With the uncertain future of in-person school systems, the social and emotional toll on our children is becoming more evident by the day. Kids need to be around their peers and the positive impact of this on academic learning cannot be overstated.
For their safety, children are being kept at home and away from social structures and peer interaction at a critical time in their development. Enter a solution: home learning pods or micro-schools. Many families have already realized the value of this kind of childcare arrangement and are putting structures in place to engage in those opportunities for their child’s benefit.
Some families see learning pods as a glorified nanny share or that online learning supervision is easier than typical nanny duties; this could not be further from the truth. Some of the first to recognize this are leaders with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (NDWA), an organization dedicated to elevating and supporting the lives of domestic workers across the country.
NDWA has developed helpful guidelines and insight for creating fair and supportive learning pod arrangements that will benefit workers and families alike. The categories include number of families/children, fair compensation and working conditions, expectations and roles of teachers vs online learning supervisors (or pod leaders), and written family agreements.
Pod Size and Structure:
- No more than three families and four children involved in a single pod
- Smaller than four children if there are special needs involved
- No more than two different age groups per pod
- No additional children dropped off or requiring supervision outside the pod group
- Younger siblings or infants split the focus of even the most accomplished pod leader and reduce support for all children involved
Compensation and Employer Responsibilities
- Fair minimum compensation depending on the number of children in the pod:
- $18 per hour for 1 child
- $26 per hour for 2 children
- $30 per hour for 3 children
- Paid time off is critical
- All families are equally responsible for wages and working conditions
- Pod leader still gets paid the full amount if one child is kept home sick
- If one family leaves the pod, wage level is maintained for a minimum of 8 weeks
Differences between Pod Leaders and Teachers
- A pod leader is not a teacher or tutor
- Families must:
- Provide full orientation of platforms and technology required for virtual learning
- Manage expectations for all and provide supplies and information from the school and teachers
- Agree on any extra routines or care the children will need in writing
- Prioritize and clarify health and safety measures for everyone involved
Schedule and Location
- To reduce health risks there should be one location that hosts the pod, when possible
- If two locations are needed, the interval between location switches should be long (weeks or months)
- Supplies must be provided at each location and not be transferred from house to house
- Coordinated vacations and guaranteed pay are essential for a fair working arrangement
- Parents must pick up their children on time
More detailed information and recommendations are available at the following address:
The source of this information is part of a collaborative effort between the worker led organization NDWA and the employer training organization Hand in Hand. Both have innumerable resources for parents and workers and, together, we can uplift and invest in domestic work in the United States. These efforts by community organizations, workers, and families can bring this invisible workforce out of the shadows and ensure that those who drive our economy and care for our most vulnerable populations are given the support they deserve.