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Inside the enchanted forest: A creative micro school built by Virginia mom

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Allison Fried, mother of three, turned her basement into a school for kindergartner students. (Caroline Patrickis/ABC7)

BURKE, Va. (WJLA) — A mother in Fairfax County, Virginia has made it her goal to make students feel like they are actually going to school, despite being all virtual.

As Allison Fried, a mother of three, including a rising kindergartner faced the challenging school year ahead, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“We think she needs socialization and kids but from a safety perspective, a class size of 20 just didn’t make sense for us," Fried said. "So we thought how could we create something that felt normal?"

In July, Fried made a plan with her husband to convert the basement of her home into a micro-school or a "pod" where her daughter and five other students now attend.

After posting her idea to Facebook, she and five families hired Mrs. Susan, a former teacher, who teaches the classroom every day during the school week.

Then, they cranked up the creativity inside the basement.

"You are good to go," Susan says after taking the children's temperatures. "Welcome to the forest."

Susan calls the micro-school the enchanted forest. They’ve decorated the makeshift school from top to bottom.

“We just look at each other and we say what have we done?" Fried laughed.

There are fairy-lit trees, bouncy chairs, painted murals on the walls, and a place where the students gather called the "pond."

The pond has soft cushions that look like tree logs.

Fried says they never could have imagined six months ago that they would be hosting multiple kindergartners at their house for school.

More than half of everything in the room was donated by complete strangers including a retired Fairfax County kindergarten teacher.

“Probably 20-25 different families donated everything from the paving stones to create a walkway out here, to whiteboards, bulletins, markers, and crayons.”

Susan stresses that while every school looks different, she reminds parents and those who normally aren’t teachers to have fun and give yourself grace.

“Have fun with them when you can, incorporate learning with them in the kitchen, or while sorting laundry. There can be math and history in everything.”

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