I’m a firm believer in the uniqueness of each family and that we are all not called to the exact same thing. (What a boring world that would be if we were! ) This post is not a knock at public schooling, Christian schooling or traditional homeschooling. It’s simply my sharing of our family’s choice of the university-model school. I am by no means an expert as we have just begun, but I hope this piques your interest for this schooling model! Make sure you scroll to the end of this post for your FREE gift!!
When I mention that our daughter is attending a university-model school, I always get asked:
What exactly is a university-model school?!
Don’t worry: A few years back I had never heard of one either!
But when a new school started in our town in 2010, the idea intrigued me.
At the time, I was freelancing for my local newspaper, and I decided to interview the school director and dig a little deeper into this then-foreign-to-me hybrid-homeschool model of education.
It took that one interview and writing that one story to convince me: If we could somehow scrounge up enough money, I wanted our children to attend this school one day.
Fast forward four years: Our firstborn started kindergarten at this same university model school on Monday.
(Another post for a different day is how the Lord provided exactly what we needed to pay for tuition and purchase uniforms.)
Today is our first homeschool day.
And I couldn’t be happier with our choice.
What is a university model school?
In a nutshell, a university-model school:
“takes the best attributes of homeschooling and combines them with the best attributes of traditional, Christian education.” ~National Association of University-Model Schools
Most university-model schools hold on campus classes two or three days per week, while the remainder of the week is spent in the “satellite” classroom–the home.
Parents do the in-home lessons with their children, but certified teachers have prepared those lessons. Parents and teachers partner in each child’s education. The time at home gives parents “more time for imparting the values they hold precious.” (source)
By the junior and senior year of high school, students attending a university-model school should follow a schedule very similar to college students. This aids in college prep.
Philosophies of Education
Although the National Association of University Model Schools (NAUMS) exists to help start-up university-model schools and support existing ones, each school is its own entity and can choose it’s own educational philosophy.
For example, the school my daughter attends adheres loosely to a Classical Christian educational philosophy, while a university-model school a few towns over from us follows the Basic School philosophy.
Although I really like the idea of the Classical Christian philosophy, my husband, who is actually a public school teacher, prefers the Basic School philosophy (it’s the model his school follows). But this was not a deciding factor in our choice.
Why our family chose this model of homeschooling:
When we became parents in 2008, my husband and I both leaned toward homeschooling our children–even though, at the time, we were both public school teachers.
But we also knew that we could not make such a definitive decision when our child was still a newborn. We had no idea the child’s temperament, where we would be living when she started school, or how God would lead five (and really, six!) years down the road.
So we said we would take things year-by-year and even child-by-child when it came to their education. I am a firm believer in what works for one does not work for all.
There are several reasons we chose the part-time homeschooling university-model:
1. It’s faith based.
This was probably our #1 reason for choosing this model. I attended Christian schools from kindergarten through college, and, overall, I had a wonderful experience.
We desire that our children have teachers who follow Christ–and teach our children about Him–just as we do.
2. It provides a parent-teacher partnership.
I am excited to teach my daughter, but I do not believe I am the only person she can learn from. She can (and should) learn from a variety of adults. For full-time homeschoolers, this can be accomplished in a number of ways (Sunday school teachers pops into my head). But for our family, this parent-teacher partnership for the academics of our children is ideal.
In our university-model school, certified teachers prepare all lessons–even for the home, or “satellite” days. Some homeschool moms might feel this confining, but, for me personally, this is freeing.
Few people know that I actually am a certified teacher. I taught school for five years. I don’t tout that often because I don’t feel like I am a natural at teaching. It was a job for me. But it wasn’t my “brilliance” zone.
The thing is–I actually enjoyed the teaching, especially in small groups. But I hated the planning.
Being able to part-time homeschool my daughter using teacher-prepared lesson plans is a HUGE win in my book!
3. It fosters family time.
Unlike traditional schools, where children spend up to 8 (or more!) hours away from home each day, our daughter is in class three days per week from 9:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. This gives her four full days at home with us, plus the early mornings and late afternoons and evenings every single day!
The girls and I are able to eat a leisurely breakfast together since school doesn’t start until mid-morning, and we have plenty of time together in the afternoons before I have to start working on dinner.
The children at our school do not have homework until older elementary, so once she is finished with school, she is free to play with her sisters to her heart’s content!
4. It allows for flexibility.
Although parents are to follow teacher lesson plans, they are free to tailor their instruction to meet their child’s unique needs, and the teachers can give tips on how to do this. Also, parents can supplement with any enrichment activities or subjects they wish.
For example, since my husband is a Spanish teacher, he has plans to expand more on the once-per-week Spanish lessons our daughter will be getting at school.
Since he is a Star Wars junkie, he is also excited about using this Star Wars Kindergarten Writing & ABCs workbook with her!
5. It meets our daughter’s needs for socialization.
This is not to belittle full-time, “unsocialized” homeschoolers at ALL. I really hate when people say that! Most full-time homeschooling moms I know give their children plenty of opportunities for socialization!
But choosing a university-model school is an easy way for our family to do that. Our little girl is–like both her parents!–an extrovert, and so far she has come home from school energized from the interaction with her teacher and new friends.
Because this is a brand new season for us, we are actually going to limit her extracurricular activities this fall (and perhaps not participate in any at all), so it’s important to us that she be around her peers somewhere, especially because it is so life-giving to her personality.
6. It’s affordable (to an extent).
Each university-model school is priced differently, but, as a rule, they are much more affordable than traditional Christian schools–simply because the teachers only work part-time. When I compare our daughter’s school to other area Christian schools, the tuition is a fraction of the cost.
We were living on a low income when we first felt led for our daughter to attend this school, and it’s actually one reason why I began to monetize this blog.
I literally cried all the way to the school on Monday, in awe of how God provided for her tuition and for her school uniforms–when less than two years ago we were barely making it month-to-month. It truly is miraculous.
There isn’t a university-model school near me. Now what?!
This is the exact same question the director of my daughter’s school asked herself when she discovered university-model schools. There were no schools in our area.
So she started one.
In fact, university-model schools are actually begun by parents who see a need and desire to provide this type of education for their children and other children in their communities.
Find a directory of university-model schools and how to start your own school here.
FREE First Day of School Printables!
My hubs is a teacher by day, but he moonlights as a graphic designer. He put together these CUTE printables just for you! You can choose from black or green chalkboards and your child’s grade level–pre-k through college!–and you can also choose one for “homeschool” if you’re like me and have two first days of school–a home and school day.
To download and print, simply click on the links. My back-to-school gift to you!