Published Date: 07/31/20
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Pandemic pods and microschools are the current trend in education as states and school districts across the country announce plans to engage children in either full-time or part-time distance learning in the fall. Parents are scrambling to figure out how to balance their child’s educational needs with their own need for childcare.
As parents establish and join these pandemic pods and microschools there’s a conversation that isn’t happening but needs to. It’s a conversation around discipline.
It’s nice to believe that a group of four to six children, often strangers, will all happily play and work together without conflict. It’s nice to believe that no individual child within a pandemic pod or microschool – and certainly not your own – will exhibit undesired behaviors and disrupt others’ learning. But, while it’s nice, it’s not realistic.
Within pandemic pods and microschools, there will be conflict and there will be behavioral issues that need to be addressed.
Whether your pod leader is a hired educator, a sitter, or another parent, they’ll be left to address behavioral problems that arise and prior to making any pod agreements you need to have discussions around discipline so you and the pod leader are both prepared with appropriate action when it happens.
As a parent, when evaluating what pandemic pod or microschool you’ll join or who you allow into one you created, you should be having upfront conversations about discipline style and expectations. If you’re a parent who believes in and practices positive discipline, but your pod leader takes a punitive approach, you’re likely going to left upset and angry if you hear that your child was put in a time out during the session.
Parents and educators also have widely varying ideas of what behaviors require discipline. You’ve likely been at the playground when someone else’s child does something you feel is egregious, but the child’s parent simply ignores it or brushes it off as no big deal. It’s not a good feeling when this occurs.
When discussing structure with potential pandemic pod and microschool partners, what considerations need to happen around discipline?
- Specifically determine in advance who is responsible for discipline. If a pod leader is someone other than the parent present, will they be responsible or will the get the parent who is on site, assuming there is one?
- If your pandemic pod or microschool leader is not a parent and you expect them to discipline children, you must have that conversation in advance and discuss what experience they have with discipline. In many cases, even experienced tutors have only worked in one-on-one situations and have not been responsible for it in the past.
- Have honest conversations around your personal discipline style and what your expectations are from the other families in your pod.
- Discuss with potential pod partners specific methods of disciple you find acceptable and ones you find unacceptable. Will discipline be punitive or positive? This includes use of time ins and time outs, children being sent home for the day, suspended, or even expelled. You personally may think pandemic pod and microschools shouldn’t function like school does with respect to those punishments, but there are most definitely families who do and you need to be on the same page.
- If you do utilize traditional school discipline methods like suspensions in your microschool, you should include contract terms regarding payment during those times.
- Determine what behaviors require discipline in advance. You won’t be able to account for every behavior problem that has the potential to occur, but major ones, like physical violence, name calling, and bullying must be accounted for in advance.
- Create a discipline and incident reporting system and ensure your pod leader uses it. An incident, especially a minor one, that occurs early in the session may be forgotten about by the time a parent picks up a child.
- Set children up for success. Establish the pandemic pod or microschool leader as an authority figure before the first day.
Pandemic pods and microschools can prove to be tremendous support systems for both parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thinking through discipline considerations in advance and formalizing how discipline will be handled and reported can help ensure all pod participants are on the same page and both families and any hired educator you bring in remain happy and productive. Search and post pods, microschools, and tutors free now.
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