NE Portland play space transforms into micro-school for young students

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -- More parents are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to their child’s learning this fall, by creating what’s called micro-schools or pods

How it works, a small group of kids get together, usually in a home, and follow a home school curriculum or their public school’s online curriculum, while a hired adult or teacher oversees it.

But as families create these pods, finding a location is the next hurdle for some. Not everyone can host kids at their home and that’s where partnering with local businesses come in.

The Wiggle Room in northeast Portland is an indoor play space for kids. 

“It’s mainly designed for kids zero to seven, but it’s not a giant space, it’s about 2,000 square feet,” said owner, Jessica Wade. “So, pretty much wherever you are, you can see your kiddo.”

Like many businesses, Wade said she completely closed for months due to COVID-19, only recently opening back up for families to rent the space privately. 

“I mean it’s hurt financially,” she said.

But recently Wade heard about a new trend called micro-schools or pods, where families form their own small learning groups.

“It sort of dawned on me one day when I was in different conversations with parents in a variety of different groups and one thing I kept on hearing was the space issue,” Wade said. “I kept hearing people go but where, where can we bring the kids because it’s really hard for me to work from home.”

“I’m happy to have six kids in my house and kind of help, but the reality of it is I also have to work,” she continued. “So, I kept on hearing this space thing, you know, what space could we use and then it sort of dawned on me, oh, I mean I have an amazing space that really is super flexible.”

Wade said the plan is to rent her space for use, which also offers toys and other activities for kids.

As for cleaning, Wade said she’s doing everything she can, like constantly sanitizing and disinfecting areas, as well as installing a small device that attaches directly to the HVAC system. Wade said it’s meant to help purify The Wiggle Room’s air.

“I think it’s just a great flexible space that a lot of different things could be done with it,” she said. “So, I sort of had this thought of I hope that could be an opportunity for us to be able to provide that service to families and, you know, groups that are looking for it and also as a business opportunity for us to hopefully keep things going in the right direction.”

Wade said she’s still working out all the details on how to make this work.

The Wiggle Room is not the only business opening up its doors to pods. FOX 12 has heard of other places in town, like dance studios, art studios and churches.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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