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Friday, April 29, 2022

From Pandemic Playgroups to a Thriving Microschool: How One “Edupreneur” Met Rising Parent Demand for Schooling Alternatives

Now is an ideal time for more parents, educators, and innovators to build new K-12 learning models.

Image: Unsplash

Ada Salie heard a lot of complaints. Parents were upset about what was happening in their children’s schools last fall, and were reluctant to send their children back. Many of the parents she heard from had pulled their children out of a district school for homeschooling during the 2020/2021 academic year—something that millions of parents did that year, according to US Census Bureau data. They wanted a place to send their children in fall 2021, but many didn’t want their kids masked all day or contending with various other school policies.

Ada decided to turn those complaints into an opportunity. The Massachusetts mother of three had been running playgroups and offering gatherings and activities for homeschooled children throughout the pandemic response. She decided to make these offerings more formal. So, last August she leased a building in central Massachusetts and launched Life Rediscovered, a homeschool learning center that attracted dozens of children, ages 5 to 13. The children can attend part-time or full-time, and engage in Montessori-inspired learning activities and plenty of play. 

On this week’s LiberatED podcast, Ada Salie shares how she launched her program, including the ups and downs of education entrepreneurship and her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who are dreaming of launching a similar microschool or schooling alternative.

Ada’s story is familiar. Other parents and educators who created informal “pandemic pods” and co-ops during school shutdowns evolved those programs into brick-and-mortar businesses as well. Ada thinks the parent demand for such programs is enormous. 

“I don’t think there’s going to be any shortage of kids and families looking for services, but right now I do see a shortage of services,” says Ada. “We have families that drive up to an hour to get to us because there’s nothing in their area.”

With the Associated Press recently reporting that homeschooling rates remain at record high levels this academic year despite school reopenings, and public school enrollment declines continuing, now is an ideal time for more parents, educators, and innovators to build new K-12 learning models.

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