A Fairfield County homeschooling company is used to getting inquiries from parents. And not surprisingly, calls went up in March when schools closed abruptly to COVID-19.
Catherine Fraise is the founder of Workspace Education in Bethel, which is a co-learning space, similar to a co-working space, but for education.
The company supports parents who work side by side with their children to co-create the education their children need to be successful.
"We gather families who want their children to be engaged in their learning and have more flexibility in their lifestyle than the public school schedule allows," explained Fraise. "Some online programming is great, but most people want their children to be interacting with others and doing interesting projects, spending time outside and in their passions."
You can think of it like homeschooling but with help from educators to custom create whatever education a family would like for their children.
The physical space — 32,000 square feet — offers science labs and performing arts studios to support individualized learning. Families can choose from any source, any curriculum or project and design whatever they need for their children.
The company is currently developing an online venue called Workspace in the Sky to match its on-site services so that "parents can have all the ingredients at their fingerprints to design the best possible education for their children as well as professional ed team support." It will open Aug. 1 and be offered "24/7 and on the ground two days a week initially," said Fraise.
During the COVID-19 quarantine part of this past school year, Workspace Education families worked virtually without a problem, using Google Meet during the closure.
"We use these tools already," said Fraise, "and families are used to organizing classes and using the technology. And we have remained connected via a robust virtual community site."
Knowing that homeschooling may be part of the future as well, Fraise has suggestions for parents for continued success in supporting their child's distance learning.
"If you are worried about your child returning to public school, take the year off and explore alternatives," Fraise recommended. "Everything you need to create what [parents] need is online, and you can organize activities with other people doing the same thing.
"Generally, the hardest part is finding other children and families to create awesome experiences with or go on field trips, and we can help you with that, too. We are also seeing that parents want an easy turnkey solution delivering the grade-level material, allowing their children to complete their grade-level work efficiently, so they have time to explore and do interest-led learning."
When it comes to public school officials, who now have several months of experience in distance learning, Fraise suggest they offer a virtual school option, which would allow for parents to plan what would be a great fit for their children, and have more of a role in their children's education.