Hybrid Schooling Microschools Are On The Rise

by | How to Start a School, Learning

Say what?!

Okay! I made this up, hybrid schooling microschools. Well, not really, but kind of.

This is a model that we will be implementing as a way to attract more homeschooling families who need specialized instruction for their children in a small school setting.

However, these families still don’t want a full Monday-through-Friday program.

If you are a parent reading this, hang in there. I will make this plain.

If you are an educator who is interested in edupreneurship, or starting alternative education programs, this article will help.

In either case, each of you will learn a lot about microschools and the hybrid schooling movement.

The modern education system started about 150 years ago. 

Other than the fact that it’s not a one-room schoolhouse anymore, nothing much else has changed.

COVID exposed a lot—a REAL lot.

Oh, and by the way, how do I know? In the 2020–2021 school year, we witnessed a whopping 63% surge in homeschooling families or creating learning pods.

And get this, even after schools started again the following school year, 2021-2022, there was only a 17% dip in that number and an increase in teacher-led schools.

Yep, you read right—that means there are still loads of new families opting for alternative ways of educating their kids.

So, whether you’re interested in hybrid schooling and/or micro-schools because you want to send your child to one or because you want to start one, you are in the right place to learn more. 

Your Guide To Understanding Hybrid Schooling and Microschools

Hybrid Schooling

What is hybrid Schooling?

For starters, it can go by several different names. For example, I’ve seen it referred to as blended learning, hybrid learning model, or hybrid homeschooling.

Whatever it’s called, it’s a homeschooling model where students attend a physical brick-and-mortar for part of the week and spend the other part at home.

Some people may describe hybrid schooling as having some online classes and maybe being taught in person.

However, the way the research is shaking out, hybrid schooling refers to educating students in more than one location (home and a physical location).

I will address a series of commonly asked questions about hybrid schooling later in this article. 

For now, let’s turn our attention to microschools. What are they? 

What Are Microschools?

Microschools are just that—small schools. They are still very much private schools, but they are often run more like modern-day one-room schoolhouses. 

You can have as few as two students (most have five) or as many as 100 (some may have a little more). 

Some are independent, while others belong to a network. 

The microschool environment is very flexible and free from the bureaucracy of public schools. 

You don’t have to participate in standardized testing or use a mandatory curriculum.

Literally, you have a blank canvas. A teacher’s dream!

Who’s creating these microschools?

Pretty much anyone.  However, micro-schools are often teacher-led schools.

However, we hope the people who are establishing these innovative small schools are highly motivated and well-versed in education.

So, that means YOU!! Even if your background isn’t in education, you can still make an amazing micro-school leader.

In fact, Tanya Sheckley, author of Rebal Educator (a book worth investing in), wasn’t a teacher.

She wanted a school that would educate her neurodiverse daughter. So this rock-star mama created it. INSPIRING!!

You can read more about her journey here.

Back to the title of this article, Hybrid Schooling Microschools Are On The Rise.

Shortly after learning of the term, hybrid schooling, I reflected on my journey as a microschool founder, which was a recent discovery too.

Let me explain!

Would you believe that I, a teacher, ran a small private school for over 8 years before I realized that what I had was by definition a microschool?

Although I had what fit the definition of a microschool, I still couldn’t answer the question, “What are microschools?”

It’s true! In fact, I did a YouTube video, How To Start A School, over 3 years ago. I shared my experience of starting a “private school.” 33k people have viewed it to date.

Not once did I mention the word “micro-school” because it wasn’t in my vocabulary. Yet, at the time, I had fewer than 10 students enrolled.

I’ve never had more than 14 at any given time. We also taught multi-ages in one setting, much like the one-room schoolhouse.

COVID, What is Reviled About School & How Hybrid Helped My Microschool Survive. 

In short, many people learned that our education system needs a major overhaul.

I learned that my microschool, not only doing a better job of educating students with disabilities, but with a LOT less money and more innovation. 

We didn’t face any issues transitioning to online learning…at ALL. 

Although it was an adjustment for my students, they didn’t feel the same anxiety and stress as public school students.

In fact, a teacher friend reached out to me at her wit’s end. She asked if I would allow her daughter to enroll in my school.

Her student began to experience mental health challenges. Being that she was a student with a disability, we did.

She flourished at our school. I absolutely LOVED working with her.

However, Triumph didn’t flourish coming out of COVID. 

We gave up our lease and couldn’t get it back at a reasonable price. Therefore, we pivoted.

That following year, 2021-2022 we introduced hybrid schooling to our microschool model.

We had three physical days of live, full-day instruction, with two days of being at home with one online class.

If it weren’t for this model, we wouldn’t have survived to fight on to continue to do the work we do.

We ended up transitioning to another county this school year after a year of doing a little research and marketing in the new area.

What we discovered was that there were families looking for microschools that offered hybrid schooling.

Our niche is a full-week program (needed by most of our families). However, offering hybrid learning for homeschoolers is helping to keep us going. 

I believe this is a testament to how flexible microschools are in meeting the needs of the families they serve. 

 Although I never imagined I would be offering a hybrid school program, we are now leaning into it and believe other microschool leaders should too. 

More on Hybrid Schooling

Kennesaw State University: Do They Know Something About Hybrid Schools/Microschools?

The field of hybrid schooling and microschools is new, but several legit organizations, including Kennesaw State University, to name one, have taken notice.

To the point, they have an entire department called, the National Hybrid Schools Project.

They have defined a hybrid school and microschool as follows:

What is a hybrid school?

In their most common form these schools operate 2-3 days per week in brick and mortar buildings, with classes of students, teachers who assign work, etc. The balance of the week, these students are homeschooled. (Individual schools might offer classes in other weekly formats, such a four half days per week, for example, or give students the flexibility to come an amount up to four days per week). The defining characteristics of these schools are that most or all of the curriculum is decided by the school, students attend live classes a few days per week in a physical building, and are “homeschooled” the rest of the week.

What is a microschool?

The Christiansen Institute’s Michael Horn has suggested that “micro schools” follow a variety of structure, but generally “model a combination of one-room schoolhouse, blended learning, home schooling and private schooling.”2

[1] Wearne, E. (2016). “A descriptive survey of why parents choose hybrid homeschools.” Journal of School Choice, 10(3), 364-380.

2 Horn, M. (2015). “The rise of AltSchool and other micro-schools.” EducationNext 15, 3.

National Hybrid Schools Project, Kennesaw State University

Other Commonly Asked Questions Surrounding Hybrid Schooling

What is hybrid homeschooling?

Stay with me! So apparently there has to be a difference between a hybrid school and a hybrid homeschool because there are public hybrid schools.

No, I am not talking about blended learning, where the student is taking online classes.

On the contrary, the student is spending a few days at school for live instruction and the other days at home.

These schools seem to be more popular in California. They operate public hybrid homeschools authorized as charter schools.

What!! You read correctly; there are charter hybrid schools.

I have a lot more research to do, but this could be a game changer for small microschools with a niche, such as Triumph.

So, just to clarify, schools design hybrid home schools specifically for home-schooled children.

They spend part of their time learning at home and part at a physical location for a mix of home time and school class time with peers. 

Hybrid homeschooling is an alternative to just going to public school or just homeschooling.

Can you homeschool and go to public school at the same time?

Technically, yes!

Be aware, however, that if you enroll in a charter hybrid school, as mentioned above, it’s not true homeschooling.

Yes, you will be at home for part of the time, but you will not be a homeschooler. 

You are actually enrolled in a public school. Therefore, your child will have to abide by public school rules.

They would have to follow the standards and tests of the local public school just like any other student. 

Most times, parents homeschool to avoid this and ensure more personalized learning for their children. 

Now, this is where micro-schools step in. Microschools can easily include a program that will accommodate hybrid schooling for families that don’t want the regulation. 

Children attend a physical school location for part of the week and complete work from home the rest of the time, just like any other hybrid schooling option.

They simply are not part of the local public school system.

Many homeschooling parents, however, believe that this is not true homeschooling because it removes parental control over what and how their children learn at home.

However, microschools are able to exist because of the amount of influence parents have and the partnership most have with their schools.

What is the difference between hybrid and online classes?

So, earlier in the article, I talked about how sometimes hybrid schooling is mistaken for online classes. 

Although hybrid schools may use online classes, they are not necessarily the same thing. 

And the way that it’s looking, a more scholarly definition of hybrid schooling will not be associated with online classes. 

This means that hybrid schooling students can take online classes, but online classes don’t make hybrid schooling a hybrid school.

LOL! I feel like that was a lot. But I hope I answered the question. 

A Word From The U.S. Department of Education.

According to their study,

  • Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.
  • Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
  • The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.
  • Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.
U.S. Deparment of Education

Like everything else, homeschooling has its shortcomings. A parent would need to be well-versed to oversee the entirety of their child’s education.

This can be a lot for a parent. In addition, socialization has always been a concern.  

With hybrid schooling, parents are having their cake and eating it too.


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