Pandemic Pods Are Here, Are You In?

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: August 18, 2022

If you’ve stumbled into an education conversation or joined a parent discussion group recently, you’ve surely heard of pods or micro-schools. As families grapple with a changing education environment, some hope to find the flexibility, safety, and community they desire in small, local learning arrangements called learning pods. Whether you have your heart set on joining a pod or just want to better understand education choices for your child, we’ve broken down all types of pandemic pods here.

What you need to know about learning pods and micro-schools

 

 

What’s a Pandemic Pod?

Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept, one that is pretty easy to understand: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Usually, pods are formed when families in a neighborhood or vicinity bring children similar in age together. If you’re considering starting your own pod, read on to find out the different types you can choose from and the factors to consider for each.

Regardless of the type you choose, parents and students in a learning pod have significant flexibility. Based on the needs of the community it serves, a pod may gather for just 10-20 hours a week or only certain days. Families may work independently the remainder of the time.

Why pods? Interest in pods spiked during the pandemic. In pods, families found an education environment where their children could learn and socialize with fewer health and safety concerns. For many, pods seem like a way to both prioritize safety and engage in much-needed in-person learning and community. In fact, the Chicago Tribune described pods as Equal parts traditional homeschooling and Mary Poppins-style nurturing — with a COVID-19 sheltering-in-place twist.”

Whether you have your heart set on joining a pod or just want to better understand education choices for your child, @SchoolChoiceWk has broken down all types of pods here. Click To Tweet

While many families discovered pods during the pandemic, some are sticking with it! Beyond health concerns, learning pods also offer the potential for extreme personalization. They’ve often been described as the modern version of a one-room schoolhouse, where everyone knows your name.

“The third thing that micro-schools tend to have in common is that they provide a much more personalized and self-directed learning experience for their students. If you did some research on small schools you’d likely find as many varieties of micro-schools as you do something like coffee houses, yoga studios, or nonchain restaurants.” – Mara Linaberger

A History of Podding Before It was Cool

Did pods exist pre-pandemic? Yes. In fact, the “pods” that formed during the pandemic were basically new variations of existing school forms, like homeschooling co-ops, online school, and private school.

Even before the pandemic, there were micro-schools and other small, creative learning environments that share some similarities with today’s learning pods. QuantumCamp and Acton Academy were founded in 2009, and are two examples of early micro-school learning programs. Outschool was founded in 2015 to offer small group, live online classes for K-12 students. That same year, Education Next wrote about how “from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, to New York, new forms of schooling termed micro-schools are popping up.”

More recently, in 2018, an Arizona dad started using a micro-school learning model he’d call Prenda. Under the Prenda model, small groups of just 5-10 kids collaborate on project-based learning with the help of an adult mentor or guide. From one micro-school in 2018, the Prenda model has spread to more than 300 micro-schools as of spring 2022.

While many families sought a short-term pod during the pandemic that met their need for extra support or community after learning loss, many pre-pandemic micro-school educators and families were drawn by different motivations. Pre-existing micro-school families and educators were drawn to the micro-school model not from necessity but from a desire for a freer, more creative learning environments than were otherwise available.

As Mara Linaberg, an education consultant at MicroschooolBuilders.com, described, educators who established micro-schools before the pandemic were focused on creating viable, sustainable education communities that would leave a lasting legacy. Often these micro-schools were inspired by a desire for students to be much more self-directed, and educators to have much more freedom in teaching methods. “I began to learn about all of the alternative forms of education, teaching and learning out there,” she said. “And as I learned my excitement grew! As I learned about small schools using models such as Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio Emelia, I started to dream about the possibility of new kinds of schools… one-room schools that were modern, innovative, and joy-filled spaces.”

While the future of pods remains to be seen, there is some evidence that families are sticking with pods longer than they may have originally planned. June 2022 polling found that more than a quarter of families with school-aged children are currently participating in a learning pod or looking to form or join some type of pod.

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Self-Directed vs. Learning Support Pods

Pods can take a variety of legal forms. Some pods are private micro-schools, others are support groups for online schools, and some are simply homeschool co-ops. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you’re signing up for and whether it meets your child’s necessary school requirements.

When it comes to joining or developing a learning pod, parents have two distinct options:

Self-Directed Pod (Homeschool, Homeschool Collaborative, or Micro-school): In this type of learning pod, parents un-enroll their children from their existing traditional public school, charter school, magnet school, or private school. They are solely responsible for determining their own curriculum, lesson plans, and methods of instruction, in accordance with state laws and regulations. In many of these self-directed learning pods, parents serve as teachers. In others, parents pool resources to hire teachers, tutors, or instructors. Each state has its own rules for homeschooling. Keep in mind that homeschooling is not just a style of instruction, it’s also a legal term that means that parents have taken full responsibility for educating their children in the home.

In some states, there is a limit on the number of students who can learn together before your pod might be classified as a standalone private school. If a pod offers a more formal education arrangement and families officially enroll in the micro-school and exchange money for services, this may indicate that the pod is functioning as a private school. Acton Academy micro-schools, for instance, are usually established as private schools that charge tuition and use state-certified teachers.

screenshot of Facebook discussion of pods and micro-schools

Learning Support Pod: In this type of learning pod, parents keep their children enrolled in their local public, charter, or private school. The purpose of these pods is to help students better acclimate to learning provided by existing schools so that students can learn together and parents can accommodate their individual work needs. Under the supervision of a parent, several parents, or a guardian, students work together on lessons, classes, and activities provided by the children’s existing schools. Learning support pods may meet during the day, in the case of remote learning, or after school. 

screenshot of social media discussion of learning pods and micro-schools

Keep in mind that, in some cases where pods or micro-schools are regulated as distance learning programs, arrangements that families make to regularly meet in person for their children to complete assignments together may be classified as in-home childcare. This is the case, for example, with some Prenda micro-schools in Arizona.

 

Questions to Ask if You’re Starting a Pod

If you are considering joining or starting a new pod or micro-school, there are many questions to ask along the way. Here are a few:

1. Which type of pod do you fall under: self-directed or learning support? If you’re in the self-directed category as described above, you and your pod’s families will need to take appropriate actions to either register as homeschooling families or comply with private school regulations, as described in your state by state breakdown below.

2. What space will you use? Will learning take place in one family’s home, rotate through homes, or take place in a rented or common environment? Have you planned for traffic and parking? What about meals?

3. What liability policies and additional agreements should you put in place in case something unexpected happens? Have you set clear expectations for all pod participants? What health and wellness policies will you set? What channels of communication will you use?

4. What curriculum will you use? Thinking about what is important to your family and other participants in the pod can help you choose the curriculum and learning style. Curricula can range from arts, vocational, STEM, humanities, etc. Whichever curriculum you choose, make sure it is well-rounded and gives students a balance between learning and enrichment activities. Or, streamline things by looking into the online schools available in your state, and let them guide your students’ learning for the year.

5. What kind of accountability structures will you want in place? How will you ensure children who participate are truly learning and growing? Some states do require annual assessments of learning for homeschool students, so check out your state’s homeschooling rules below.

How Much do Pods Cost?

There isn’t just one kind of pod. Some can be completely free to create and design, while other families might spend hundreds of dollars each month. Both local communities and national organizations are working to support all families who wish to participate in micro-schools or pods. For instance, the National Parents Union gave $200,000 in direct grants to parents and family-led organizations to support homeschool pods and micro-schools.

“A micro-school is not the right environment for every student, but there are students of all income levels who could potentially thrive in a micro-school’s highly relational, personalized setting.” – Melissa Steel King

Lastly, there are some private school scholarship programs that help offset the cost of homeschooling. If your pod or micro-school is taking the homeschool track as described above, make sure to check this out.

two kids and teacher smile with school choice banner

State Policies for Pods

Every state has different requirements on records, reporting, and registration of different types of schools. Check out the flow chart above to determine which type of school your learning pod falls under, then see your state’s regulations linked below.

If your learning pod qualifies as a private school in your state, you can check out the state registration, accreditation, and licensing cheat sheet. You can also see a cheat sheet that touches on teacher certification and curriculum.

If your learning pod qualifies as homeschooling, you can see a cheat sheet for how each state regulates them and what public services you’ll be able to access.

See the difference between self-directed pods and learning pods.

Alabama:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Alabama. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Alabama may still be eligible to participate in sports at local public schools provided they meet their district’s requirements.

If your learning pod contains multiple families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Alabama classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Alaska:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Alaska. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Alaska may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Alaska classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in online courses through the Alaska Digital Academy for a fee. 

Arizona:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Arizona. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Arizona may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Arizona classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including permanent, full-time online schools that are available to K-12 students statewide. 

For example, Prenda Microschools offers a tuition-free learning pod option for families through a partnership with accredited online schools in Arizona. Also, Great Hearts Online has piloted a microschool program where families can enroll in the classical online school but receive in-person learning support.

KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for both homeschoolers and students enrolled in accredited virtual schools, and is expanding its locations in Arizona for the 2022-2023 school year. 

In 2021, Gov. Ducey announced that $3.5 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Fund dollars would go toward developing 50 microschools centered on meeting the needs of minority communities and their families. You can learn more at the Black Mothers Forum.

Arkansas:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Arkansas. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students with disabilities in Arkansas may be eligible to access special education services from their local school districts. Additionally, homeschooled students in Arkansas may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools, though restrictions may apply.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Arkansas classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

California:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in California. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what California classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

For example, Chronos Academy, a microschool in Larkspur, evolved from a cohort program for homeschoolers to a private school with intentionally small classes.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including permanent, full-time online schools that are available to K-12 students statewide. 

In Oakland, the Oakland REACH offers in-person and virtual learning hubs to help students receive support and academic and social enrichment. 

KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for homeschoolers and students enrolled in accredited virtual schools, and is expanding its locations in California for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Colorado:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Colorado. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Colorado may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Colorado classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Zealous Schools is one organization operating a few microschools as independent schools in Colorado. Recently, the organization partnered with families to open the first all-girls microschool in Eagle County.

In Denver, Embark micro-school blends study and real world experience, allowing students to work half-hour shifts at a nearby coffee shop and bike shop.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. In Colorado, there have even been some district-run learning pods, such as those run by the Adams 12 District. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Connecticut:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Connecticut. One example of homeschoolers gathering in a pod-like community is LearnerSpace in Bethel, Connecticut. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Connecticut classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

The Connecticut State Department of Education has issued a memo recognizing that many families have formed pods, and that in many cases these pods are distinct from homeschooling

Delaware:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Delaware. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Delaware classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

For example, the United Way of Delaware has partnered with school districts, like the Christina School District, to offer learning support pods to hundreds of low-income students statewide.

Florida:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Florida. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students with special needs are eligible to receive “testing and evaluation services at diagnostic and resource centers” in Florida. Additionally, homeschooled students in Florida may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Florida classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Broward County officials have issued guidance about learning pods, saying, “Programs that provide care and supervision to elementary school aged children must be licensed as child care unless they are registered as a private school with the Florida Department of Education or qualify for an exemption with our office.”

KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for homeschoolers and students enrolled in accredited virtual schools, and is expanding its locations in Florida for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Georgia:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Georgia. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students with special needs may still be eligible for additional support from the State of Georgia. Additionally, as of 2021, homeschooled students in Georgia are eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools, provided they meet certain requirements.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Georgia classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide.

Sometimes these learning support pods are district-run. For example, the DeKalb County School District has won a grant to partner with a community non-profit and serve alternative education students through learning hubs. 

KaiPod Learning recently opened a learning support pod for Atlanta-area students. Students who homeschool or use an accredited virtual school can join the pod for community and educational support. 

In 2021, Georgia passed a law protecting homes and informal places used for learning support pods from state or local regulation.

Hawaii:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Hawaii. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Hawaii classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in part-time middle school or high school classes in Hawaii’s e-school

Idaho:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Idaho. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Idaho may be eligible to take classes at local public schools, or participate in sports or activities, through the state’s dual enrollment programs.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Idaho classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Idaho recently passed a bill that allows groups of parents to partner with their school district on “innovation classrooms,” like microschools within the public school setting. Similar to pods, these “innovation classrooms” could be small learning groups where kids use an alternative curriculum and are taught by a specific teacher. 

Illinois:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Illinois. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers with special learning needs may be eligible for services and support from local school districts in Illinois. Additionally, homeschooled students may enroll part time at local public schools and request to participate in sports and activities, but schools are not required by law to grant this request. 

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Illinois classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. If your child is going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including taking supplemental online courses through Illinois Virtual School

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has issued a memo encouraging families operating pods out of homes to become licensed. 

Indiana:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Indiana. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers are eligible to receive some special education services from Indiana school districts. Additionally, homeschool students in Indiana may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools, though restrictions apply.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Indiana classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide.

In Indianapolis, a local nonprofit called the Mind Trust is facilitating learning hubs to support students. 

Iowa:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Iowa. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers are eligible to receive some special education services from Iowa school districts. Additionally, homeschool students in Iowa may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools through dual enrollment.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Iowa classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including two permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Kansas:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Kansas. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Kansas classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one. Green Gate Children’s School in Wichita is one example of a microschool with a private school format. 

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Some cities in Kansas, such as Shawnee, have developed city code to regulate remote learning support programs. You can always check with your local governance about whether they are developing regulations applicable to your learning pod. 

Kentucky:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Kentucky. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Kentucky classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling your child in a private, full-time online school for a fee. 

Louisiana:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Louisiana. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschool students in Louisiana may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools, though restrictions may apply.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Louisiana classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

In 2021, Louisiana created a pod law that lays out some guidelines for school districts wanting to establish pods. Under this law, districts can create pods of at least 10 students that are linked to a school under their jurisdiction. Students in such a pod are taught by teachers and staff in the district. While established by a district, these pods can take place in unique locations like museums or libraries, or through virtual means.  

Tuition-free Prenda microschools are available to families in parts of Louisiana.

Maine:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Maine. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschool students in Maine may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools.

Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services has issued a statement that “Families who elect to provide home instruction completely themselves or through private arrangements with another adult—without involvement in their local school administrative unit (SAU)—need to formally submit a notice of intent to provide home instruction to the local superintendent and the Maine Department of Education (DOE).”

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Maine classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including two free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Learning support pods for students formally enrolled in a school may require licenses in Maine if instruction is compensated and there are more than three students in addition to any children living in the home. 

Maryland:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Maryland. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Maryland classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a private, full-time online school for a fee. 

Massachusetts:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Massachusetts. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools, though restrictions apply.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including free public virtual schools that are available to students statewide and private online schools available for a fee. 

KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for Massachusetts students enrolled in accredited virtual schools. Already operating in Newton, KaiPod Learning plans to expand to seven other Massachusetts locations.

In Massachusetts, the state allows learning pods of up to five families to operate without a license, as long as one parent is present at all times and payment is limited to compensation for food and materials. 

Michigan:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Michigan. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers in Michigan may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools. Additionally, Michigan homeschoolers are eligible to enroll in online classes at the Michigan Virtual School.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Michigan classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Instruction released a memo in August 2020 detailing rules applying to school-age child care, some of which may apply to learning pods.

Minnesota:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Minnesota. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers may be eligible to receive limited tax exemptions from the State of Minnesota to cover costs related to instruction, field trips, and parental time. Additionally, Minnesota homeschoolers may still be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Minnesota classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

An example of a learning support pod that ran during the pandemic was Hope Youth Center, which provided full-time distance learners with tech, tutors, snacks, mental health support, and more.

Mississippi:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Mississippi. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Mississippi classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a private online school for a fee. 

Missouri:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Missouri. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers in Missouri may be eligible to participate in classes, sports, or activities at local public schools if they enroll there part-time.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Missouri classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Learn more about Missouri’s free online school offerings.

Montana:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Montana. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Montana may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Montana classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time online private school for a fee. 

Nebraska:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Nebraska. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Nebraska who enroll part-time at their local public school may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Nebraska classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

Nevada:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Nevada. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers with special needs are eligible to receive special education services from local school districts. Additionally, homeschooled students in Nevada may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Nevada classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Las Vegas families may want to check out the Greater Las Vegas Microschool Collaborative and the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy to learn more. 

Also, Nevada Action for School Options has created a series of explainer videos on microschooling.

New Hampshire:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in New Hampshire. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in New Hampshire may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

New Hampshire’s state commissioner of education has said that learning pods are permitted by New Hampshire law and families may have family members or friends supervise children in the parent’s absence. 

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what New Hampshire classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including free full or part-time middle and high school classes through Virtual Learning Academy Charter

In New Hampshire, some school districts have partnered with Prenda to offer district-run learning support pods. The learning pods are being funded by a state grant and served about 100 students in the 2021-2022 school year.

For homeschool students and virtual school students in New Hampshire, KaiPod Learning offers free learning support pods. Students attending “KaiPods” receive opportunities to socialize, collaborate, and receive educational support while completing their chosen curriculum. 

New Jersey:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in New Jersey. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what New Jersey classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

You can hear the story of one New Jersey parent-led learning pod that shifted into a private learning center at the LiberatED podcast.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

In New Jersey, providing care for more than six children under the age of 13 requires a childcare license

New Mexico:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in New Mexico. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in New Mexico may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools, and are also eligible to take classes at the state’s online schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what New Mexico classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

New York:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in New York. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. The New York State Education Department says that, “Where groups of parents organize to provide group instruction by a tutor for a majority of the instructional program, they are operating a nonpublic school and are no longer providing home instruction.” Read more about what New York classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

North Carolina:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in North Carolina. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers are eligible to enroll in North Carolina Virtual Public School, for a fee, to supplement their coursework, if approved by their school board. If your child was enrolled for one previous semester in a public school and had an IEP, they are eligible for the special education tax credit of up to $3,000 per semester, per child, that can be spent on special education expenses.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what North Carolina classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including two permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has required organizations to obtain a license in order to provide childcare for school-age children. Organizations contracting with a public school are exempt. Read about an affordable learning support pod in Charlotte that partnered with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Sometimes learning pods are even district-run. For example, Edgecombe County Public Schools in rural North Carolina won a grant to test out learning hubs as a way to give students of all ages more flexibility in their education. The district is also experimenting with early learning pods for three and four-year-olds. Similarly, Guilford County Public Schools is partnering with community organizations to launch learning hubs and give students a blended learning option.  

North Dakota:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in North Dakota. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in North Dakota may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what North Dakota classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

Ohio:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Ohio. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Ohio may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Ohio classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. You can also check Boys & Girls Clubs, libraries, and cultural centers near you to learn if they offer any free or paid learning support pods. 

Oklahoma:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Oklahoma. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Oklahoma classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Edupreneur Academy offers a free guide for parents interested in learning pods in Oklahoma.

Oregon:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Oregon. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Oregon may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Oregon classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Oregon officials have suggested that they may regulate multi-family pod programs under the state’s childcare guidelines

Pennsylvania:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Pennsylvania. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschoolers with special learning needs are eligible to receive special education support and resources from local public school districts. Additionally, homeschooled students in Pennsylvania may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Pennsylvania classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has laid out guidelines for families interested in joining learning support pods. 

For more info on finding school-age childcare or establishing a learning pod in Pennsylvania, check out The Pennsylvania Key. As of fall 2020, there were more than 50 learning pods in Pennsylvania. For example, KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for Harrisburg students enrolled in accredited virtual schools, and is expanding to additional Pennsylvania locations for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Rhode Island:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Rhode Island. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Rhode Island may in some cases be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Rhode Island classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including participation in Rhode Island’s new full-time online school through your public school district.

Sometimes learning pods are even district-run. For example, the Central Falls School District won a grant to develop an innovative learning pod model to give highschoolers a more flexible path to a diploma.

South Carolina:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in South Carolina. In Charleston, Classeteria is a growing learning where homeschoolers come together for enrichment classes and hands-on projects. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in South Carolina may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what South Carolina classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

The South Carolina Department of Social Services has announced that learning support pods in which an adult is caring for children for more than one unrelated family should apply for a family child care home license. 

South Dakota:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in South Dakota. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in South Dakota may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what South Dakota classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

Tennessee:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Tennessee. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Tennessee may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Tennessee classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Texas:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Texas. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Texas may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Texas classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

In an effort to keep learning pods a flexible choice for families, Texas legislators passed a bill in May 2021 to protect learning pods from burdensome government regulations.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. You can check nonprofits near you for learning pod opportunities; for instance, YMCAs sometimes offer WiFi and learning support so students can successfully complete schoolwork. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

KaiPod Learning offers learning pods for homeschoolers and students enrolled in accredited virtual schools, and is expanding its locations in Texas for the 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, Great Hearts Online, a classical virtual academy, is piloting classical learning microschools in Arizona and Texas for families enrolled in their online program.

The city of Austin has stated that anyone operating a learning pod must have a health and safety plan, and lays out guidelines for when pods must be registered as child care. Learn more about Austin based pods.

Utah:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Utah. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Utah may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Utah classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Vermont:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Vermont. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Vermont may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Vermont classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling in a full-time private online school for a fee. 

Virginia:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Virginia. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Virginia classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including a permanent, full-time online school available to students statewide. 

Washington:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Washington. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Washington may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools. In addition, Washington homeschoolers are eligible to receive ancillary services, including “counseling, psychological services, testing, remedial instruction, speech and hearing therapy, health-care services, [and] tutorial services” offered by local school districts, at no additional cost.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Washington classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including several permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

According to Washington state law, childcare services for less than four hours a day are license exempt, but childcare services for more than four hours a day require a license

West Virginia:

In 2022, West Virginia become one of the first states to sign official definitions of learning pods and microschools into law, distinguishing them from other types of schooling. According to the bill, a learning pod in the state is ““a voluntary association of parents choosing to group their children together to participate in their elementary or secondary academic studies as an alternative to enrolling in a public school, private school, homeschool, or microschool.”

West Virginia law defines a microschool as “a school initiated by one or more teachers or an entity created to operate a school that charges tuition for the students who enroll and is an alternative to enrolling in a public school, private school, homeschool, or learning pod.”

Families participating in learning pods or microschools are exempt from compulsory school attendance, but must meet certain requirements. For example, parents must notify the county superintendent or county board of their intent to participate in a learning pod or microschool, and students must complete annual assessments that are submitted to the county superintendent.

With approval from their county board, students participating in a learning pod or microschool in West Virginia may participate in part-time classes at their local school.

Wisconsin:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Wisconsin. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Wisconsin may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Wisconsin classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including multiple free, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

Wyoming:

Self-Directed Pods:

If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Wyoming. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA. Note that homeschooled students in Wyoming may still be eligible to participate in sports, activities, or classes at local public schools.

If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. Read more about what Wyoming classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

Learning Support Pods:

If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including two permanent, full-time online schools that are available to students statewide. 

 

Can My Child with Special Needs Participate in a Pandemic Pod?

Yes, special needs children can participate in pods. In fact, one parent who discovered micro-schooling had this to say, “I have seen children who have struggled for years in a traditional school setting be transformed after only a few months in a Prenda micro-school classroom. And because of their small size and supportive, personalized environment, micro-schools excel at embracing and accepting students with learning differences.”

If your student is switching to homeschooling or private schooling from public school last year and has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place, you will be eligible, in many states, to receive special education services or a stipend for them. These are typically administered by each school district, but you can check with your State Department of Education or HSLDA to find out if your state allows for this.

If your student has a disability, you can view these strategies from the National Center for Learning Disabilities to help your child be successful while adapting to their new learning environment. For guidance on how educators can deliver lessons online to students in special education and learning resources, check out these resources from SPED Homeschool, HSLDA, and Educating All Learners. To go more in depth about special education and school choice, check out our Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Next Steps:

If you’re ready to take the next step in considering learning pods or micro-schools, we recommend joining Facebook groups. That way, you can participate in discussions with other families interested in this learning arrangement. Here are a couple of groups to give you a taste of what’s available:

Families who have formed pods can find teachers through sites such as Get Selected, LearningPodsHub, or SchoolHouse. Wonderschool seeks to connect parents with childcare and microschool options in parts of New York, California, and Texas. SitterStream matches families with tutors who offer virtual classes in subjects like coding, dance, and theater. 

Educators or parents serious about founding their own micro-school may wish to check out microschoolbuilders.com, 100Roads.org, or the microschooling explainer videos by Nevada Action for School Options. Additionally, teachers starting microschools may wish to check out a.school, a learning management platform for microschools.

Additionally, KaiPod Learning is a national learning pod resource currently expanding to support more families who have chosen online schooling or homeschooling. In KaiPod Learning Centers, small groups of online learners or homeschoolers come together to learn and socialize with the support of a dedicated coach.

Finally, the Center for Reinventing Public Education has compiled a database of more than 300 learning pods throughout the country. This list may be a good starting point for finding pod locations or remote learning support in your community.

three children hold school choice sign in front of mural

 

The information in this guide is designed to help families who are considering pods or micro-schools in their decision-making process. Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child.

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