There are more education options today than ever before. As homeschooling continues to grow in popularity across the country, there’s one form of homeschooling that keeps drawing attention–microschools. We’ll cover everything you need to know so you can choose the right microschool for your child’s education.
What is a microschool?
Microschools are very small, often one-classroom school settings that offer schooling for around 10 children at most. Microschools usually have a mix of students from different grade levels. Curriculum varies by student, with parents choosing materials suited to their child’s learning style and personality.
Some microschools operate through an academy or company, and others are formed by parents. Some microschools use paid teachers or tutors, while others have guides or coaches that oversee the students and answer questions.
What should you consider when choosing a microschool?
Here are some factors and questions to consider if you’re thinking about a microschool:
- Where and when do classes happen? Classes can take place anywhere and anytime. School can take place at a family’s house, at a guide’s or instructor’s home, or even a room at a church or library. They can be outdoors if it’s a nice day. Some microschools utilize a five-day school week; others condense school into just a few days during the week.
- What’s the benefit of using a microschool company? Microschool companies can help you locate or even start your own microschool. Most of these companies perform background and reference checks on their teachers and learning guides, providing peace of mind for parents. Some companies don’t run the actual schools–they just provide equipment, curriculum, supplies, and support. Costs vary depending on which microschool company you choose. But you could be looking at up to several hundred dollars per month, per child.
- What does a typical microschool classroom look like? There really is no typical microschool classroom. Many microschools mix and match children of different ages, though some keep the groups within the same age range. Microschools usually have fewer than 10 students. Depending on the curriculum or learning format, students might spend their time learning online, doing hands-on projects and activities, or more traditional textbook-based school work.
- Who does the teaching? It may surprise you to learn that sometimes there is no teacher. While some microschools contribute money to pay for a certified teacher or tutor who does more live instruction, some believe that the child should take control of and personalize their learning. In this type of microschool, a parent or small group of parents will supervise and help when necessary. Others might bring in a “learning guide” who monitors the students and answers questions.
- What type of curriculum is used? A big advantage of microschool (and homeschooling in general) is that you can choose the right curriculum for your child. Some microschools may not require much in the way of curriculum, choosing instead to use project-based instruction. If you’re joining a microschool through a company or academy, they may provide the curriculum. Some microschools may opt to follow their school district’s curriculum. Some groups might pool money together and purchase curriculum as a group. Or you may need to purchase through an academy, reseller, or homeschool curriculum publisher directly.
What are the benefits of a microschool?
- As previously mentioned, many microschools offer classrooms with children of different ages and grade levels, allowing them to interact and learn more about each other. This also provides the older students a chance to serve as a mentor to the younger children.
- Microschools generally do not need to attach themselves to public schools. This means that students aren’t required to take standardized tests or study from the mandatory curriculum that public schools use. Some microschools, however, are regulated by states the same way that virtual or online schools are and must use the same standards as state charter or online schools. Check your state’s laws surrounding microschools and homeschooling because there may be some requirements that need to be met to have your child attend a microschool.
- At most microschools, parents can personalize the curriculum to their child’s strengths, setting them up for success in the classroom. At Bridgeway, we have each prospective student take a learning style assessment to determine what type of learner they are and which curriculum would be the best fit.
- Some microschools allow students to learn exclusively through hands-on, project-based activities. This type of learning encourages engagement among students, especially those whose learning style leans toward kinesthetic.
- There are socialization opportunities. We’ve debunked the myth that “homeschoolers don’t socialize”, but since multiple children are in a microschool classroom, it organically leads to socialization. Not just among students, but among the parents and families.
What are the drawbacks of microschools?
As with any type of schooling, there are positives and negatives. Here are a few of the potential negatives.
- Microschools can be expensive, especially if the group you join plans on hiring a teacher or tutor. Paid instructors can be costly (and understandably so), and not every family can afford the cost. Same with curriculum–if the group as a whole buys curriculum, you’ll need to pay your share, and that might be more than you want to spend.
- One benefit might also be a drawback–the lack of rules or a governing body monitoring the microschool. This may not be an issue for some families, but others may not feel comfortable with the curriculum choices, no formal testing, or the overall direction of the school. It’s important to look into what each microschool offers.
- There also may be some discomfort with the lack of a formal teacher in the classroom. Some microschools do not provide licensed teachers. But others use a proctor to simply watch over the students, make sure they’re doing their work, and answer any questions. Remember, these are not licensed teachers. And while it’s true that many homeschool parents don’t have formal teaching experience, most homeschoolers follow curriculum guidelines and instructor materials. Not all microschools do this.
- The safety and welfare of your children could be a concern. Unless you know everyone in your microschool well, your child may be in the homes of unfamiliar people. This shouldn’t stop you from placing your child in a microschool, but you should research the group you plan on joining. Fortunately, some microschool academies require the same background checks that public school teachers are subject to, which can offer some peace of mind.
How Bridgeway Academy can help
Bridgeway is an accredited homeschool academy that provides plenty of choices for families who want to try something new. We’re proud to offer microschoolers, temporary homeschoolers, and independent educators a wide range of affordable, high-quality programs.
If you’re curious about launching your own microschool, we can help! By creating a microschool powered by Edovate (the parent company of Bridgeway), you can get started with a powerful and experienced partner with decades of experience, trusted resources, and the ability to provide top-quality accredited education options. Learn more about launching a microschool powered by Edovate here.
To learn more about Bridgeway’s programs, and to find out how we can help you with microschooling, contact us today at (800) 863-1474.