What to Consider When Starting a Prenda Microschool

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Thinking about starting a microschool in your community? 

Prenda specializes in publicly-funded microschools, largely made possible through universal ESA funding in certain states. We also help individuals start direct-pay microschools in states without public funding availability. 

Microschools are small learning environments led by caring adults we call guides. And while not all microschools are Prenda-powered and led by a Prenda guide, Prenda is the leader in the microschool segment, having launched over 1,000 microschools nationwide. 

Whether you’re thinking about starting a microschool in the Prenda network or independently, read on for 6 important considerations and processes as you begin your microschooling journey.

1. Consider Safety and Other Protections

Consider the prospective parent's need for safety when they search for a microschool for their children. 

At Prenda, we prioritize safety by requiring all microschool guides to pass a federal background check annually. Additionally, adults residing in the microschool location, such as spouses and adult children, must complete a background check. 

And although not mandatory, many of our guides have CPR and first aid training and other safety certifications that address parent concerns.

As you market your microschool to parents, it's beneficial to highlight your safety credentials. Our microschool directory allows guides to promote their certifications, giving parents peace of mind:

The safety section of a guide profile on the microschool directory

💡 It’s important to know that Prenda strongly advises that parents conduct their due diligence when finding a microschool, as background checks are only one aspect of child safety. 

2. Microschool LLCs and Insurance 

Microschool guides often establish a limited liability company (LLC) for their microschool and purchase liability insurance for additional protections. These additional components are not required or provided by Prenda, however. 

While obtaining liability insurance for microschools can be challenging due to their relatively new emergence, several Prenda guides have successfully obtained affordable and comprehensive coverage. Details about these providers are often shared in the Prenda Community, an exclusive and extensive network for microschools guides to connect and share information:

From a virtual info-sharing session with guides from Prenda Community

LLCs are also popular amounts guides but know Prenda cannot advise you in this setup. We do connect guides to share their business practices regularly, however:

Connect with the Prenda Community to discover recommended insurance providers and gain insights into other successful microschool operations if you partner with Prenda for your microschool.

👀 Psst…want a sneak peek into the Prenda Community? Read on for information on how to access our free course, The Beginner’s Guide to Microschooling, where you’ll be able to meet others like you early in their journey. Or go here if you simply can’t wait. 

3. Daily Microschool Operations 

Before you market your microschool, consider your desired day-to-day microschool operations keeping in mind logistics are of great importance to parents. 

Prenda guides typically operate Monday through Thursday, with 5 to 6-hour school days spread over a 10-month calendar. Prenda allows flexibility; schedules may vary based on guide preferences. This flexibility includes virtual and hybrid components to accommodate diverse learning and logistical needs. The schedule choice is yours (but consult parents.)

To provide parents with upfront information, we include microschool schedules and other details in a dedicated section of each profile on our microschool directory. This way, parents can understand the daily operations before committing to a microschool:

The microschool schedule and basic details section of a guide profile on the microschool directory

Make sure to establish clear guidelines and transparent operations, communicating them to current and prospective parents. 

4. Pricing Microschool Fees

Prenda guides choose their per-student rate. We call this a Guide fee. 

The average Guide fee is around $4,000 per student (or around $2,900 for kindergarteners) in our ESA and direct pay-funded microschools. Guides determine their fee. 

Consider all costs related to your school and your desired annual income. Work backward to determine better how to price your per-student rate. Things like rent, wear and tear, supplies and field trips, and insurance costs (if applicable), among other considerations, should be factored into setting your Guide fee. 

Prenda guide Trina Jackson presented her thought process on determining her Guide Fee during a presentation to guides in Prenda Community. Trina charges $1,000 per student/per quarter (or $4,000 per student/per year):

From guide Trina Jackson on the costs associated with guiding and how to determine your per-student fee for compensation

Prenda charges families an additional $2,199 per student ($1,499 for kindergarteners), covering the cost of software, curriculum, digital learning tool licenses, support, and community. Parent billing and payment processing are also part of Prenda’s service. 

If applicable, funding via ESA funds is subject to the state's ESA policy. If you decide not to open a microschool powered by Prenda and rely on ESA funds for compensation, we recommend reviewing your state's vendor requirements. This will help you determine if you meet the eligibility criteria to receive payment directly through parents' ESA funds. 

Alternatively, Prenda enables compensation for many guides by serving as vendors in states with ESA funding.

5. Marketing Your Microschool

To attract parents, it is crucial to market your microschool effectively. Prenda guides are listed in our microschool directory, and we encourage guides to create compelling profiles. 

If you look at a few guide profiles, you’ll notice most have an array of photos, operating hours, microschool details, and thoughtful bios:

Bio from Prenda guide Jolinn Robison from the microschool directory

Such transparency builds interest and trust in potential parents. Guides who take the time to complete their profiles tend to have higher engagement rates, as parents are more likely to reach out to them if they include photos and a bio.

We also enable connection between parents and guides on Facebook:

A weekly rally on Facebook for parents and guides looking to connect and fill Prenda microschools 

Guides can also market their microschools through standalone business pages on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or by creating microschool websites.

While word-of-mouth efforts play a significant role in attracting families, we provide our guides with a range of branded marketing materials to support their promotional efforts.

These materials include resources for events, bulletin board promotions, yard signs, and to arm the parents of their current students to refer friends. By equipping our guides with these materials, we empower them to effectively reach out to their communities and generate interest in their microschools.

We've found that successful microschools often have nearby microschools, fostering a supportive environment for growth and learning. Our local Community Builder programs (part of Prenda Community) allow guides in the same area to connect, share experiences, and refer families to each other. 

6. Curating Curriculum for Your Microschool

At Prenda, our operational software supports a student-centered learning model based on Prenda's four modes of learning: Connect, Conquer, Create, and Collaborate. 

Guides have access to over 20 mastery-based digital learning tools like iReady, Lexia, and Zearn, as well as the dashboard needed to obtain the progress insights of their students:

Digital learning tools and the Clever hub used by Prenda guides in microschools as part of the mastery-based curriculum in Conquer Mode

Guides curate the curriculum for the Conquer mode based on student needs and interests. Physical workbooks and project-based curriculum digital learning are included to support the Create and Collaborate modes:

Examples of social studies project-based curriculum used in Collboarte mode in Prenda microschools. Students work together to select projects of interest from the activity library. 

In Connect mode, guides and students focus on community, autonomy, mindset, and purpose (CAMP) concepts to promote inquiry and self-driven learning:

A discussion prompt for students to consider together and elaborate on in a related activity for Connect mode

Microschool guides using ESA or private (direct pay) funds also can supplement their day with any outside curriculum of their choice, provided that curriculum is made known to parents. 

Starting a Microschool

If you're interested in starting a microschool, whether a Prenda microschool or a non-Prenda microschool, this information will guide you in the right direction. We offer a free course with more in-depth information that is available to the public:

You can sign up for The Beginner's Guide to Microschooling here

If you’re ready to launch a microschool or want to explore our software and support systems future, click here to get started!

You will be prompted to provide some basic details and start your self-guided microschool checklist:

The onboarding checklist you’ll see upon launching your microschool

Our supportive staff, thriving microschool guide community, and comprehensive software are here to help you launch your microschool successfully.

Start your microschool today!

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