Here’s What You Should Know About Pandemic Pods for Kids

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kids running with COVID masks at school

School’s back! Sort of.

The pandemic’s left schools with no other choice: Remote learning is the name of the game. Now, parents, teachers, and children are faced with a myriad of challenges.

For parents, the online learning scope is completely new terrain to stumble across. With their children home all day, parents are scrambling for child care options and private tutors so that they can still effectively work full-time jobs. Teachers face a lot of the same issues that they encounter in the classroom when it comes to implementing scaffolded learning strategies and instructing diverse groups of students. Only now they’re working extra hard to find creative ways of teaching in a virtual learning environment.

Children might be the most affected of all. They are in a pivotal stage of physical cognitive, and emotional development. This new school year promises to be devoid of the normal social interaction that our kids are used to. The result of this is a collaborative effort between parents and teachers to make this work as best as possible.

One emerging option?

Pandemic pods.

two kids studying together

What’s a Pandemic Pod?

Pandemic pods (or, learning pods, education pods, etc. ) have sprung up as a result of remote learning. Teachers are putting forth Herculean efforts each day to keep kids learning productively, but there’s still no substitute for in-person instruction and individualized attention. And for the working parent, constant time helping their child with his or her online classes is simply not feasible.

Pandemic pods want to help with this. The idea is that a small number of students gather in-person (usually at a selected parent’s home) and meet with an in-person instructor or tutor.

This educator works with the curriculum that these small groups of children are receiving from their respective school district during remote learning sessions.

Make no mistake, it’s a good idea in theory. However, the emergence of these small pandemic-friendly learning environments has raised a few concerns.

The Challenges That Come with Learning Pods

Learning pods have received the greater public’s eye in response to COVID-19, but they’re not reinventing the wheel. In fact, they’re an adaptation of the “micro-school,” which is itself a reimagining of the one-room schoolhouse. The goal, of course, being to reduce class sizes.

A micro-school promotes small class sizes (15 students or less), mixed age groups, and fewer meetings. Think of them as a halfway point between home school and private school instruction.

However, there are challenges associated with this approach. In particular:

diverse learning pods for kids

1. Affordability

Sometimes it seems like the smaller the learning environment, the more costly it is for parents. Affluent families might not have a problem with this, but every family can’t afford this type of access to education.

Which leads to the next challenge.

2. Inequality

There’s already a glaring achievement gap in our country’s education system, and many high-priced learning pods seem to only widen this divide.

With some families unable to access learning pods for their children, educational inequity reigns.

3. School Funding

If students opt-out of attending their local public schools in favor of learning pods, the schools lose funding and those students still attending pay the price.

So, the traditional in-person learning pod is a double-edged sword. And at Thimble, we always want to make sure we’re providing equitable access to education.

Which is why we support virtual pandemic pods.

remote learning taking place on a laptop

Using Virtual Pandemic Pods

As the name suggests, virtual pandemic pods allow small groups of students to connect online with an instructor or tutor.

Thimble’s resources are meant to be accessible and empowering for the next generation of engineers. That’s why our digital materials and lessons can be used for self-created virtual pandemic pods!

We offer affordable STEM kits for kids, as well as online STEM programs that are taught by accredited educators.

Our goal is to make remote learning easy now and later, all while providing kids with the tools they need to explore careers in engineering, design, and beyond.

Visit our site today and see how it works!

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