How a learning pod is helping me balance work and online schooling

  • Posted on November 4, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Amber Hall.

In the midst of COVID-19 and as families grapple with a changing education environment, I was trying to figure out how to balance work alongside our choice of the virtual school option for our 7-year-old daughter, Yana. As a close friend (and fellow working mom) and I discussed challenges, needs and goals in choosing this option for our children, we decided to form a "co-op”: a learning pod composed of a small, in-person group of students learning together with the help of an in-person teacher who was the right fit. It also helped address our need for childcare.

Our goals were to find the flexibility, safety, social interaction and community we desired in a small, local learning arrangement. We knew it was going to take a complete community effort! We hired a certified teacher to support the online assignments from the students' school curricula, and my friend graciously offered her home as our space. We found a few like-minded families who had similar social distancing practices.

Our pod consists of six students (three second graders, two fifth graders and one sixth grader), and we created two separate “classrooms” in the house for the two age groups. We also incorporated “room parents” where each of us has an assigned day of the week where we come in and provide any additional support to the teacher and students as needed throughout the day. We also make sure daily safety protocols are in place (temperature checks upon entry, sanitation packs, best practices, etc.) and we hold both parents and students accountable.

One of the things I love most about our pod structure is our drive to bring the curriculum to life and off the screen into some sort of social interaction environment where the kids have inclusive and synchronized “free time.” We use this time as an opportunity to add supplemental education/enrichment into their curricula. Each room parent takes on an enrichment subject on their assigned day (art, music, Spanish, physical education, history) and creates an interactive project/assignment for them to learn and enjoy together.

So far, it’s a smooth-running engine and, most importantly, the kids LOVE it! Seeing how happy my daughter is in this environment makes it all worthwhile and reassures me this was the best choice for us while promoting a sustainable work/life balance.

Joy Emedom

Great initiative

January 13, 2021

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