of using your current nanny for academic support, I STRONGLY encourage you to consider setting up or joining a microschool (or what some call a learning pod).
First, let’s get this out of the way….your family probably can afford to join a microschool.
When we launched our Learning Guide© Service this past July, I spoke with many parents who felt that they couldn’t afford to hire someone to help their children learn. I totally hear that because our family is in the same boat – we don’t have the income to support bringing in a tutor to exclusively work with our children.
Most tutors (and Learning Guides©) are looking for anywhere from $25 to $75/hour. I get it. They need to live, pay their mortgage and put food on the table. I know that they will earn every penny of their pay because teaching is not for the faint of heart!
But if your family is like mine, there is no way that we can afford an extra $500-$1,000/week to bring someone into our home to teach our kids.
What if I told you your children could receive in person academic support PLUS be able to socialize with their peers for about 20 hours/week? And what if I told you this would only cost your family around $200 a week (or about $10 an hour)?
With a microschool, this is totally possible! Here’s how to do it:
Step #1: Join A Microschool Or Start Your Own?
The first step is to decide if you would like to join an already established microschool or start your own. Yes, there are many families looking for other families to join their microschool. The best place to find these families is in Facebook groups such as Seattle Nanny Parent Connection, 405/Eastside Nanny Parent Connection, Parents in Magnolia, Ballard & Queen Anne, and Seattle Microschool Connection.
The two most important things to remember are:
- Make sure that all of the children in the microschool are about the same age (ex. 4 to 6 years old or 7 to 9 years old).
- Join a microschool that is near you so that transportation doesn’t become a problem.
Microschools are usually based out of one family’s home (or basement, garage, or even a treehouse (yes, I know of microschool that will be operating out of a treehouse!). If you have an available space (preferably with lots of ventilation or even outdoors), consider starting your own microschool with other parents in your neighborhood. You can find them through the Facebook groups I listed above.
We’re hearing about microschools that range from two children all the way up to eight children. To keep thing simple, you might want to limit attendance to about five children.
Step #2: Choose A “Focus”
If you want to join an already established microschool, look around as there are many different types of microschools out there. Some are pretty straightforward…provide in person support as the children work through the curriculum provided by their school. But depending on your children’s interests be on the look out for microschools with a nature focus, art focus, or even LEGO building focus.
Jump on the phone or a Zoom call with the other parents in the microschool and ask questions! Make sure that the format, hours, and focus will fit well for you and your children. Same deal if you are starting your own microschool. Consider putting together a “mission statement” to guide how the microschool will operate.
Step #3: Hire A Learning Guide
If you are joining an established microschool, they probably already have a teacher, tutor, or Learning Guide hired and ready to go. If not, or if you are starting your own microschool, start looking as soon as possible for that special individual that will provide the daily academic support for the children.
We have heard from some families that they want to find a college or high school student to work with their children, but we’ve found that students have their own class schedules to manage and may be in living situations that don’t align with your family’s COVID-19 safety standards.
Through our Learning Guide© Service, our team is finding that it takes about two to four weeks to find the right fit for a microschool so give yourself plenty of time!
If you decide to find a teacher or tutor on your own, prepare for a lengthy and grueling search. Many experienced educators that are interested in providing academic support to microschools in our area have already been snatched up. Consider asking all parents in your microschool to reach out to their networks to see if they know of any promising people who might be interested.
Or reach out to the head of our Learning Guide team, Susanna Williams.
Susanna is a former teacher and school administrator…who better to find an excellent educator for your microschool than an actual teacher!
She is responsible for matching microschools with the Learning Guide that best fits the childrens’ ages and interests.
So far, Susanna and her team have successfully matched 94% of the microschools they are working with!
How much this is going to cost your family?
Currently, most teachers, tutors and Learning Guides that our team is working with are charging anywhere from $25 to $65/hour to provide in-home academic support.
But with a microschool, this pay rate is split among all of the families similar to how a nanny share works. Check out the examples below:
Not convinced? Below are two actual examples of microschools where we have placed a Learning Guide in the past couple of weeks:
Sylvia is an experienced classroom teacher who misses working with kids in person. She began substitute teaching when she returned to Seattle after teaching in South Korea, but then the pandemic hit and now she is excited to start working as a Learning Guide. Her rate is $60/hour – she has seven years of experience working in classrooms and has a master’s degree in education from Seattle Pacific University. Three families with six 1st, 2nd, and 4th graders are introduced to Sylvia and they love her. Each family pays $20/hour and their kids get to enjoy learning together under Sylvia’s guidance. On their first day together, she leads them on a nature walk through their neighborhood and the kids are thrilled to discover baby rabbits under a neighbor’s shrubs. They return to the classroom and brainstorm all the things they know and want to know about rabbits. The kids can’t wait to return the next day.
Is that worth $20/hour for you?
Jose grew up in Los Angeles. Jose is fluent in Spanish – his family emigrated from Mexico – and he majored in geology because he wanted to know more about the earthquakes in LA. Jose moved to Seattle with some friends he met rock climbing and got a museum educator job at the Pacific Science Center. Then the pandemic happened. He decided to become a Learning Guide. His rate is $40/hour. The 2nd & 3rd graders in his microschool are learning the Spanish words for the geography of Seattle and learning to read maps to identify fault lines. They’re talking about earthquake preparedness and safety protocols. Jose is planning to surprise the kids by making them Junior Geologist badges at the end of November. There are five kids in the microschool. Each family is paying $8/hour.
Is this worth $8/hour for you?
Microschools are a new way of thinking about learning beyond school walls. We are really excited about this approach to learning because it allows families to afford the support you need while ensuring that educators earn a living wage.
Susanna would love to help you connect with a great Learning Guide for your kids or discuss microschools further. Contact her today by clicking here!