Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When children returned to school – some virtually, many in person – many parents likely noticed that some of their children’s classmates were missing.

One explanation for their absence is microschools, which have been popping up all over the country recently. Microschools – otherwise known as “Learning Pods” or “Pandemic Pods” – are small groups of children learning together with the help of an in-person instructor. They usually meet at different children’s homes on a rotating basis.

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Some parents have turned to microschools because their local school only offers virtual learning and they want an in-person instructor. Other parents fear sending their children to school believing the health risk to be too great. And so microschools have been trending this year.

How do you provide a stellar education in all subjects with just one instructor? How do middle- or lower-class parents afford microschools? Here are a few virtual microschool resources, which can also be used to supplement traditional teaching.

Outschool: Outschool is a marketplace of over 50,000 virtual classes. Classes have independent instructors on a wide range of topics. The cost ranges from $10 for a single class to several hundred dollars for a semester-long course. Courses are divided by age group, with live age-appropriate online classes for children ages 3-18.

Originally created to supplement a homeschooling curriculum, Outschool is also a viable alternative for parents who can’t afford to hire an in-person instructor. Parents can find more information and register for classes at www.outschool.com.

Home Grown Unit: Home Grown Unit is a virtual learning pod site. It’s more like an online school than a variety of classes, although it’s not accredited. Children registered to its platform are officially homeschooled.

Home Grown Unit offers a four-hour online school day for core studies such as English, math, science, and social studies. Morning and afternoon sessions are available. Home Grown Unit also offers extracurricular and elective studies, as well as one-on-one tutoring for parents who want a longer day and more course options.

Home Grown Unit touts its certified teachers, low student-teacher ratio and affordable rates. Parents can find more information and register for classes at www.homegrownunit.com.

Schoolhouse: Schoolhouse is designed to help parents with the microschool experience. For example, Schoolhouse matches parents with in-person educators to teach their children and finds other children in the area to join a pod if parents don’t have a pre-set pod.

Schoolhouse also enables parents to choose the style of learning – Montessori, project-based, STEM-based, etc. Classes are small and often multi-level. Parents can find more information at www.getschoolhouse.com.

Jewish Online School: While there are many Jewish online resources for parents, many prefer physical books and in-person instruction to imbue their child with a love and a taste for Judaism.

For parents who want their children to have some online Jewish instruction, Jewish Online School offers a variety of Jewish studies including a Hebrew school, a cheder, conversational Hebrew classes, and a day school. Parents can find more information and register at www.nigrijewishonlineschool.com.

It’s important to remember that microschools are essentially another form of homeschooling. Every state has its own homeschooling regulations. Before going down the homeschooling route, parents are encouraged to do due diligence to ensure they are following state laws.

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