Four Alternatives to Traditional School For Your Child

With the recent upheaval from the pandemic, many parents are still wondering what the best environment is for their child’s education. Are their children safe in a public school environment or should they stay home to school? Should they find a small group of other students for social interaction and learning? Should they teach their children themselves? 

If the upcoming semester is making you consider a change, here are four alternatives to traditional, in-person school. 

Schooling From Home

When schooling from home (distinct from homeschooling), education is school-directed, often by an accredited program. Curriculum and performance expectations are set by the school. 

Learning may be online, by video, or by in-home tutor. In most cases, parents function as a proctor and are only responsible for making sure their child completes their work.


  • Learning takes place exclusively in the home, allowing parents to make a better health choice for their child.
  • Some options, such as those provided by the public school system, are free. 
  • Parents are not the teachers. Learning is outsourced to the school district or online private school. This may appeal to working parents who do not have the ability to teach and work.
  • Children who will be returning to public school will have learned the same lessons as their peers. 

Potential Drawbacks

  • Schooling from home is often a one-size-fits-all approach. These programs are crafted for typical learners who can do well in an online environment. Your child may have different needs that cannot be accommodated. 
  • Asynchronous learning can mean your schedule is interrupted to make sure your child is logged in for their class. 
  • Many options require the student sit in front of a screen for a full school day.
  • Parents are not the teachers. You know your child’s needs better than a curriculum-in-a-box.


Like schooling from home, homeschooling takes place at home. The greatest difference between these options is the flexibility parents have for their child’s education. In fact, homeschooling’s hallmark is flexibility. Parents have the option to choose their curriculum, include specialized subjects their child is interested in, and teach in a way that fits both their child and their family’s needs. When homeschooling, education can mean more than just academics. Work experience, religious participation, service learning, and volunteer work all count as part of a homeschooling education. 


  • Learning can take place exclusively in the home, allowing parents to make a better health choice for their child.
  • Learning is parent-directed. You can make sure your child learns the way that is best for them, whether they are typically developing or have special needs. 
  • Learning can take place at any time of the day! Parent-teachers can teach around work schedules, other children’s needs, and mealtimes. Just make sure you are following homeschool laws for your state
  • Homeschooling doesn’t have to mean isolation. Most cities have a robust homeschooling community that offers field trips, special classes, and informal play dates. Homeschooled children can make friends with other kids just like them. 
  • Many homeschool umbrellas like SailAway grant diplomas and offer graduations, so your child won’t miss out on special events.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Parents may not feel equipped to teach certain subjects. But never fear! Local homeschool co-ops often offer classes for those scary subjects, taught by parents or licensed teachers who are subject experts. 
  • Too much flexibility. Parents may be overwhelmed by the multiple options they have for curriculum, pedagogy, or umbrella school. That’s why schools like SailAway’s Homeschool Umbrella exist to walk alongside homeschool parents and give curriculum and teaching advice. 

Learning Pods

A learning pod is a small group of students (typically three to ten) who learn together in person. This model could support both schooling from home and homeschooling families. Learning pod families may all have the same curriculum, or simply come together to learn separately. Some pods are composed of students enrolled in their local virtual public school, while others function as a small homeschool co-op where teaching duties are shared among parents or hired tutors. 


  • Interaction with other children. Your child isn’t totally isolated. 
  • Every learning pod is different! The pod’s “rules” are agreed upon by the parents. You may find one that fits your exact needs. 
  • Working parents have a safe place for their children to learn without needing oversight. 

Potential Drawbacks

  • You may not find a group of parents who share your same needs. 
  • This model may not work well for younger learners who need more hands-on help, as children in learning pods are usually expected to be independent learners.  


Similar to a learning pod, a Microschool is also a small group of 5-10 students. However, what differentiates a Microschool is how it is created to meet the specific and unique needs of those students. Best suited to children who fall through the cracks in traditional learning environments, Microschools are environments where multiple ages learn together in a single classroom. Instead of lecturers, teachers act like guides to shepherd students through digital and project-based learning. Finally, using diagnostic assessments to understand their students’ learning needs, a Microschool education is highly personalized and more attuned to children who excel with non-traditional learning methods.

Our Microschool’s limited class size allows us to teach to your child’s unique interests and needs, and find ways to ignite their excitement about learning and life. For those who have fallen through the cracks during their educational journey, we help them rise above. 


  • Your child’s education is entrusted to experts who excel with exceptional learners. 
  • With a small group of students, your child is not lost in a crowd. 
  • The limited class size allows for a more controlled environment for pandemic safety.
  • Some Microschools, like SailAway’s Microschool, are blended models, which means instruction takes place both in the classroom and online. 
  • Many Microschools (like SailAway’s) are diploma-granting, which means a struggling learner has a real chance to graduate with a non-modified diploma. 

Potential Drawbacks

As with any private school, this option is not free. You are paying educational experts to help your child reach their potential. However, this may actually be a benefit for many parents!

What choice is best for your child?

Only you know what works best for your child and family situation. If you’re on the fence or have unique needs, our education specialists would love to help you make the best decision for your family. Give us a call today at 865-376-7005, or visit us online at