Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s expected parents might worry about their child falling behind in their studies. There may also be hesitancy to experiment with different ways of schooling. We at Cardinal Education believe that learning pods can be an important tool for success, and a way for children to have more of the social interaction and in-person instruction they’re used to at school.
Learning pods have certainly become the buzz of this fall semester, as schools opt for remote learning. According to Google Trends, more people are googling learning pods than ever before.
So what are learning pods? And how do you and your children get the most out of the pods?
What is a Learning Pod?
Learning pods are small groups of students that learn together in-person while still virtually attending their online classes. While they might not always look the exact same, the purpose is generally to ensure structure and collaboration between students.
By grouping students into a pod, the risk for coronavirus exposure is not high, and there is usually some sort of agreement made where all of the members of the pods are honest about their health and activities and agree to remain socially distant from others outside of the pod.
Best Practices for Learning Pods
In order to get the most out of learning pods, we at Cardinal Education recommend several practices.
- The optimal size of a pod is 2-6 students, so that students can interact and learn without too high of an exposure risk, or too many distractions.
- It’s important to have consistency in a schedule. Learning pods are meant to mimic in-person learning and study habits that go along with that, so it’s best if there is a structure to the overall schedule and routine of the group.
- There should be regular breaks in learning, especially outdoor activities if possible. The change from in-person learning to online is certainly taxing for students of all ages, so having scheduled breaks where they can interact with one another is a must.
- The facilitator can be a hired teacher, tutor, or even a parent, but they should make sure they create rules for the group to follow, similar to if they were in school like normal. This also allows for structure, but it’s important for the facilitator to also follow the rules set, as that ensures accountability on whoever is helping the children.
There are many benefits to learning pods, but in general, just being together can help students, including those with learning differences. Students can help each other learn, by raising questions others may be nervous about asking. They can also interact and collaborate together, brainstorming ideas that will help them all succeed. Learning pods can be good for building social skills for younger children, or giving older students a chance to interact in-person with their peers. Pods can also help students stay motivated and productive, as they have a more set schedule and are responsible, but not alone, in their success.
Since learning pods are smaller than regular classrooms, the benefits of small class learning apply to them as well. A study done by the National Education Association found that “that in kindergarten classes of 13-17 students, children performed at a level that was roughly a month ahead of students in classes consisting of 22-25 students by the end of the year.” This means that pods offer an opportunity for your student to get more individualized attention, which can further confidence and success.
As the coronavirus rages on and changes to our daily lives become the new norm, it’s crucial that students not fall behind in their learning, or feel isolated and alone. Learning pods can provide that essential connection between facilitator and student, or between students and their peers. Students can still succeed during this precarious time, and accomplish what they set their focus on. Learning pods offer a vital tool for doing just that.