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The Microschool Movement Explained

January 06, 20246 min read

Microschools are undeniably shaking up the world of education. What exactly is a microschool? Well, we won't pin it down with a strict definition because they're all about breaking free from labels! But if we could give you a peek inside, you’d see a customized atmosphere, cozy class sizes, and a curriculum that dances to the beat of the individual heart  – yes, they’re real and they're completely revolutionizing the way we think about how kids can learn.

Let's take a moment to step away from everything you've ever known about schooling because microschools are here to rethink those norms, and they're here to stay. Here's the inside scoop – microschools are rewriting the playbook on where learning can unfold. They are not usually found in school buildings; these little gems can pop up just about anywhere, from neighborhood homes to your local library, community spaces, and even the unused gyms in churches. They're like educational chameleons, adapting to their surroundings and thriving in diverse environments.

But it doesn't stop there. Microschool founders and learning coaches have the ability to step outside the box of traditional education and tailor curriculum and instruction to meet each student's needs. Because microschools are small, this individualization can be offered in tandem with opportunities for authentic collaboration and peer interaction. This atmosphere not only sharpens critical thinking and problem-solving skills through group discussions and hands-on activities, but also fosters lasting memories and friendships. It's like getting the best of both worlds – learning from a mentor while feeling the safety and comfort of a home-like environment.

The Rise of Microschools

Microschools are on the rise, and part of their appeal comes from initiatives like education savings accounts (ESAs) and grants. ESAs provide students with more educational options, particularly those facing financial challenges, by covering expenses like tuition and books. Some states even allow microschool innovators to become ESA vendors, offering their services to ESA students at no cost. Meanwhile, grants, like those offered by VELA Education Fund, encourage innovative teaching methods and technology integration in education.

Another linchpin in the microschool movement is that many parents and educators today have started to feel that traditional schools are not meeting the needs of individual students or keeping up with the science of how kids best learn. When chatting with some former educators, they often express similar sentiments, saying things like, "It worked for some, but I struggled to reach every student and meet their unique needs." In a typical classroom, students may technically be in the same grade, but they're all over the map when it comes to subject mastery, which can leave some feeling isolated. Data from math classrooms in Indiana show a nine-grade range of ability in a typical 5th grade class. That's where microschools shine with personalized plans for each student, addressing this problem head-on and creating a more inclusive learning environment. It's one of the big reasons why more and more people are turning to microschools for their education journey.

"It worked for some, but I struggled to reach every student and meet their unique needs.

Technology has also played a significant role in the rise of microschools. With all the online resources and ever-emerging new tools available, microschools can use technology to make learning even more engaging with things like interactive online lessons, artificial intelligence, and collaborative projects with students from other microschools. It's like bringing the world to a tiny school, and it's a game-changer.

And guess what? Microschools could already be right in your own community! You might even know families who've jumped on board, like those at Kind Academy in Coral Springs, Florida. This microschool specializes in supporting gifted, twice-exceptional, and neurodiverse students, while also focusing on meeting the needs of a diverse student population. Microschools are able to tailor learning to maximize potential, fill gaps where needed, and ignite intrinsic motivation.  This customization doesn’t stop with the individual learner, they are also able address the unique needs of the communities they serve. How revolutionary is that? 

Innovative Teaching Methods 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, microschools are leading the revolution by offering a more nuanced approach than is possible in traditional education. Why? They have the flexibility to employ a variety of innovative teaching methods to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment. 

One such method is individualized learning plans. Instead of following a one-size-fits-all curriculum, each student has the opportunity to co-pilot a personalized learning plan that is tailored to their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This approach allows students to progress at their own pace and ensures that they are challenged and engaged in their studies.

Now, let's talk about project-based learning. In traditional schools, it's often a logistical nightmare due to large class sizes and a rigid standards-based approach. But in microschools, it's a match made in heaven. With smaller groups, they can dive headfirst into project-based learning. It's not just about memorizing facts; it's about applying knowledge in a meaningful way. These experience-based opportunities make learning a dynamic and unforgettable experience. Microschools give students the chance to put their learning into action, preparing them for life beyond the classroom.

The Future of Education

Despite opposition and the struggles that arise when starting something new, microschools will continue carving out a place for themselves while shaping the future of education. It's thrilling to see an increasing number of educators and parents recognize the limits of the traditional education system and discover microschools as a refreshing alternative. These microschools aren't just inspiring success stories; they're implementing innovative teaching methods that are turning heads. And guess what? They're not just influencing the microschool scene; they're also making traditional schools rethink their game plan. Imagine traditional schools breaking their classes of 25 into smaller groups of 5 to promote collaboration, relationships, and critical thinking – all thanks to the microschool influence.

But as we look ahead, one thing becomes crystal clear: The growth and reach of microschools will be game-changing. Educators and policymakers are starting to see the light, and it's crucial to find ways to make microschools accessible to more students. That means tackling the tough stuff like affordability, equity, and access. We're celebrating their successes and their out-of-the-box teaching methods, but it's more than just a passing trend. Microschools are the catalysts of change that we've been waiting for.

As we champion this new approach, we have our sights set on the future. The real trick is making sure that microschools aren't just an option for a select few, but an inclusive, accessible choice for all students. Affordability, equity, and accessibility are crucial. So, let's all work together to create a future where the microschool model isn't just some niche choice but a viable option available to everyone.

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