Until I had children.
I always assumed I would work full time and see them in the evenings and on the weekends. But, from the moment I heard my first son’s first cries for me, his mama, I knew that I was going to do everything I could to be with him–and our two sons to follow–day in and day out. I wanted to be there for all of their firsts. I wanted to be the one to cut up their PB&J sandwiches and grapes into teeny tiny pieces, to lay them down for their naps, to hold them and kiss their boo boos when they got hurt.
Until they turned five and started kindergarten, of course. That was when I would force myself to let go and look at the silver lining. At least I would have some more time to myself, right? Time to work out. Time to have an uninterrupted conversation over coffee with a friend. Time to do my Bible study. Time to grocery shop with the world tuned out, my ear phones in, and my favorite latte in hand. My job as a part-time nurse was wonderfully flexible in that it allowed me to be both a stay-at-home mom and a professional putting my hard earned skills to work. Truth be told, the stay-at-home mom gig turned out to be leaps and bounds harder than being a nurse.
As our first son neared the fast approaching milestone of kindergarten, my husband and I began to go back and forth about what type of schooling we felt would be best for him and our other two sons. I loved being at home with the boys, but most definitely never saw myself choosing homeschooling over sending them to a full-time public or private school. With homeschooling being out of the picture and private school being out of our budget, our decision was made easier leaving us with public school as our only option.
Or so I thought.
The more my husband and I talked things through the more we started to wish that there was a way to have the best of both worlds. We longed to be able to have a schooling option that would give us more hours with our children as well as give them an environment where they could be in a classroom with friends and teachers and all of the other cultural and social benefits that traditional schools offer. That is when we came across the university-model school.
At the university-model school, K-6th grade students attend two days a week and 7th -12th grade students attend three days a week. Students complete instructor-prepared assignments under the supervision of parents at home on the alternate days. Simply put, it is the best of both worlds of homeschooling and traditional schooling. My son’s school states that the key is professional classroom instruction partnered with involved parenting and teaching at home. I feel comfortable and reassured knowing that I am not responsible for choosing curriculum and introducing new and important concepts to my child. All of the home assignments are spelled out simply for me and it helps a lot that my son has already been working on them in class. I don’t think of myself as a homeschooling mom. It just feels like homework. But, because we are making up for not being in a traditional classroom for three days a week, it is more homework than a traditional school of course. I like that I am working alongside my son’s professionally trained and fully qualified teacher to provide him with an excellent education.
We like that he is not away from home eight hours a day five days a week. We feel that the extra time at home allows us to have a considerable influence on his upbringing and instill in him the values that are important to us. But, because he is also in a traditional classroom two days a week he is learning to socialize and get along with his peers. He is able to spend more time playing outdoors and spending time with grandparents. I love that he is able to have close friends his age at school, as well as a close relationship and plenty of play time with his younger brothers at home. In 1st grade, our son spent an average of five hours a week doing school at home. The majority of that time he did not need me to sit at the table with him. I am still able to keep up with the things I need to do around the house; we are able to spend a lot of time together as a complete family.
The university-model school has proven to be the perfect fit for our family. It’s the perfect medium between the vastly different worlds of homeschooling and traditional schooling. I still get to kiss my sons’ boo boos (as long as they will let me). And, when the time comes and all three boys are in school two days a week, you can count on seeing me perusing the grocery store aisles with my earphones in, the world tuned out, and my favorite latte in hand.
What would you like to ask Tricia about the university-model approach to education?
Tricia was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas at the age of 10. She and her childhood friend/high-school sweetheart, David, have been married for 12 years. Tricia works part time at her dream job as a NICU nurse. On her days off, there is never a dull moment while she is chasing after their three sons, Elliott (August 2007), Jude (May 2010), and Benjamin (July 2012). When she is not working or spending time with family, she enjoys reading, traveling, day dreaming about having a clean house one day, and taking in all that the wonderful city of Fort Worth has to offer.