Podding Best Practices

The pod frenzy is in full-swing!

If you’re not familiar with what a pod is, you’re not alone. Googling ‘what is a pod’ will give you irrelevant information, but ‘what is a pandemic pod’ will give you an idea of what’s been keeping most parents busy these days.

A school "pod" or "bubble" is typically a group of three or more children who learn together under the care of the children’s parents or a tutor/teacher. The learning typically takes place in one home (or a rotation), though in some cases it can be an outside venue. Pods can be a great option if you would like your child to learn in a small group setting vs. alone or in a larger group setting. It can also be a cost-effective solution if you’re looking to hire a tutor or teacher and split the cost.

Pods may be a happy balance of sanity and safety for many families!

And while folks may want to just jump in, there are some important things to keep in mind as you begin to form pods.

1) Remember safety first!

Try to form pods first with people you know and trust around your child's age and ideally in your child's class or school - which makes coordination easier and safer. If your first degree connection doesn't yield a pod, expand to friends of friends and your child's classmates' parents (who you may not know as well). A second degree connection is likely better than a perfect stranger. If that doesn't pan out, expand your search to a general area - it may include children from different schools, just be careful and use your judgement. Try to avoid posting sensitive information (such as addresses/kids details) on public forums. Circulate the information via a more private channel, among a select group of parents instead.

Use our free ‘Pod Organizer’ tool to help you form a pod.

2) Balance Cost Savings with Safety Risks

It's tempting to add more people to the pod to reduce costs. However, experts recommend limiting pods to 2-3 families. And don't form multiple pods for different activities. Obviously, the larger the pod is or the more pods you are in, the more potential exposure you'll have to the virus. This is why it’s important to make sure that other members of your pod share the same social distancing definition, which brings us to our third point.

3) Ask the right questions

There are a lot of factors beyond just proximity, school and grade level that can make or break a successful pod. Things like the other family's social distancing practice and presence of elderly or healthcare workers in the household should also be considered. And don't forget non coronavirus considerations - like pet allergies or even the presence of guns in the household. Our Pod Organizer tool is a good start and you can amend it to suit your needs.

4) Align on social distancing definition

When you form a pod it's critical that everyone is aligned with the social distancing practices by each member of the pod. Tell the truth and be upfront with other members of the pod. If you dine-in at restaurants regularly - don't deny it to save face. Long-term it's going to be better and safer to connect with families who share a similar perspective.

5) Discuss the details upfront

Are you getting a tutor or taking turns hosting the days yourself, are you hosting at home or looking for another space, are the kids bringing their own meals, what happens if someone wants to leave a pod and you've hired a teacher and are splitting the costs? These are all questions you should discuss and align on upfront to make for a smoother ride.

6) Take your time

You don’t have to rush. It's a pandemic and everyone wants to figure it out. But classroom lists may not have come out. It may behoove families (especially of Kindergartners or those new to a school) to hold off on forming pods until after school has started. This will help you determine potential podmates – for example, classmates who will have the same off-days as your children if your school is doing a staggered launch. If your child’s school is opting for an all virtual approach, forming a pod will help them form bonds with kids who will later be in their class, so the start of "real" school won't be as scary.

Hopefully, by taking all of the steps above, you will have a pod that’s beneficial for you and your child. However, if a pod is not working, don’t lose hope! The first step is to try and resolve any issues directly. But if the kids really aren't getting along or something else is not right in the situation, it may be time to leave the pod. And obviously, if there is anything dangerous or illegal happening, go to the appropriate authorities. The children's well-being is always paramount.

Once you’re ready to get started, use our free Pod Organizer tool to help you form your pod.

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