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An Exciting Future for Education: Starting a Microschool

This September, thirteen learners ages 5-15 will join my family in our new microschool, The Treehouse. This is the beginning of an exciting journey, but it’s also the culmination of many years of dreaming and scheming that have finally aligned with the amazing policy changes and resources that Utah has fostered over the last several years! This is an exciting time for alternative education in our state!

My Story

I was introduced to the concept of a microschool in 2018 when I was a new homeschool mom in Arizona. My favorite definition of microschools is that they bring together the best parts of homeschooling and traditional schooling in a small group. Over the last six years, I have learned about the philosophies and programs different microschools were using. I was really intrigued by the self-directed learning environments that many seemed to be fostering. Programs such as Prenda, Acton Academy, and Sudbury Valley democratic schools all sounded amazing but didn’t exist in St. George at the time, and starting one sounded like a bigger project than I could take on. Instead, I read all I could and listened to so many podcasts about self-directed learning, trying to create something similar to these programs in my own home. 

As I developed my own systems for fostering natural, self-directed learning in my family, I decided to share what I was doing with other moms. I began coaching homeschool moms, and heard over and over their need for community. I saw in my own children how community was a missing piece for us as well. I loved the way unschooling was fostering our relationships with one another, their sense of self, and they were certainly learning all the time and in so many ways. However, I longed for a community where they could be inspired by and inspire other kids, where they could practice collaborating, sharing their talents, and be exposed to new ideas and challenged by new interests and opportunities. A microschool was still my end goal.

Photos from our first family meetup at the library!

New Policies and New Resources

On the heels of the Utah Fits All Scholarship program passing, I learned about a bill (SB13) that would allow up to 16 students in a home-based microschool. It seemed things were aligning! The bill passed and was enacted in May 2024. It defines what a microschool is as well as some simple requirements for allowing up to 16 students in a home or residential area. This opens so many doors because homes are an ideal learning space– with yards for play, kitchens for experimenting, cozy corners for reading, big tables for arts and crafts, soft rugs for Legos, gardens to plant, and neighborhood parks to walk to. Not to mention that they take very little capital investment!

I took the step to put my idea out there and begin making it happen!

It was so exciting to see the kids deeply engaged & collaboratively working on their own terms.

Bumps in the Road

Although it felt like everything had aligned to make it easy, it hasn’t been totally smooth sailing. It turns out new policies take some time to be adopted by cities, and I’ve had to get the ball rolling in St. George, which isn’t my nature to get involved in politics. Fortunately, I have found the microschool community to be so helpful! There are lots of Facebook groups excited to share, YES Legal is an amazing resource that gives free legal information (they can’t advise but they break down the laws in your area to help you ask the right questions and understand your rights and responsibilities as an education entity), and Jon England at Libertas Institute (who was instrumental in many of these developments in Utah) has been really supportive as well! Also, shout out to Michelle Tanner on St. George’s City Council who responded to me right away to get SB 13 on the next city meeting agenda! 

As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, I’ve learned that starting a microschool requires some bravery. If it’s something you wish you had, and you don’t see it, you have to put it out there and assume you can’t be the only one who wants this. You have to be the one brave enough to try making it. I listened to a podcast interview of a woman starting a microschool. She said she had been postponing her opening until she found just the right space. Someone told her, “Families need you to open more than you need to wait.” She opened in a church space they rented. In one year, they had outgrown it and found a new space. That hit home for me. I posted my idea on social media, started communicating with interested families, and I now have families enrolling!

What is The Treehouse Microschool?

As a brief introduction, the microschool I’m starting is an Agile Learning Community. This means that we are using agile learning tools to support self-directed learning. At our first family meetup, we hung up posters with different interests on each of them, such as cooking/baking, biking, hiking, robots, music, art, science experiments and invited the kids to sign their names on each poster that lights them up. As they signed them, the kids were already talking about ways they want to learn more about or get better at these interests. They were intrinsically motivated! They were self-organizing! I am so excited to build this learning community in partnership with these amazing kids as they learn to take their ideas from concept to reality. You can learn more about The Treehouse and agile learning tools here.

I’m excited to see all the opportunities that our kids will have for different learning environments as the microschool movement grows! Maybe one will be started by you!

For more information about starting a microschool, I recommend:


The LiberatED podcast with Kerry McDonald

Off-Trail Learning curated by Black Boles

I have other great resources listed on my coaching website!

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