Learning pods: what are they, and how do they benefit your child?

Learning pods, sometimes referred to as “micro-schools” or “nano schools”, consist of a small group of students supervised by an experienced and well-trained education professional.

The global pandemic in 2020 has wreaked havoc on traditional means of education and millions of students were forced to switch to online learning. However, there is a feeling shared by many adults that the new method of instruction leaves some gaps that need to be filled in.

Many parents in Austin Texas, as well as all over the world, are not fully satisfied with virtual learning at the end of this year and, as a result, they are seeking out an alternative educational environment and many are planning to join learning pods at the start of the year 2021.

Learning pods exist in different forms and employ various education methods. Some learning pods are private micro-schools, whereas others function as online support groups. However, all pods aim to fill the gap which was left by the school system this year, regardless of their format.

The number of students in each pod varies. But, on average, each one contains 3 to 10 students, essentially forming a social bubble. Due to the global pandemic students have not had an opportunity to play and socialize as before, and we are starting to see the growing impact of this social isolation as time goes by. Learning pods have increased in popularity due to the pandemic as one of the ways to deal with this problem, and many parents have their children join them to foster group learning and socialization.

Keep reading to find out more about some of the most popular options.

Learning pods that use the Montessori method.

Montessori is one of the education methods which involves hands-on learning, collaborative play, and self-direction. Children are supervised by a highly trained and experienced teacher who engages them in all sorts of age-appropriate activities and generally guides the learning process.

The Montessori method encourages children to make creative choices independently and learn from the consequences of their actions.

Usually, Montessori classrooms are uniquely designed environments that cater to children within a certain age group (it is noteworthy that traditional grade divides are not considered to be the best way for teaching children).

Every item in a Montessori classroom is deliberately placed there to support a child’s mental development. Montessori students learn at their own pace by engaging with their surroundings and arriving at logical conclusions with the help of their teacher.

The learning objectives vary slightly depending on the child’s age. Toddlers who are up to three years old are provided with an engaging and safe environment. The main focus is on promoting trust in both of themselves and the world that surrounds them, developing confidence as well as coordination, language skills, and fine motor skills.

3 to 6-year-olds learn how to function independently and self-regulate. The Montessori method promotes mental development through clear communication and natural consequences.

Older children are encouraged to express themselves in various ways and become self-reliant.

Just like any other educational environment, Montessori classrooms have also been affected by the global pandemic. So the solution is to create safe Montessori learning pods so that the children don’t miss out on the opportunities to develop themselves with the help of this method.

Reggio Emilia approach.

Reggio Emilia is a popular approach to education that originated in Northern Italy. Basically, it is a way to observe what children are naturally curious about, what challenges them, and what they already know. Teachers create written records of the observations they made and based on their analysis of these records they devise ways to help children reach their full social and academic potential.

What makes this approach different is the attitude teachers have towards their students. Children are viewed as full of knowledge and potential, curious, and competent. Teachers are well aware of their students’ potential and they construct the learning environment in a way that will help them to reach it.

Reggio Emilia approach also encourages interaction and cooperation.

The learning environment is a crucial component of the Reggio Emilia approach. Typical Reggio Emilia classrooms are well-organized, and the activities children engage in are meticulously planned by the teachers. And in these trying times, Reggio Emilia learning pods are chosen by many caring parents all over the world.

Waldorf education.

Waldorf education is a world-famous approach to teaching that was developed nearly 100 years ago in Europe. Since that time it has spread to approximately 1000 schools and 2000 early childhood programs in more than 60 countries.

Waldorf education is based on the threefold learning process. These three factors are engaging the head (thinking), engaging the heart (feeling), and engaging the hands (doing).

The curriculum integrates academic subjects as well as arts and practical skills. In the United States, Waldorf education has been available since 1928 and it has gained popularity among those who are dissatisfied with the pressure of multiple high-stakes tests that currently underpin the mainstream education system. The approach has also become popular among parents who are worried about future generations’ over-reliance on technology. Notably, many leaders in the tech world are choosing low-tech Waldorf schools for educating their own children since the method is believed to have lifelong benefits.

Waldorf education is based on the premise that childhood is divided into three stages each one lasting approximately seven years (the count starting from birth). According to this theory, each stage influences the child’s approach to the world and their physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities. Hence Waldorf educators firmly believe that the teaching methodology and the curriculum should be tailored for each of these stages.

During early childhood, children are encouraged to develop their limbs through various activities. Play-based activities, which have been carefully designed by the educators, encourage children to investigate the world around them, expand their imagination, and explore social relationships.

Children between seven and 14 years of age learn the best lessons by getting in touch with their feelings and developing their creativity. The lower school curriculum contains various mythological sagas, biographies of historical figures, fairy tales, fables, etc. Educators integrate rhythmic movement, storytelling, visual arts, drama, and music into their lessons.

Needless to say, being part of the learning pod that employs Waldorf education would be both beneficial and immensely fun for your child.

And last but not least, we have play-based learning. During play-based learning children are motivated to learn through play. Children learn how to discover the world around them, experiment, and solve problems. The learning process is both initiated by the child and supported by the teacher.