Micro-schools in Asheville, NC

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On Friday, EdNC reported updated numbers from the NC Department of Administration’s Division of Non-Public Education, which show requests to operate a homeschool between July and November 2020 have risen to 16,570 across the state — up from just 6,220 requests during the same period in 2019. (Individualized county data is not currently available.)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, local families have been faced with myriad challenges and decisions when it comes to public and private instruction for children aged K-12. Among those options, micro-schooling has become a popular “happy medium” for parents who want kids to have a more traditional group learning experience, while still social distancing or studying remotely.

Wait, what is micro-schooling? The first micro-schools were founded in 1989, as part of the Alternative Education Resource Organization. Also known as “learning pods,” they can be accredited, or not + home-based, or not. The common denominator is that a micro-school involves a small group of students of the same age and grade, instructed by a licensed — or in some cases, retired — teacher (opposed to homeschooling, where instruction is often led by parents or other family members). Often, the curriculum emphasizes student-led and hands-on learning.

What are the benefits of micro-schooling during the pandemic? Each family’s needs are unique, and micro-schooling definitely isn’t one-size-fits-all. For some children, this educational format helps replicate the social element that is missing from remote or distance learning situations. And for working parents, the structure of micro-schools can be helpful for scheduling coursework

If you’re interested in learning more about micro-schools and other schooling options for the Spring 2021 term, check out these resources:

In related news, save the date: For parents looking to enroll their students in grades 6-12 in Buncombe County’s spring semester Virtual Academy — designed to be an online learning environment with a flexible scheduleenrollment is happening now. Note: Virtual Academy is separate from Virtual Days in response to COVID-19.