Starting A Microschool In 2024- A Complete Guide (What Are Microschools)

by | How to Start a School, Learning

What are microschools and is starting a microschool right for you? If you thought about quitting teaching, but love it too much to quit and do something other than teaching, then you might be the perfect candidate to start a microschool.

A microschool is a small school with as few as two students (most have five) or as many as 100 (some may have a little more). Some are independent; others belong to a network.

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

These environments are very flexible and free from the bureaucracy of public schools.

You don’t have to participate in standardized testing or use a mandatory curriculum. However, progressive education is often used to describe this innovative schooling practice.

You have a blank canvas. A teacher’s dream!

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

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

It’s true! I did a Youtube video, How To Start A School, over 3 years ago, sharing my experience of starting a “private school,” which has been viewed over 33K times 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, and I’ve never had more than 14 at any given time.

That video inspired so many teachers and people who wanted to start their own teacher-led school but thought it was out of reach.

And why did they think it was out of reach?

The phrase “private school” automatically sounds like you need tons of money, and therefore, many teachers thought their dream of starting a school was just that, a dream.

If you had told me that I could start a microschool instead of calling it a private school, I would have attempted the process much sooner than I did. 

It sounds less complicated and starting a microschool is indeed easier than starting a traditional private school, for the most part. Of course, nothing is black-and-white.

Thinking that I needed lots of money and perfect “school” conditions delayed my opening. 

How to start a microschool

In fact, I’ve since created more videos and written more blogs about how to start a school. There isn’t much difference between starting a micro-school and starting a private school.

The key is understanding what a micro-school is and its benefits. 

Who can create these microschools?

Pretty much anyone.

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, but she wanted a school that would educate her neurodiverse daughter.

Not finding anything in her area, so she created it. You can read more about her journey here.

If you have a passion for ensuring better opportunities for students who may not fit in the small box we call traditional schools, keep reading. 

How To Start a Microschool?

Although creating your micro-school isn’t what I call hard, it isn’t “easy” either. This is still a business and should be treated as such. It will require hard work and discipline.

These are twelve steps to take in order to start a micro-school:

  1. Determine The Type Of Micro-school 
  2. Determine Your Business Structure
  3. Create Your Budget And Business Plan
  4. Establish Your Micro-school Curriculum
  5. Develop Your Micro-school’s Policies and Procedures
  6. Select a Space For Your Microschool
  7. Develop a Marketing Plan
  8. Find Community
  9.  Create An Advisory Board
  10.  Funding Your Microschool
  11.  Develop A Fundraising Strategy
  12.  Get Your Microschool Accredited (Optional)

I will walk you through these steps; however, creating your school is only your first step. You have to get your doors open and sustain it too.

Two things before we get started: My articles are very detailed. I am always adding; however, some sections may not be complete, check back later. Lastly, Advertising Disclosure: A few links in this article may contain affiliate links. I earn a small amount of commission if you decide to go with my recommendation at NO COST to you. I recommend services that I trust and that is why there are very few in my articles. Funds are used to continue to grow my micro-school.

Step 1 Determine The Type Of Micro-school

Let me be clear. Although what I am helping you to create can technically be a private school, you will brand it as a microschool.

You don’t want to tell parents or others in the community that you are creating a traditional private school. They will expect what traditional private schools have to offer.

If you are like me, I can’t compete with the $30K private schools in my area. 

But with my micro-school, I can offer my community something they can’t—an amazing education for their children at a much lower price point.

Your micro-school can be religious or non-religious. Some of you will want to start a for-profit, while others will choose to start a non-profit. 

Some of you will take the extra step to become accredited. We’ll talk more about all of this a little later and what it means for you. 

If you want to call it a learning pod or homeschool, so be it. 

I like to think of a microschool as what you get when you combine a homeschool program with a private school. 

(Video coming soon! Let me know in the comments if you are interested in a more detailed video on the differences of micro-schools.)

Your Microschool Niche

When starting a microschool, you have to determine what type of school you want.

Will it be a K-12 microschool? How about a middle school or high school only? Who will you serve? 

Plan with the end in mind here. This is the fun part! I am a dreamer, and I hope you are too. 

Remember, many microschools have mixed age groups. However, if you just want to work with elementary, middle, high school, or all three, you can!

If you want them all together or separated, it’s up to you. This is your blank canvas.

This is where you get to dream up the best school you can imagine to serve your ideal student(s) well.

Maybe you want a day school or virtual program. Is your vision a Montessori or a specialized school for students with learning differences?

It’s ok, create your ideal school on paper and dream big! 

Your vision may be to one day operate a K–12 school, but you may start off with either elementary, middle, or high school. 

The possibilities are endless. 

I would start with the end from the beginning here. However, actual implementation may be in stages. Again, dream big on paper. 

Microschools are very flexible learning pods and are able to change and adapt so if you need to change something later or add something, it will not be hard to do. 

Just know that it’s better to actually start a small school business and grow into your long-range vision of your school. 

The cool part about this is that you are the architect. 

I totally went against the grain and started with high school first. However, I knew from the beginning that I would work with 3rd–12th graders by the time my dream was fully realized.

Within about two years, I worked my way down to middle school. Eventually, I will start working with elementary students. 

Let’s Create Your Micro-school’s Identity

school branding

When you are creating your school’s identity, you need to answer the following:

  • Who will you work with?
  • What will your mission be?
  • What will be your microschool’s name?
  • Create your school brand (logo, colors, etc.).

Remember: “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.”

When creating your brand, again, start with the end from the beginning. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned. 

In order to do this, you have to develop a strong brand. Your name matters. Who you are building your school for matters, and even colors matter.

It would be too much to help you build the perfect brand here, but I wrote an article, School Branding For Microschools here. It will walk you through it step by step. 

I did create a resource for you that will help in this process. You can find it here.

I actually use my school as an example for you to help make the process easier. Allow it to help your creative juices flow.

Step 2 Determine Your Business Structure

Earlier, I mentioned that this is a business, so when starting a micro-school you should treat it as such. 

All businesses have a legal structure that they operate under. There are several different kinds. I go into detail about five legal forms of business organization . It’s worth the read.

I do NOT recommend you start a sole proprietorship. It’s best to put some distance between you and the school.

With that said, you will most likely be a limited liability company or a partnership if someone is working with you. There is also the option of being a non-profit. 

Whatever you decide, you can have your business formation done for you accurately, quickly, and affordably using a company I trust (click here).

They also have the option to use a virtual address. Take my advice and use it. When you register a business, you have to use an address.

Most likely, you don’t have a physical space yet, so you will have to use your home address. 

There is just one thing: this is a public record, and your address will be on display. It’s an inexpensive investment. 

A For-Profit or Non-Profit Microschool 

Deciding for or against a nonprofit is critical. As a nonprofit, it’s much easier to fundraise. People will give money much more readily to a legal entity or institution than to a person. 

If you decide to establish your own proprietary school, you will be on your own when it comes to raising money. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask people to still donate.

You can, they just can’t receive a tax break on their taxes. 

If you do decide on a nonprofit, you will have to apply for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. 

It is important to note that when starting a microschool you can get started and operate while you work toward a 501(c)(3), that is if you decide to go this route.

This is a process. I actually hired someone to do mine. Money well spent, as I didn’t have time to learn that process. 

However, with the students that I coach, I share how they can have both a nonprofit and a for-profit. I do recommend both at least work toward that (just my personal opinion).

Step 3 Create Your Budget And Business Plan

Don’t stress! You’ve got this, and I am here to help. This part is scary for many people. But it doesn’t have to be. 

A business plan is important because it will serve as your blueprint for how your micro-school is going to operate. 

However, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and I don’t believe you have to outsource this, at least not right now.

The reason why I don’t feel it’s a life-or-death document at this point to hire someone to do it is that I wouldn’t recommend getting a loan. But I do recommend you put one together. 

People will take you more seriously as you work to establish yourself if you have a working business plan. 

Your plan will show how well-prepared you are. It can also keep you focused as you cast your vision out to the community as well as others from whom you seek support.

I have an excellent resource for you that will help you put yours together with all the components you will need right now.  

Micro-School Business Plan Sample PDF Template

If you need a microschool business plan (PDF) template that will guide you with instructions to create your school business plan, please consider mine (click here).

My micro-school business plan sample template has it all outlined for you, with instructions on what to put in each section. 

Create Your Microschool Budget 

Great news here! If you do your business plan well enough, this will be done. This assumes you have completed your budget. 

If not, no worries. Keep reading. 

The budget, which is part of the business plan, is extremely important. I don’t want to minimize this.

When I developed my budget, I focused on a three-year operating budget. You can do the same or focus on one year at a time.

I was very detailed with my expenses and income projections. 

I would love to save you time researching line items. You can use my template (click here).

As you project your assumptions about income from tuition, fundraising, and grants, be conservative. Factor in some wiggle room in case things don’t go as planned.

I separated expenditures into three categories. I’ve seen some that only do two. 

If you are in need of a budget that lists everything you will need starting out and in the future, please consider supporting me by purchasing my template.

In addition, to increase your chances of being successful, you need good, low-cost business management tools.

For example, Omella has been life-saving. I don’t pay ANY transaction fees. Other tools I use can be found here.

How Do Micro Schools Make Money?

How to set your microschool's tuition

One of the most important things you will do in your microschool business is to determine your tuition.

I wrote an article, How To Set Your Microschool Tuition Pricing, that you should read. It will walk you through the five steps I recommend all microschool leaders take to set their tuition.

In addition, it has a cool calculator that gives you an estimate based on your input on a few basic questions.

Step 4 Establish Your Micro-school Curriculum

“In America, we have 19th-century school conditions and a curriculum that prepares our kids for the 1990s.” 

These words were spoken by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and there has never been anything stated that was truer. 

I am convinced that the curriculum/standards (pacing) are a huge part of why children are not learning as they should and why well-meaning teachers are pulling their hair out.

However, here is where you have the opportunity to be very innovative and create a program that will truly speak to the type of school you are building.

Understand that there is no special microschool curriculum, you don’t have to use the same curriculum you used in public education. I warn against it- at least in some instances. 

Instead, truly use things that will support your learners and further your school’s mission and that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Education is big business and it doesn’t have to be.

Some people develop their curriculum, if this isn’t your wheelhouse, don’t do it. It can be more headache than it’s worth.

I use a variety of things.

One of the best, most innovative programs that I’ve come across to help students with basic multiplication facts is Times Tales.

It’s a story-based program that helps children memorize the times tables.

It’s visual and it’s auditory! The students simply watch the stories and they eventually start to memorize the tables. It’s almost effortless!

In an independent study of Times Tales, “All the students with learning disabilities noted an average increase in score of at least 70%.”

Florida National University conducted this study and independently published its results. 

What makes Times Tales even better is that it’s cost-effective, it works, and is made by a teacher.

That is a win/win. 

Triumph School, which is the name of my microschool, uses curriculums that are based on the science of reading. Teaching kids how to read, write, and do math is our focus.

Here is a list of my suggested best reading curriculums. They are good for anyone, but especially students who have had more difficulty in learning to read.

Video coming soon list of things I use

Step 5 Develop Policies and Procedures

coming soon….

Step 6 Select A Space For Your Microschool

coming soon…

Step 7 Develop a Marketing Plan

You can’t afford to get this wrong. Many times, we think we can just build it and they will come. Well, that is NOT true. Not by a long shot. 

You have to promote, promote, and promote some more.

A marketing plan includes all your school’s marketing goals and objectives combined into a single, comprehensive plan. 

If you’ve already developed your business plan, much of that information can be pulled from there. 

The plan will include detailed information on how it’s going to achieve its marketing goals. 

Part of that plan could be advertising for students using billboards and ads on social media. 

Designing a website and setting up a mailing list to keep interested parents and even current parents in the know should also be part of the plan. 

The website doesn’t have to be expensive. You could do it yourself. I would suggest having a blog attached to your website too.  

The best marketing is free, and a blog can help you get found in Google’s search engine. There’s too much to go into here, but I give several marketing strategies here.

Having a mailing list is essential too. I use Convert Kit because they have a free plan for up to 1,000 emails. I’ve used MailChimp in the past, but it’s too complicated for me.

Using Convert Kit, allows me to send monthly newsletters easily. 

You want to keep your parents and potential parents updated with what’s going on in your school, especially those parents who are on the fence about your school.

I’ve had parents “date” me for an entire year before enrolling their child. But what convinced them, in the end, was all the success stories in my newsletters. 

Having a mailing list just makes it so much easier. Convert Kit does a lot of awesome things, too. You can create great landing pages too, and more.   

Marketing is one of those things where you need to be consistent. You may not see any results from your labor immediately, but it does pay off. 

It can be expensive, but it’s more expensive NOT to have a plan and not follow it. You have to be creative to get it all done.

I believe in working smarter, not harder. Therefore, I created a marketing presentation

I like the way the marketing presentation is laid out. It’s not a lot of reading, which most people don’t like to do. However, it gets to the point of key information. 

I use it in live presentations, and I send it to people when I am trying to get sponsorships, backing from small community businesses, or recruiting board members. 

If you are interested, you can find it here. Right now it’s a PDF, but in the future, I will make it so that you can customize it to fit your brand. 

With the PDF version, you will still get to see the same strategies I use to market my school and the key points donors want to know. 

Congrats!!!! You’ve done it! Well, you have done a lot of it. Let’s keep going to make sure you get your doors open and sustain what you put together.

Sustaining And Scaling Your Microschool

Step 8 Find Community When Starting A Microschool

If you truly are determined to embark upon this process, I suggest you find other people who are taking this journey as well.

This is my number one piece of advice when starting a microschool, aside from the obvious. Still, many will ignore it. 

Please don’t let it be you. This journey can be so lonely.

It doesn’t matter if they are across town or out of state. But it is vitally important for several reasons:

  • Community breeds support. Trust me, you will encounter moments of discouragement. Having community will help you fight feelings of hopelessness that may come on this journey. It can also help celebrate those small victories. It’s one thing to have support from family and friends, but it’s another to have it from people who know and understand.
  • It provides connection and belonging. Togetherness is so critical to our experience as humans. Connecting with others who share some of our values, interests, and worldview helps us understand we are not alone.
  • It provides an opportunity for us to share, give back, and learn from one another. Let’s face it, teachers are some of the most giving people there are. It’s in us to want to give back. I believe it’s an innate desire. There is so much I am still learning from the many teachers I am in the community with. For example, people are often finding new, easier, and less expensive ways to do so many things as it relates to creating and running private schools. I can’t possibly keep up with all the changes. But I come close because of connections with people who share their ideals.  

Don’t underestimate the importance of finding a crew who understands and who can speak to you where you are. 

You can start by signing up for my newsletter

I’ve been known to give out freebies to those who read and keep up-to-date with my emails. Also, I add LOTS of helpful resources and value to my list.

Step 9 Create An Advisory Board

Please understand the difference between an advisory board and a community, as I discussed above. 

Many of you, like me, are the visionaries of your school. You are the founder. We need to be in community with each other, but we also need other people to help carry out our vision.

Contrary to popular belief, no matter what your business structure is, you can have an advisory board. Learn more about these boards here

Your advisory board will empower you. But they will have less stack in your business. Most likely, they will not see the daily ins and outs.

Who are the ideal people you need on your advisory board? 

I would ask a few parents and other influential people in the community. 

It would be great if they had a heart for education or young people. However, they don’t have to. But they need to have skills that will help you develop your school’s business.

I would ask members of your community who have financial, legal, management, and building experience. 

You can ask people who are on the boards of other foundations or people who work for these foundations. 

Why? Because they know what you don’t know. Or, they know the people you don’t know but need to know.

Connections are key. One of these people could very well connect you to a resource that you will need. You are always one connection away from what you need.

This group can become the core of your first board of directors if you are a nonprofit. 

An advisory board can give you advice in their specific areas of expertise. 

They can provide feedback as you make decisions about your school and help you navigate legal and technical things.

Step 10 Fund Your Microschool

In the beginning, most of your school’s income will come from tuition.

Recall, early in this article I shared the five steps every microschool leader should take to determine tuition rates. There is a calculator that you can play around with in that article too.

Of course, this is outside of your start-up cost, which sometimes you just have to be prepared to have.

Remember, this is a business.

If your state is a school-choice state, there may be funding at the state level. And believe it or not, there are grants even if you are not a 501(c)(3). 

Check out the Vela Education Fund. I will update this article with more as I discover them.

For now, I suggest you focus on a fundraising strategy.

You will need a well-thought-out plan for how you will generate money from multiple streams.

Sorry, bake sales and car washes are not going to cut the mustard. Although they may still have their place, you will not have enough students to make something like that successful.

You will find this article I wrote helpful too: Best Business Management Tools for Microschool Owners.

I look at saving money as a way to help sustain my school. Using the right tools will not only help you save money but save you time.

Step 11 Developing A Fundraising Strategy 

You need a strategic fundraising plan. Ideally, you will have someone on your advisory board who can help. 

What to Include in Your Plan When Start a Microschool

Over at Donor Box, they identified the following steps as a starting point in creating a strategic plan. 

  • Include your mission
  • Create objectives
  • Build a team
  • Find funding options for different donor types
  • Use new marketing techniques
  • Research campaigns by others
  • Start online fundraising 

Including well-planned appeals to foundations and local philanthropists in your plan can pay off. If you can afford it, I would hire a professional to help write proposals and identify donors. 

These documents are the gifts that keep on giving because you can use them over and over again. 

If you do have to change them, it will only be small things. Nevertheless, you will use them over and over again. 

A well-thought-out and well-implemented plan can pay off big time. 

However, I totally wrote my first few grants myself. Triumph has been awarded over $200K for my efforts alone. 

I found The Little Book of Gold extremely helpful. It’s for nonprofits, but I would use it for educational nonprofits too. So, nonprofit or not, you should get this book.

It will walk you through several of the above points, and I love it because it was written for small and very small organizations. It was so reliable and doable. 

I am just starting to seek “professional” help because it can be time-consuming. 

I hope that passing it on to someone more knowledgeable will help in the long run with getting more money and causing me fewer gray hairs.

However, having The Little Book of Gold in your toolbox will help until you get there.

Nevertheless, not only can a well-thought-out plan help you meet your fundraising goals, but it can also help you build a deeper connection with your donors.

The Village Schools

Establishing a connection with your donors is powerful. To give you an example, I donated to The Village Schools because I just love the founder and her vision and mission. 

About five days after making my online donation, I got a package in the mail. It was from The Village Schools

Inside the package was a little stuffed animal with the following written on his shirt, “Thanks for being a friend of The Village Schools. 

She hooked me! I felt so important and like a friend. I felt a connection. It will most likely not be my last time donating. 

Nevertheless, she wants everyone to walk away feeling like I did. 

It’s part of her strategic fundraising plan. She also included a handwritten letter. This, too, is part of her plan. Super creative!

I learned all this the hard way, and one of the hardest lessons I learned was building long-term relationships with donors. 

They donated, I said thanks, and that was it. In the beginning, I had no way to keep track of them and follow up with them. 

Now I know better! I update my donors every so often on new and exciting things we are doing and/or the latest progress with our students. 

I send birthday greetings, I was just thinking of you or anything to let them know I value them, not just the check they write.

The Little Book of Gold speaks a lot about donor cultivation. 

To cultivate my donors, I needed an easy way to store their information to make it easy to send these updates. That is where the Donor Box comes in.

You can research it yourself, however, it has been the lowest cost management plan I’ve found to date to easily accept donations and keep up with my donors. 

There are no contracts and no set-up fees. You can ask your donors to pay the fees, and when they do, it costs you nothing. It is also really easy to use.

Step 12 Get Your Microschool Accredited (Optional)

Remember, you don’t have to have an accredited microschool. It’s optional.

I decided to get my school accredited because I needed to have it to get school choice funding in my state. 

Each state is different. You will have to research the requirements in your specific state.

You should be able to find information about your particular state here. Simply look for your state and see what the requirements are.

Conclusion of What Are Microschools? 

I aimed to not only answer the question, What are microschools? but to also explain in detail how to start a micro-school. 

If you follow all 12 steps listed above, I know you will be able to create an innovative, effective learning environment that will help all students learn.

Understanding what micro-schools are and how they may differ from how to start a private school is half the battle.

So, what do you think? Is starting a micro-school for you? If so, you have a blank canvas, make your micro-school whatever you want it to be.

Don’t forget, if you have questions, please put them below. 

You might enjoy my other articles on Microschools:

  1. Marketing for Schools: 10+ BEST Micro-School Marketing Strategies
  2. School Branding For Micro Schools (The BEST Way To Develop It!)
  3. Advisory Board vs Board of Directors (Nonprofit & Forprofit): Why Should You Use Them?
  4. Legal Forms Of Business Organization For Your Small Business
  5. Microschooling: Innovative Educational Options for Parents
  6. What Makes an Effective Teacher in a Microschool?


  1. Artrina

    Good Morning, I really appreciate your coaching 🙏
    I have been trying to open a school like this for about 5+yrs
    Your information is so awesome and everything is so helpful 🙏😊

    My question is I just moved back home to Florida and I suppose to start working as a school bus driver again! Can I open my school and continue working? I ask this question because I am starting business all over again and I am funding my business out of pocket? This have been a passion to open a school maybe about 20years now🙏 I would love to hear your feedback 😊 Thank you 😊 I thank God put me on YouTube the other day to find you because I have prayed for many answers and have asked other people who was in your field and they never gave me this kind of information 🤔

    Have a blessed weekend Mrs Cindy Lumpkin and Family 🙏❤️

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Hello, you have several things going for you. Fl is an awesome place to open a school because they are school choice friendly. You can work, but you have to be able to run your school too. So I guess if you have someone working with you to watch your students while you work maybe. But there is nothing to prevent you from working. Follow my friend Tonya at and documented her journey pretty well. Also she is in FL. Connect with her on FB too and she will happily share her experience. You got this!

  2. Marcy

    I need help with accreditation. I have 13 students ranging from ages 5-12.

  3. Marcy

    Are you able to point me in the right direction for accreditation?

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Hello, it all depends on what state you are in.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      It depends on your state and the organizations that serve your area. A good place to start is to call some local private schools and see which ones they are accredited through.


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