Should your children stay home and miss out on in-person instruction? Many parents, students, and teachers are on edge at the start of the school year amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Many fear the added exposure of mingling with dozens or potentially hundreds of students a day will not only risk their children's health, but other family members as well. Adding to the stress, parents are concerned their children's education has already suffered from the digital learning experience and they are looking for solutions. An excellent alternative is to consider a small group "learning pod". According to a recent study by the New York Times, the risks of exposure to the virus are significantly lower in a small group or "pod" while the student maintains a high quality, teacher-led education.
If you have attempted to form your own learning pod, you may find the task is overwhelming in trying to find a safe environment, research quality instructors, and gather the right mix of students in the same age group and skill sets as your own child. Learning pods, also described on Facebook as microschools, homeschool pods or pandemic pods, are a great alternative if you follow the right guidelines and have the right resources.
iLearn Academy's Learning Pod. We take the work out of finding tutors by hiring certified and highly experienced teachers, offer a very *safe and clean academic environment, and teach students with similar skills in a private or small group setting. Students can bring their laptops to our center during school hours led by an in-person teacher that will support students' learning while taking the school's online teaching so that the student remains focused and on-task. Another option is for students to come to our center afterschool and receive additional instruction or homework help in subjects such as math and English. We can also offer test prep courses such as PSAT 8/9 and ACT/SAT. Parents can bring a group of two to four students and we will differentiate our instruction based on each individual's skill. We can also offer an interactive and live online session with a more personalized lesson plan versus the school's online sessions. We will support students to master their learning with our experienced teachers and effective teaching methods.
If you decide to create your own learning pod, here are the top three crucial steps to consider:
1. Find Quality Instructors. One benefit of the at-school experience is the multitude of teachers that are available and disciplined in a specific subject, and experienced instructing at a particular grade level. Attempting to re-create the at-school experience is difficult: tutors may not have the broad skill sets to cover multiple subjects let alone follow a grade appropriate curriculum. It can also be time consuming and hard to find multiple teachers that can fit into your small group's schedule. In addition, parents often times lack the right assessment tools needed to confirm the teacher is doing a great job or meeting the minimum state standards. You might be able to follow the school's curriculum, though be cautious as the tutor has a tendency of using their own materials and will likely not have enough exposure to the school's materials to teach effectively. Nevertheless, below are a few questions you should ask the tutor in the interview process:
2. Create a Safe, Centralized Location. Some families have opted to gather at a particular home or rotate from one home to the next. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), offers a helpful checklist for virtual or at home learning. This includes the usual advice on frequent hand washing, social distancing, and face masks in addition to guidelines on social-emotional wellbeing of group instruction. By keeping a centralized location, an academic environment can be created using a systematic approach to cleanliness and a consistency with group activities and exercise between lessons. Of course, someone needs to enforce each person attending the group will follow the safety guidelines.
3. Gather Similar Students. One of the bigger challenges facing small group learning pods is finding the right mix of students with the same skill sets. One of your child's peers may be very good in math but weak in English. Unless the teacher is adept at handling a wide range of skill sets, this may limit your son or daughter's ability to excel in a particular subject.
One of the most effective means of creating a learning pod is to join a local learning center that offers small group or in-person sessions. This alleviates the need to find and locate teachers as the centers have already vetted and trained the teachers.
iLearn Academy offers small group or private instruction to support the local school 's online learning and helps students improve even further so that they may learn beyond their grade level skills.
Please give us a call today at 1-847-834-0791 to get started right away: Seats are limited.
*iLearn Academy requires everyone entering the building to have a daily temperature check, wear masks or shields, and we disinfect the rooms after every lesson. We also limit the total number of staff and students to 18 people in our 2,500 square foot facility at any given time so we can maintain proper social distancing.