How to start a homeschool pod, and why to include yoga

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How to start a homeschool pod, and why to include yoga

Wondering how to start a pandemic pod? Want to include wellness activities like yoga? Here’s how to incorporate kids yoga into your microschool or homeschool group.

By Jeanell Birk, contributing writer

By now you’re most likely familiar with the term “pandemic pod” and how these small homeschool or remote learning groups can benefit your family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a nutshell, a homeschool pod is typically a small group of three to six students who meet in person during the school week. Some pods hire a teacher or tutor while others function like a traditional homeschool co-op – with parents taking turns teaching and supervising the students. 

There are many reasons families are starting or joining pandemic pods for school this fall. For example, you may not want your children to return to school for safety reasons. Or, you may be looking for consistent socialization as remote learning can be a solitary experience for kids. 

For these and many more reasons, forming a pandemic pod can be an excellent option for you and your family. 

Read on to learn more about how to start a homeschool pod, establishing guidelines, and why you should include enrichment activities like kids yoga. 

How to start a homeschool pod

By now, you may still feel completely in the dark as to how to go about finding or starting a microschool in your area. 

For starters, you can try finding a pandemic pod by searching local Facebook groups for pods that are already forming. This is a great way to find local families with similar goals in mind. Another option is to pod up with families who have children of similar ages to your own kids. Or, perhaps you can connect with moms from your kids’ school or ask around in your neighborhood. 

If all of this seems too daunting of a process, there are companies who have set out to help families start and find pods, like Schoolhouse, Learning Pods and Unschool. Other companies, including Pretzel Kids yoga, are helping families integrate yoga and mindfulness into their pods – something so important during these stressful times! 

Once you’ve found families who will make up your “pod”, it’s best to agree on some basic guidelines in regards to the following: 

Health and safety: Wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands often, and limiting socialization to within the group are common practices within pandemic pods.

Who will be teaching?: Will you and the other parents pitch in with the teaching efforts, or will you go the route of hiring an outside teacher or tutor? Hiring a teacher or tutor can be extremely helpful for parents who work fulltime and have a solid budget. Many families reach out to their local Facebook groups to find their teachers, while others might contact a local teaching college or a nanny/sitter resource. If this all seems like it’s too much to handle, companies like Selected will help you hire a teacher. 

Budget: If you don’t hire an outside teacher, then creating a pod should be fairly affordable. It may only require pooling together funds for some school and project supplies, or hiring a kids yoga teacher. Conversely, if you do end up hiring a teacher to teach and supervise your children, you will have to agree on a set budget that everyone in the pod is comfortable with.

Schedule: Deciding on how many days per week and hours per day is dependent on whether you’re supplementing your child’s remote learning schedule, or completely foregoing remote learning to create a curriculum on your own. 

Curriculum: Many pandemic pods will continue remote learning with their school, and therefore, the curriculum is already decided upon. For the families who opt for a more traditional homeschool co-op style pod, deciding on curriculum can get a bit more laborious. Luckily, there are already homeschool curriculums out there – you just may need to do a little research. Also, be sure to research your state’s laws and requirements for homeschooling. 

Besides academics, what should I include in my curriculum?

This is a good question. When considering your curriculum, it’s important to note that academics aren’t the only factor. The whole reason you may be creating or joining a pod may be because you want your children to get a dose of mental well-being as well as socialization with other children and an opportunity for movement to replace in-school physical education.

This is where kids yoga comes in! Yoga for children and teens fills a much needed gap in homeschooling when it comes to physical and mental well-being. Plus, yoga is a great way to teach kids to cope with stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are 4 reasons why we believe you should include yoga in your weekly pandemic pod schedule:

1. Yoga helps you – as well as your kids and teens – manage stress and anxiety. Yoga teaches kids to slow down, look inward, and relax – via poses, breathing and calming techniques. Even better, joining your children in weekly yoga classes can be an excellent way to connect with other families while dealing with this stressful time in our lives. 

2. Practicing yoga improves self-esteem and confidence. One way to build confidence is through overcoming challenges. Practicing new yoga poses that may be challenging at first is a great way to build your child’s self-esteem and further develop a “can-do” attitude! Yoga is a non-competitive physical activity that enables your child to focus on their unique abilities. 

3. Yoga asanas build muscle strength, strong bones, flexibility, endurance, aerobic capacity, balance and coordination, all of which are vastly important for healthy growth and development. Yoga also improves focus, memory and concentration. This, in turn, helps kids with remote learning and keeping their education on track. 

4. Practicing breathing techniques and meditation techniques – as well as yoga asanas – can improve sleep quality and your kids’ ability to relax during stressful times. In fact, meditation has been shown to benefit children with impulsivity as well as improve mental health.  

Are you ready to start or join a homeschool pod?

Whether you’re looking to start or join a pandemic pod for a five-day school week or prefer to use a pandemic pod to supplement your child’s remote learning experience, we believe that including kids yoga can be an excellent addition to any pod. 

Plus, giving children tools to manage and cope with stress, along with providing an overall workout for the body and mind, will benefit them throughout their entire childhood and beyond. 

Want to get started? Pretzel Kids yoga makes it easy as we can either provide a teacher for you, or you can take our 12-hour, self-paced online course and incorporate the Pretzel Kids yoga and mindfulness curriculum right into your pandemic pod. Who knows? You may realize that you really enjoy teaching kids yoga and decide to make it a permanent gig! Now that’s a win-win for all! 

About Jeanell: Jeanell lives with her husband and three sons in New York City. Once upon a time, she was a dancer and a children’s ballet instructor, but these days she can be found homeschooling her boys while exploring all that The Big Apple has to offer. She loves learning about and practicing a life of health and wellness, and is thrilled to be able to contribute to the Pretzel Kids blog!

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