PHOENIX – As classes are held at a public school in Mesa, learning also takes place within the walls of a house just across the street.
Inside the house, the Kindergarten students were busy with their daily chores with their teacher (also known as the “learning guide”), Tiffany Jennings.
“It was such a new concept for me,” Jennings said. “I remember hearing it was part Montessori, part online, part traditional, part home, but taking the best bits of these things, so I was really curious how it would work. in a house, but I think it’s a great role model for these kids. “
Jennings taught at a public school before moving to teaching at her home. His house is now called a “micro-school”.
Micro-school movement founded by the father
The model was founded by someone named Kelly Smith. He started a micro-school in his house several years ago, and he couldn’t believe the difference he was seeing in his own child.
Smith then wanted to share that with others, so in 2018 Prenda was created.
“Kids who have gone from ‘I don’t like school’ to ‘I like school’, these parents have noticed and they tell their friends that. So that’s a lot of word of mouth to. ear, and that’s before the pandemic, ”Smith said. “Now with COVID-19, I think this question of ‘here is an option that might work for a lot of people.’ So we’ve seen very rapid growth, and now helping thousands of students is really empowering them. students, and that’s our goal. ”
Prenda helps organize and deliver materials for the micro-schools, which are in-person schools with five to 10 students who are taught at the home of the learning guide. The organization offers Kindergarten to Grade 8 education, and Smith says its model of learning is designed to empower students to become lifelong learners.
“I think the main difference is that the crux of it all is, I think, the default assumption in most educational settings is that you are sitting here in this chair, and this thing called school is going to happen to you, as long as you complete the homework, do the things and go over the movements, “Smith said.” Our approach is very different. You are a learner, you are a participant. Even those young kindergarten children. that these things are done, but in a way that really empowers the student. ”
Smith says students are enrolled as distance learners and will learn everything a student in a traditional school will learn: science, math, reading, and social studies, just in a different format. . Education for students is also free.
Smith: Micro-school is different from homeschooling
It may sound like the micro-school is homeschooling, but Smith says it’s very different.
“Home school, for a lot of people, is scary. It’s a lot of work. There’s this wonder: ‘Am I doing it well? Am I giving it enough academic rigor. ? ‘ And that question of socializing or being with other kids. So Prenda really solves it all. He says you’re going to be in person, with other kids. It’s an academic standards-driven program with testing. and things like that. So parents don’t ask, “Is my kid learning what he needs to learn?” They can feel good about it because we’re doing this in our model, ”Smith said. .
In terms of security, Smith said it was a priority.
“We have a rigorous background check and screening surrounding the adult who will be around the kids as part of the micro-school. We also look at the physical location for safety. Things like the pool, fences and smoke detectors. The same rules you would expect if there was a preschool or daycare in a house. Third, Internet security. We use computers to personalize education, and we make it easy. Prenda provides a router Internet at every micro-school that filters the content, thus protecting them too that way, ”said Smith.
What started as a not-so-traditional way of learning has become the norm for thousands of students in Arizona. There are also dozens of Prenda micro-schools in other parts of the country. The model might not be for everyone, but for Jennings and her kids, it’s a perfect match.
“I feel like this is a good opportunity because there are fewer kids, fewer days, fewer hours, good pay, in my house,” Jennings said. “It works great with my family and with my other commitments, and I love it.”
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