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How to Start a Microschool: A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Own Microschool

Gaby Narvaez with her microschool families of Popcorn Academy in Coral Springs, Florida

Written by Iman Alleyne; Founder and CEO of Kind Academy; an award-winning network of personalized and project-based microschools for future leaders. Since 2013, my journey has been dedicated to reshaping education.

Wondering how to launch your microschool? I have been in the microschool world for almost a decade and I am excited to finally share a step-by-step guide to get started on your journey to launching your innovative learning programs.

Today, we're exploring the world of launching microschools. First, let's start with what a microschool is. Different people have varying ideas on what constitutes a microschool and there isn't one true definition of it yet, but here are 7 key features I see in most microschools:

1. Small School or Small Teacher-to-Student Ratio (1:8):

Maintaining a small teacher-to-student ratio ensures personalized attention, fostering meaningful connections between educators and students. A smaller class size creates an intimate learning environment that promotes active participation and more individualized support. The school is typically smaller as well and may contain anywhere from 5 students up to 100.

2. Joyful Learning:

Microschools infuse classrooms with enthusiasm, curiosity, and playfulness, fostering a love for learning that extends beyond the academic curriculum.

3. Personalization:

Microschools recognize the uniqueness of each learner. This approach tailors the educational experience to individual needs, allowing students to thrive at their own pace.

4. Diversity:

Microschools embrace diversity, creating an environment that acknowledges and respects differences in backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and perspectives.

5. Inclusivity:

Beyond accommodation, microschools actively integrate various learning styles and individual strengths, ensuring that every student feels seen, heard, and valued.

6. Project-Based Learning:

A cornerstone of microschool methodology, project-based learning empowers students to apply knowledge in real-world contexts, cultivating essential skills such as collaboration and critical thinking.

7. Accessible

Most progressive microschools aim to make their microschools affordable for learners of different socioeconomic backgrounds. This ensures we are changing education for everyone, and not just families who have a higher income.

In a time where traditional education models are evolving rapidly, microschools have emerged as a revolutionary alternative, providing a tailored and bespoke learning experience. If you're passionate about education and dream of making a difference in students' lives, launching a microschool could be the perfect venture. In this extensive guide, I will delve deeper into the essential steps to turn your vision into a thriving microschool, blending your passion for education with future trends. Here is the step by step to launching your very own microschool!

Step 1. Define Your Vision and Mission: Find Your Why

Before diving into the logistics, take the time to think about your why. What is your vision and mission? What will set your microschool apart? What values will guide your educational approach? Clearly defining your purpose will not only attract like-minded educators and parents but will also serve as a guiding light in decision-making.

To develop a compelling vision, consider the core principles that inspire you. Reflect on your personal experiences, educational philosophy, and the impact you wish to have on your students. Your mission statement should encapsulate the essence of your microschool, serving as a beacon that aligns your team and community toward a common goal.

Step 2. Conduct Market Research and Make a Money Plan:

Understanding your local educational landscape is important. Conduct thorough market research to identify the needs and preferences of parents and students in your area. Research what other educational programs are out there, assess the demand for non-traditional education and pinpoint the unique selling points that will make your microschool stand out. A good idea is to identify gaps in the current educational offerings and tailor your microschool's approach to address these needs. By doing this upfront, you can also determine how to price your microschool. Make sure your tuition is at a point that will allow your program to be sustainable for years to come. Make a budget based on your market research and you should be good to go!

Step 3. Legal and Regulatory Compliance:

Ensure that you comply with all local and state regulations for starting and operating an educational institution. Regulations may vary, so it's essential to do your due diligence. Researching your state's Department of Education website or consulting with educational consultants can provide valuable insights.

Consult legal experts to create a comprehensive compliance plan. This includes obtaining the necessary licenses, permits, and adhering to safety and health standards. Establish clear protocols for record-keeping, reporting, and accountability. Connecting with established microschool networks or associations can provide additional support and insights into compliance best practices. Yes. Every. Kid is an excellent resource for navigating laws around microschools.

Deciding what type of microschool you will start will also determine what laws will apply to you. It may even help in deciding what path to take. Starting a microschool preschool will typically have a lot more regulation than a learning center for school-aged kids.

Step 4. Create a Curriculum:

Design a dynamic and engaging curriculum tailored to the needs of your learners. Incorporating project-based learning, experiential activities, and real-world applications is important in our microschools. Being flexible is key, allowing you to adapt and refine your curriculum based on student feedback and evolving educational trends.

Crafting a curriculum requires a delicate balance between supporting academics and fostering creativity for a more future-focused education. We generally use AI tools to fill academic gaps, small group learning with a guide to connect, and project-based learning studies to create a joyful learning experience.

Step 5. Find a Space

Finding a space to start your microschool doesn't have to be difficult. We started our first microschool in a local park, then partnered with a community center that was unused during the day. Choose a location that aligns with your microschool's mission and caters to the needs of your learners. Whether it's a dedicated space, tutoring center, or even in outside in nature; ensure that the environment fosters collaboration, creativity, and a sense of community. Community partnerships with local businesses or cultural institutions can also enrich the learning environment.

Step 6. Find Your People

Recruit passionate and skilled educators who align with your vision. A cohesive and dedicated team is fundamental to the success of a microschool. Foster a collaborative culture, encourage professional development, and ensure everyone is committed to delivering a high-quality education.

Building a team goes beyond hiring qualified educators; it involves creating a community of families, mentors, and learners. Establish a process that evaluates qualifications, cultural fit, and commitment to your microschool's mission. Invest in ongoing development to keep your team up to date on the latest educational trends and pedagogical approaches. Regular team-building and community activities can strengthen interpersonal relationships and create a positive school environment.

Step 7. Craft a Marketing Strategy:

Develop a marketing plan to spread the word about your microschool. I generally suggest starting with 3 types of marketing. Leveraging digital marketing channels, such as social media, creating a well-designed website, and posting in local groups are great first steps to letting the world know about your program. Some other great ideas are to attend community events, collaborate with local influencers, and consider offering workshops or information sessions.

Marketing your microschool involves creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your target audience. Utilize storytelling techniques to communicate your mission and showcase success stories. Collaborate with local media outlets for coverage, engage in community outreach, and establish partnerships with parent associations. Encourage your team to be ambassadors for the microschool, leveraging their networks to amplify your message.

Step 8. Embrace Technology:

Incorporate technology to enhance the learning experience. Utilize educational platforms, communication tools, and interactive resources that align with your curriculum. Embracing technology not only keeps your microschool on the cutting edge but also prepares students for the digital age.

Technology integration should be intentional and purposeful. Conduct thorough research on ed-tech tools that complement your teaching philosophy and enhance student engagement. Some of the favorites among microschool founders are Kahn Academy, IXL, and Zearn. Provide training for your educators to effectively integrate technology into their teaching methods, ensuring a seamless and enriching learning experience for students.

Step 9. Establish Community Partnerships:

Forge partnerships with local businesses, organizations, and experts in various fields. These collaborations can provide enriching experiences for your students, offer valuable resources, and strengthen your microschool's ties to the community.

Building a network of partnerships requires strategic planning and relationship-building. Identify organizations that align with your microschool's values and mission. We loved partnering with Surf Skate Science last year to learn STEM through action sports and have a local Coding company called Wize Computer Academy come out to teach our kids robotics. Explore joint initiatives, such as field trips, workshops, or guest lectures, to bring real-world experiences into the classroom. Reciprocal relationships benefit both parties, fostering a sense of community support for your microschool. During our last cohort, two potential microschool founders decided to join forces to launch PLAY Academy! This is a perfect example of how to utilize partnerships to grow.

Step 10. Keep Growing and Improving

Regularly evaluate and adjust your microschool's strategies based on feedback and evolving educational trends. Stay informed about the latest pedagogical approaches, technology advancements, and societal changes to ensure your microschool remains innovative and relevant.

Continuous improvement is a mindset that permeates every aspect of your microschool. Implement a feedback loop, soliciting input from students, parents, and educators. Utilize data to assess the effectiveness of your teaching methods and curriculum. Stay connected with educational thought leaders and attend conferences to stay abreast of cutting-edge practices. Foster a culture of adaptability and continuous learning among your team, encouraging them to embrace change as a catalyst for improvement.

Step 11. Get Support and Inspiration:

Expand your educational horizons by delving into the works of Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned advocate for creativity in education. His insights on reimagining the education system align with the philosophy of many microschools. Additionally, watch the YouTube video "Homeschooling Makes Me Happy" to gain perspectives from homeschooling families, shedding light on alternative education approaches.

Another way to get inspired is by visiting or following other microschools on social media. A few amazing networks you may have near you are Acton Academy, WildFlower Academy, Colossal Academy, Prenda, KaiPod Learning, and of course our network; Kind Academy. These schools also have catalyst programs that help you start your own school/innovative learning program so check them out and get coaching on your journey! If you like the idea of starting a joy-filled, passion-based, and diverse program, see our Launch Your Kind fellowship program here.

If you can't get to a microschool or don't have one nearby following schools like ours on social media will be valuable. Compass Outreach and Education Center, Tapestry Academy, The Lab School of Memphis, Horizon Learning, The Hive Interactive, and Flex Learning Academy are at the top of our list of inspiring programs. Listening to the LiberatED podcast by Kerry McDonald, and reading articles about microschools are other key ways to get inspired!

Finally, getting support from programs like Microschool Solutions and The National Microschooling Center are great ideas and a wonderful way to network as you build your dream school!

Well, I hope that was helpful for you! Launching a microschool is a bold and rewarding step that can revolutionize education in your community. By combining your passion for teaching with a strategic approach, adherence to regulations, and a commitment to continuous improvement, you can create a microschool that not only survives but thrives in the ever-evolving landscape of education. As you commence on this exciting journey, remember that the impact of your microschool extends far beyond the classroom, shaping the future of education for generations to come. Stay inspired, stay innovative, and watch as your microschool transforms lives and redefines the educational experience.