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Back to School Options Decoded

Updated: Aug 10


If you’re like us, the sheer volume of information coming out about education options this fall is probably making your head spin. Instead of pouring through reams of articles or Facebook posts - check out this infographic, which breaks down the primary options for most people with school age kids. It also has some general guidelines on how many families would be in this arrangement, who would teach, and what that might mean in terms of overall interactions.

Please note that we understand many families don’t have the option/luxury to have their child stays and receives their education at home, especially if both parents are working outside of home. However, since most US schools are now announcing a 100% virtual or a hybrid (i.e. a mix of virtual and in-person learning) start, these are the options that you will most likely have.

The first decision you’ll likely make is whether you want a home learning environment or an out of home learning environment, so we’ve split up the options along these lines.

We’ll have more details on each of these options in upcoming posts!

In a Home Environment:

Option 1: Homeschool (no other families) - This is the most insular option.


The upside:

· Limited to no risk of transmission (only risk will be if you hire an in-person tutor/teacaher)

· No coordination with other families needed

· Have full authority in deciding the curriculum/materials you want to use


The downside:

· Lack of social interaction for your child

· If both parents work, might make it difficult to juggle your workload and teaching your child, especially if you decide not to hire a tutor

· If you decide to hire a tutor you will need to absorb the full cost

Option 2: Homeschool pods - These are becoming the topic of much conversation (both positive and negative) as you’ve probably seen in the media. Pods can form in many sizes - but we’ve listed 2-3 families here because experts do recommend keeping pods small to contain the spread of the virus that shall not be named. One parent can teach, parents can rotate teaching, or they can hire a tutor and split the costs.


The upside:

· Increasingly popular way for families to address the socialization challenge

· Spreads the time and cost associated with schooling across a few families.


The downside:

· Higher risk vs. homeschooling at home with just your family

· Coordination and alignment with other families takes time and effort

Out of Home Environment

We understand homeschooling isn’t a viable option for many families. If that’s the case there are two primary options on the table - microschooling and virtual education support programs hosted at private schools or daycare primarily.

Option 1: Microschooling – It’s similar to a homeschooling pod, though typically is a bit larger in size and traditionally hosted in an out-of-home setting due to the larger class size with a certified teacher (though with the pandemic some microschools are moving in home). The concept is on that’s been around for ages (think the one room schoolhouse in Avonlea from Anne of Green Gables), but has recently gained popularity. The other nuance is that because it’s a slightly larger form of a pod, you may have mixed ages groups - which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.


The upside:

· Increasingly popular way for families to address the socialization challenge

· Spreads the time and cost associated with schooling across more families.

· (Usually) provides more structure and formal instruction than homeschool pods

The downside:

· Higher risk of transmission than the two in home options mentioned above (unless in-home and very small, in which case it’ll function more like a homeschooling pod)

· May need to invest more time in finding the right teacher and a suitable location

Option 2: Virtual Learning or Distance Learning Support

This is a new program to help students take their virtual learning classes on-site at a preschools, daycare or similar childcare/educational setting. They have the required licenses, infrastructure, and staff to get a program growing quickly. Many of these schools are opening their doors to school age children, supporting them with a supervised classroom where they can take their virtual lessons using their own devices (e.g. a laptop or ipad with headphones) and have enrichment activities with other children once lessons are over. If you’re interested in this, please check out the virtual ed support options that we’ve curated in your area.

The upside:

· Addresses the socialization challenge

· Provides a reliable option for parents who need out of home schooling (since these school are already operating their regular programs)

· Many programs offer extended hours, which can be a huge boon for working parents

· Enrichment programs and other facilities (such as playgrounds) help keep children occupied outside instruction hours

The downside:

· Some places only offer supervision, but not actual teachers. So your child may need to self-direct his/her own learnings to some extent

· Classes typically have a mix of children from various different grades and schools

· Higher risk than the two in home options mentioned above, and possibly the microschool as well, depending on if there is any contact between children in the virtual support classroom and the other regular classrooms.

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