DIY at-home micro-school
As varieties of organized micro-schools begin to grow, parents are also exploring options on their own. Megan Haas is a Madrona-based entrepreneur and mother of one. She has connected with Ivan Kerbel’s Facebook group, but she had already begun her journey to create a home-based school for her 7-year-old daughter.
Her daughter was enrolled in a private school in Seattle when remote learning began this past March. Haas created a pod with two other families in her neighborhood to facilitate child care and schoolwork; parents rotated responsibilities. The experience was especially meaningful because each of the three students are only children. “I love that closeness that it’s generated. They’ve become like siblings,” she said.
Now she is looking ahead to fall. Because of the uncertainty of in-person schooling, she has un-enrolled her daughter from the private school and is planning to home-educate her, alongside four other children. An outside teacher may do some of the teaching; the students' parents, a group that includes a landscape architect and artist, will lend their skills. Also important: Haas plans that the nature outside their doors will be their learning landscape.
Haas hopes other families will feel empowered to experiment with their kids' education this year, with so much uncertainty already in play. You could almost see it as a gap year — but at home.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” she says. “How do you turn to your community for mutual aid? How do you keep your kids close and safe, and give them a consistent education for a year?”
Are micro-schools legal?
Become a regular visitor to the Seattle Micro-schools Facebook group, and a question you’ll see pop up again and again in some form or another is: What are the legalities around small, home-based micro-schools? One aspect of the question is easily answered: You cannot legally enroll your child in a home-based “micro-school.” In Washington state, any child age 8 or over (the age of compulsory school attendance) needs to be enrolled in either a public school, an independent school or they need to qualify (and officially be “declared”) for parent-led, home-based instruction (see the Washington Homeschool Association for a great synopsis of homeschool regulations). Any “micro-school” learning would officially be supplemental to one of these options. See the Micro-schools Facebook group for additional conversations and information on how families can legally hire teachers and tutors together.
Washington Homeschool Association: The state homeschooling association has lots of useful information on opting into homeschooling and much more.
CDC’s Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open: CDC information on protecting child care centers from COVID.