Small Group Learning Pods
As we considered how to best support families as the new school year begins, we have decided to remain committed to our “typical” model of services, as we know that this is the best-case scenario for children and families. We will run small group tutoring sessions of four children or less in our classrooms in Wayne, PA. Here is why:
Our small group-tutoring model:
Takes place is a small classroom environment with an expert teacher: the literacy environment we have built in our classrooms- where children have access to materials, books, and learning routines, is the best place they can be for learning during this unprecedented time. Not only is it important that the environment children are learning in right now looks and feels like school, we also consider this the safest place to be in comparison to groups of children learning in other people’s homes. One tutor will be working with a small group of children, and, the space will be cleaned in between each session.That tutor will be an expert in the teaching of that grade level- they will have time to prepare curriculum materials and have the experience they need.
Is small group: You have likely heard of many families seeking out “pods” for their children during anticipated school closures– these are groups of three or 4 children to safely learn with, while having the ability to socialize and collaborate—a MAJOR part of the learning. Thrive has had a small group model since our opening in 2014, small group instruction is what we do and are expert at. Children’s academic gains are greater when instructed in small groups, and, they develop closer relationships with their teacher and classmates.
Is differentiated: Right now, schools are in a position in which they will have to offer a one size fits model, no matter the scenario they choose. They will likely be spending a lot of time teaching children literacy skills and behaviors that they actually do not need, or, need a lot more of. At Thrive, we assess children to find out first what their reading, writing, and spelling strengths and needs are. Our instruction is prescriptive, focused on their interests and only on what they need to move forward. Our philosophy is about learning to love to read and write- we do this by providing engaging and motivating activities.
Is screen-free: At a young age, reading, writing, and spelling are best learned through experiences with real children’s books, authentic interactions between teacher and children, and hands-on activities in which children are using all their senses.
Here is how it will work:
Children will attend 2-hour sessions, 2 days a week. We are also open to considering 3 hours sessions, 3 days a week, by request. We think this range of time is the right amount of time children will need to devote to differentiated literacy instruction. The groups will be four or less children. They will likely be with children in the same grade level, but may have some children in the group one-grade level above or below. With such a small number of children in each group, we are still able to differentiate instruction for each child. You can sign up for one of the following time slots:
Monday/Wednesday: 9-11, 12-2, 3-5
Tuesday/Thursday: 9-11, 12-2, 3-5
We confirm the group is moving forward once we have at least three children that have signed up for the same grade/time slot. If you are able to sign up with 2-3 other families that you know and feel comfortable with, please do that. Other than that, we will match you with other children of the same grade and time slot.
The pricing structure for Small Group Tutoring is 30/per hour for K-5th grade children, and 25/hour for children currently in Pre-K (not eligible for K yet, but over 4 years old). We have lowered our hourly rate for small group tutoring to give access to supplemental instruction to more families.
K-5: 120 a week, or 720 for a 6-week session. You can pay this all at once, or in two or three installments.
Pre-K: 100 a week, or 600 for a 6-week session. You can pay this all at once, or in two or three installments.
When do the sessions start?
We will likely start the third week of September, which gives children time to adjust to their new schooling scenario, and we time to make quality plans for the program. The first session will run for 6 weeks, and then we will continue to offer 6-week sessions throughout the year, as needed during school closures.
We don’t know the choice we will make, or, the scenario our district will choose- how could we enroll now? What if my district mandates attendance at all virtual class meetings? How can I NOT attend and have my children attend these sessions instead?
If your districts are all virtual to start the school year, or, you have made the choice for your child to be all-virtual, you should have the choice as a family for them to attend some, but not all live classes during the day. We for one would not think that 5 times on a computer for 45 minutes classes is not ideal for a first grader. You also might be given instructional videos to watch on a more flexible basis, or, some combination of virtual teaching and videos. You may prioritize attendance/videos related to math, science, and social studies, and consider attending less language arts instruction, because you will be receiving 4 hours a week of quality, differentiated literacy instruction from Thrive. If we learn (because we do not know ourselves yet), that there will be requirements around attending all sessions, and/or too much required work from videos and this no longer seems like a feasible option based on your districts mandates, you can cancel your enrollment at any time.
If your districts are using a hybrid model (some days in school, some days at home), or, you have chosen the hybrid model, we have based our scheduling around the fact that many districts are choosing for children to go to school on TWO alternate days- M/W, or T/Th. In this way, you would choose for children to come to Thrive for 2 hours on the 2 days they are not in school. As far as them missing out on the virtual/at home instruction that the district may provide and/or mandate, see note above. Finally, if many districts opt for a model of 2 consecutive days in school, we will change our schedule accordingly to meet family’s needs.
Affordability is an issue. How could this work for many families?
The education our children will be getting during this pandemic is less than ideal. While districts differ in their planning, their offerings, and the professional development they will give teachers to prepare for this type of teaching—we can be sure that the literacy instruction being delivered will be wrought with challenges. The fact that we cannot provide support to ALL families because of the financial costs disheartens us greatly. We see that many educators and private businesses are attempting to profit greatly by offering “pods” and other options right now. They may be planning to do things like follow up on school “curriculums” or provide their own.
To be clear, our intention, as a business that has expertise in small group differentiated literacy instruction, is not to increase profit, but instead to support families with the assurance their children is getting quality reading and writing instruction, in addition to the opportunity to socialize and learn collaboratively, during an incredibly difficult time. Like all businesses, we have taken a financial hit in the absence of the in person services we were able to offer this summer. OUR commitment is this…if this service is popular, and, we can get back on our feet and financially sustain our business, we will quickly develop a scholarship program to make this service accessible to more families. We will offer those that can afford services the opportunity to donate to a scholarship fund that will serve other families, for a small or no cost.
I work during the day, inside or outside of the house. How could I make this work for my children?
We know this is a challenge for working families. We too are working families. The assurance we can give is that the cost-benefit for these personalized tutoring services is high, compared to the pay you put towards child care or other services. If there is way you could carpool with other families if you feel safe, each taking turns driving when you are not in meetings or in the office. Or, having a child-care provider provide transportation- that would be your best option for now.
Our decision to not offer services within family’s homes is because we know children learn best in a classroom environment with access to all the materials they need, and, we are concerned about safety with having tutors travel to multiple people’s homes. We can control the cleaning and disinfection needed in our own space. If families are aware of other space to rent in communities closer to their houses, we’d be open to considering other spaces as well.
Even though there are less that 4 children in a class, what other safety precautions will be put into place?
Our health and safety plan can be requested during enrollment. It includes frequent cleaning, distancing, mask breaks and staff monitoring.