Chris Bennett is the co-founder and CEO of Wonderschool, a company with a mission to provide high-quality early childhood education to every child. Wonderschool is a network of early childhood programs that combine the quality standards of world-class educators with the warmth of an in-home program. Chris Bennett has been championing the notion of a micro-school for several years now, well before the pandemic made popular the concept of a “Pandemic Pod”.
A micro-school is a small and intimate learning environment. Typically has few students between 10 and 150 of mixed age and located in an intimate, home-like community and environment.
Any current education system must continually adapt and change to keep pace with the needs of the future. For large schools with a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum, this change can be a struggle. Micro Schools provide flexibility in terms of learning environments, schedules, and curriculum. Small classes provide a better ability for teachers to create personalized learning programs to guide and support students in all aspects, including academics, 21st-century skill development like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs and integrated learning, and social-emotional needs.
The pandemic, with forced online and remote learning, brings further focus to this concept of micro-schools. Working parents have more onus upon them for child-care and while managing the pressures of a full-time job. Parents also find that this new remote learning can be isolating and inadequate for the holistic development of their children. Out of necessity, parents have started organizing micro-schools, that we are now calling “Pandemic Pods”.
Micro schools and pandemic pods have lasting benefits for our children, however, they also pose a host of challenges ranging quality of education, equity, and segregation.
Chris, through Wonderschool, is working to address these challenges while making it easy for educators to start and operate successful programs, and for families to find them to provide the best early childhood education. Their vision is to create programs that are child-centred, growth-minded, and safety-focused that ensure great experiences for children and create trust with parents.
Resources & Links
Wonderschool Parent Resources on Child Care, Funding and More
NY Times Article on Pandemic Pods