Micro Schools are what people call it when families partner together to homeschool. Micro schools can vary in structure. They can range in activities anywhere from just sharing one activity together to spending the entire homeschooling experience together. They can be as small as two families in size, but can also be several families.
There are many benefits of a micro school. The social interaction of both students and parents can be a plus. For those doing it on a regular basis, the parents will naturally learn academic procedures, goals, and needs of the other families, so supervision might be shared. That can give parents flexibility, continuity, and more in common. The structure might allow for group projects, outside activities, and even having older students going through a same course together.
For those using a micro school to do academics together, normally it is best if all the students are using the same curriculum or online school even if different grade level material. This makes it easier for another parent to help your child when needed. Often curricula will use the same procedures throughout grade levels, so special training isn’t necessary to supervise a different student. Both parents and students can better support each other when using the same curriculum. If using a good scope and sequence curriculum or an individualized online school, the efficiency of homeschooling can easily allow a four-day structure. It just depends on what will work best for the families. You might even get a discount for purchasing curriculum together or joining an online school together.
A micro school, or whatever you want to call it, is technically a homeschool support group. You should probably name it something besides a “micro school” to avoid being misunderstood by neighbors and for code/regulation reasons. The easiest structure is “people that are homeschooling that are just hanging out together to share the experience and maybe to help each other.” One question that will come up is “Are all parents required to be there at all times?” For example, what about a single parent that works or both parents of a family that work? It would be fair to consider a fee for the time a parent is not there, so it discourages absenteeism. The fee could also seem like a fair and good thing from the absent parent’s perspective too. It wouldn’t be tuition, since the other parent is also homeschooling. You are just asking for something when the parent cannot be there. If you call it childcare, you need to check for childcare regulations. If you call it a school, you need to check for school regulations. Although many states make it easy to have a small private school, the building requirements and inspections can be challenging. Being a support group structure could prevent those challenges, but you still need to research your area’s regulations.
A micro school has several benefits, but it can have some challenges! What starts out as a great idea to share the homeschool experience can turn sour if you don’t know the other family(s) well. Even then, students can develop conflicts with other students. Students can develop conflicts with a parent. Parents can develop conflicts with parents. Families will still need to see each other the next day, and the next. Potential scenarios should be talked about in advance to both prevent and to know how to resolve if it happens. It might even be a commitment put on paper. Because there will likely be things that were not thought about, the micro school might start out for a fixed time length, then is reevaluated by those involved whether to continue.
Then there’s the question of where do you meet? If most are using online or computer-based curriculum, there needs to be some planning. Even just paper-based student work areas need to be planned out. The host also needs to consider: “What is in the student work area that could be a potential risk?” “What will need to be structured for the bathroom and other areas a student might access?” “Will there be any problems with the neighbors if students are around all the time, especially outside for breaks?” “Will there be enough parking?” Due to all those things, it makes sense to consider one ideal location all the time. In that case, the host needs to be supported enough to be happy with that arrangement.