Frequently Asked Questions
What are Pods?
Pods are typically groups of 4-6 children who meet on school days to learn and socialize together in-person. These groups are sometimes called Microschools, however, unlike a Mircroschool, Nautilus Learning Pods use the online curriculum provided by your local school district and we adhere to state regulations regarding your child's education. Each Pod is unique, but typically a Pod will be made of up of a multiage group of students from a few different families. Members of a Pod agree to follow similar social distancing guidelines. At Nautilus Learning Pods, all students must be enrolled in an online or hybrid school program through their local school district.
Why would parents choose Pods?
Pods are an immediate solution for a new problem facing families. As more and more school districts announce building closures for the fall and transition to virtual learning, parents have only a short time to figure out how they can manage both work and school. For parents who work outside the home, they need to find stable and reliable supervision and care for the children. For those who work at home, it is almost impossible to guide children through virtual school work and still get work done. For children who no longer have social interaction and contact with peers, a new set of mental health challenges have arisen from the pandemic. By helping families form Pods and find a qualified Pod Leader, we are offering a solution to these challenges, while potentially reducing the risk of virus exposure that would come with a traditional school experience.
Who are Pod Leaders?
Pod Leaders run the daily activities of the Pod, which include following the district provided online curriculum as well facilitate enrichment activities in STEAM, service learning, mindfulness, literacy and other topics through the curriculum provided by NLP. A Pod Leader manages the Pod on a daily basis, creating a schedule and adhering to virtual school assignments, helping kids with academic concepts, and creating space for fun and play. The Pod Leader also maintains a healthy and safe environment for learning and growth, as well as works with the family and teacher to help each student do their best to reach milestones and progress while taking part in remote learning.
Where do Pods meet?
Where a Pod meets is up to the families in the Pod. Each Pod will have a different set of priorities and availability when it comes to space, but here are a few ideas of where Pods might meet up:
We highly suggest meeting outdoors when possible. This may be the home of one family with an amenable space such as a deck, large yard, etc.
Using a rec room, bonus room or office space inside someone's home
If available, use an ADU, a mother-in-law, yurt or another space available on their property
Alternating homes so one family has the Pod each day of the week
Small pods may work around a kitchen table, living room or other main living space in a home
Some families may consider rented spaces, but this would be additional to the costs of using our services
What ages do you serve?
We will work with families with students in any grade level, PreK-12, though the majority of children participating in Pods are in Kindergarten through 8th grade.
What about Safety?
Pod Leaders are trained in the safety and health guidelines provided by the Washington State Department of Health. Pods are limited to 8 children at this time, and families are asked to sign an agreement about social distancing and a waiver before entering into the contract with the Pod Leader and Nautilus Learning Pods. All Pods will submit weekly health surveys and daily temperature checks, per the Washington State Childcare guidelines as well as regular hand-washing and wearing masks. Each Pod and Pod Leader will have a unique set of protocols and responsibilities based on the amount of social distancing they are able to adhere to in their work and life, and may include each child having individual supplies, wearing masks, and keeping 6 feet of social distancing where possible.
What about questions of equity?
As parents have begun to popularize the idea of "Pandemic Pods" valid and serious concerns around issues of equity, especially racial inequity have surfaced. Wealthier parents are better able to afford to hire private teachers and provide space for learning in their homes. These families are also more likely to form Pods together, perpetuating race and class divisions. Many of these families are leaving the public school system, which decreases the funding for all students, especially those in need. We take these issues seriously. In order to do what we can to promote equity while developing Pod Learning we:
Require you to keep your students enrolled in your public school system by signing up for the virtual school/hybrid programs that your public school system offers. This ensures that your public school system keeps their funding.
Provide sliding-scale or scholarship spots in every Pod to ensure those who want to participate In Pod Learning are able to
Pay Pod Leaders what they deserve for the work they do, ensuring that we are not contributing to the wage-gap that affects many childcare workers and educators
Service Learning is a part of each program, allowing children to think critically about how they can use their own ideas and resources to make their communities better
To better understand these issues we recommend that you read this article by Shayla R. Griffin, PhD, MSW, about “The Social Justice Dilemma of Pandemic Pod Schools for Privileged Parents”. It provides a comprehensive and actionable analysis of these questions.
Nautilus Learning Pods was developed based on the idea that all children and families deserve to have an educational model that fits their needs.
A child's social, emotional and academic needs are all equally important
Young children learn best through play, discovery and direct experience
The best learning happens when children feel known, cared for and safe
Relationship building is the cornerstone of teaching
Communities are strengthened when people come together to promote the well-being of all children
Every child in America should have the same access to a high-quality public education — regardless of financial circumstance, the color of their skin or where they live
Educators and childcare providers in the United States are underpaid and undervalued. We all need to work together to enact policies and reform to increase teacher and childcare salaries
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, the excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.
“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.”
The knowledge and skills to educate all children already exist. There are no pedagogical barriers to teaching and learning when willing people are prepared and made available to children.
Asa G. Hilliard