Despite their small size, microschools are having a big impact on education. And this week’s launch of the new National Microschooling Center is likely to help as parents, teachers, and education entrepreneurs will now have a central hub for information and resources.
“Microschools are designed in a way that every child can thrive,” notes Ashley Soifer, Chief Innovation Officer at the National Microschooling Center. “Relationships are at the heart of microschooling, and as microschooling leaders build relationships with each child as an individual, it creates an educational opportunity unlike any most children have yet experienced.”
Microschools have experienced tremendous growth over the past 10–15 years—especially in the wake of COVID‐related school disruptions. But many people are still unfamiliar with the idea. There’s not really a standard definition for microschools, but they are often described as modern one‐room schoolhouses.
Many microschools have as few as 10 children and meet in a home, church, or community center. Prenda Microschools, which started in 2018 with seven children learning in founder Kelly Smith’s home and has grown to more than 300 locations educating more than 3,000 kids today, follow this approach.
Others, like Acton Academy, might have as many as 100 learners divided into smaller classes. Acton Academy was started by Texas parents who wanted their children to have a student‐driven education that nurtures their natural curiosity. From a single location in 2009, there is now a network of more than 250 Acton Academies around the world.
Microschools don’t typically separate children in single‐age groups; rather the learners are generally grouped in age or skill ranges. Since there can be a lot of variance in the skills or knowledge of children of the same age, this flexibility is one of the benefits of microschools.
In addition to their small sizes, microschools are able to offer unique educational environments that are impossible in many other education models. “Today’s microschools are created around the unique educational needs of each individual child, allowing them to deliver the powerful potential not possible in more traditional, institutional settings,” says National Microschooling Center CEO Don Soifer. “This fact makes microschooling’s proliferation around the country about its transformative potential, and not the particular failings of whichever incumbent school systems they are leaving.”
The National Microschooling Center plans to be a comprehensive resource center to help the microschool movement continue to grow. The Center says its focus will be to cultivate and grow demand, build and strengthen microschool leader capacity to equip for success, drive growth‐friendly policies, and mobilize united communities of practice.
Colleen Hroncich is a policy analyst with Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom.