Simplified: Home-schooling has been on the rise in South Dakota in recent years, and now a Sioux Falls woman is looking to give parents another alternative to traditional schooling with a new "microschool." Meet Cassandra Brown.

Why it matters

  • In some ways, Brown sees microschooling as a way of returning to what education looked like for her grandfather in the days of a one-room schoolhouse with kids learning together.
  • A microschool is essentially a small learning environment, similar in a lot of ways to home-schooling. Brown describes it as a way for parents to essentially have someone else home-school their kids.
  • Brown plans to open The Pelican School this fall, which aligns with her oldest son entering kindergarten. She's bringing her experience as a tutor, a parent and a former home-schooled kid – along with a philosophy that kids should spend less time in a classroom and more time and space to learn through play.
"Five-, 6- and 7-year-olds were not made to be sitting still for 45-minutes to an hour at a time," Brown said.

Tell me more about microschooling

Research from the National Microschooling Center estimates that as many as 1.5 million kids are in microschools nationwide.

  • Microschools saw a boost in popularity during the pandemic, Brown said, when many parents felt like they were essentially home-schooling their kids anyway via remote learning.

Brown said she took inspiration from Meadowlark Microschool in Minneapolis, as well as from Mara Linaberger, a longtime educator who's helping build the microschool movement nationwide.

Tell me more about The Pelican School

In its first year, Brown plans to take in kindergarten and first-grade students, but she hopes to expand in future years to older grades.

Classes will run 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, and Brown said she anticipates her lessons will be more structured than some other microschools with lessons taught through the lens of teamwork, humility and stewardship.

"I love the flexibility for parents," Brown said. "And kids are learning through a more natural means."

What happens next?

The Pelican School will open up this fall. Learn more about the school admissions process here.