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As School Starts Back Up In 2021, Checking In On Learning Pods In Southern California

Second and third grade students attend class in person at an art gallery turned learning pod on October 01, 2020 in New York City.
Second and third grade students attend class in person at an art gallery turned learning pod on October 01, 2020 in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, distance learning has become the reality for students across the country. But it’s no secret at this point that not every child thrives in a distance learning environment. This is especially apparent in preschool and elementary-age children, who in their developing years thrive on the kind of in-person interaction and play-based learning that was a staple in pre-pandemic curriculum. 

For those parents who want their children to continue to have that in-person interaction with both classmates and their teacher despite the pandemic, learning pods and “microschools” have been a supplement, and in some cases an alternative, to the distance learning provided by many school districts. As AirTalk explained in a segment we did during the summer of 2020, they are small groups of children, usually less than 10, who learn together in a “classroom” setting, often with a teacher or tutor that the families of the children hire to design curriculum for and teach their children. But these learning pods don’t come without their own challenges. Despite the small sizes, different parents have different ideas of what a safe environment looks like and what kind of curriculum their child should be learning. Learning pods also raise questions about equity in education, as some may not be able to afford or have access to a pod in their area.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll check in on the state of learning pods and microschools in Los Angeles -- how are they doing, what lessons have parents, teachers and pod organizers learned in the process, and how have they navigated the challenges of making sure both parents and children are getting the education they need in a safe environment. If you’re a learning pod or microschool organizer or a parent of a child who is in a learning pod or microschool, we want to hear from you! How has your experience been so far? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and how have you navigated them? We’re taking your calls at 866-893-5722.


Naomi Leight Give’on, CEO and founder of PodSkool, a Los Angeles-based company that matches families and learning pods with professional teachers, providing curriculum, administrative and legal support; she tweets @NomiLite