The Perfect Fit for My Family: University-Style Education


educate debateBeing able to stay at home with my children for the majority of the time was never a priority for me.

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-picTricia 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. 


  1. Hi! I really enjoyed your article. Can you share the cost of the school with us? Also, are there online resources or a site where we can get more information?

    • Thanks Melinda!

      Here is a link to our school: and here is a link to the National Association of University Model Schools I believe that the tuition cost is listed somewhere on the school’s website, but if you don’t come across it I can tell you that it is about a third of the cost of somewhere like Covenant Classical Christian School. It’s very reasonable. Something I didn’t mention in the article is that CLPS allows the option of picking and choosing courses, similar to signing up for college courses. So, for instance, if you are a homeschooling mom and feel comfortable teaching everything but say, Anatomy & Chemistry, you can choose to enroll in those subjects alone. It’s something to consider if you’re on a tight budget but are seeking a way to make sure that those subjects get covered adequately. Most of the students at CLPS do the full load. The students that are together all of the time form a close knit bond, but there are plenty that are just there for some courses and not all. Thanks for commenting! I hope this helps!

    • Great question Abby!

      The most difficult thing about this type of schooling is having other little ones to deal with at home. When my oldest started Kindergarten I had a 2 year old and a 3 week old. I didn’t know what I was doing and it took a few months for us to really get into a groove. I had to give myself a lot of grace. Our day didn’t look like what I imagined the typical structured home school day to be. There were moments when the 2 year old was crawling on the table and the baby was crying and the dog was barking among other distractions! Fortunately, the kindergartner didn’t know any different so he took it all in stride. I had to figure out what routine worked best for everyone in the family. Some days that meant not starting school right away. During the little kids’ nap time we could get a lot of work done. Some days I had my super mom act together with activities planned for the 2 year old to keep him busy and out of our way. Fast forward to the next year with a first grader, a 3 year old, and a 1 year old, and it was even harder because now there were two little brothers running around getting into everything! Did I mention that I had to give myself (and them!) a lot of grace??? There are days when I feel like a failure, and question our decision to choose this type of school. But, the Lord uses those moments to teach me and my kids that I cannot do this without His help. All this is to say that it is still worth it! If you decide to choose this type of school give yourself a semester before you cash in your chips! You have to find what works best for your family. It looks different for everyone.

      • Thanks so much for answering. I totally get that! I am the oldest of three and was homeschooled all 12 years. That would definitely be challenging, but I think it would be a good challenge. My son is only 8 months old so we have a while, but this option sounds like the best of everything I’d want for him. 🙂

  2. I love this article, my daughter is only 1 and I have already been so torn as what to do for hw5r schooling. Thos seems like a great option in the future!

  3. I’d never heard of this! Can you clarify…your 1st grader goes to class 2 days a week and then on the other 3 days he was spending an average of five hours a week doing school at home? 3 days of school at home = 5 hours a week? I think I must be missing something…

    • Natalie,

      Yes ma’am! In 1st grade we spent about 1-2 hours a day on home work on home school days. This was usually broken up into smaller time segments throughout the day. Keep in mind that every child is different, though. Our son is particularly good at pushing through and getting his work done so that he has more free time in the afternoons. Some kids tend to dawdle more and have trouble staying focused. They may require more breaks. Also, keep in mind that with each new school year the home work load increases. I’m not sure how many hours a week the upper school students spend on home work, but I am sure that the school would be able to provide you with an idea. Here is there website for more information

    • Natalie, on more thing…

      Keep in mind, too, that parents generally do not introduce any new material at home. Everything we worked on was review of what our son already learned in class, with the exception of a few assignments that I can think of. Also, I am not including projects. There were several major projects in first grade that increased our work load those weeks.

    • That’s great, Katie! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Give yourself a lot of grace if you’ve got other little ones at home to deal with! It takes time to get into a groove, but as the months go on you will figure it out. Hang in there!

  4. We looked at this awhile back and seriously considered it. We ultimately stuck with homeschooling, but concluded that this was the only other option we could see ourselves choosing. We chose homeschooling because we didn’t want to be locked into any sort of school year schedule, and because philosophically we have been steadily trending toward a more eclectic and “interested-based” form of education, which isn’t really duplicated in any school around here.

    Still, the university model sounds like a wonderful “best of both worlds” option.

    • Mike, you are exactly right. One disadvantage to this type of schooling over home schooling is the more rigid school schedule. I definitely envy you home schooling families who can vacation during the fall when most kids are in school. I have a friend who does school through the summer months and takes their “summer break” during the fall when the weather is nicer and they can enjoy being outside. You might consider a UMS for the future if there are classes that you don’t feel confident teaching at home (ie: anatomy/chemistry lab). I can’t speak for other schools, but our school offers the option of choosing classes a la cart for every year except Kindergarten.

  5. Loved learning a little more about this option! It sounds very interesting, and just like you said – the best of both worlds!

  6. I like the idea of the university model. But, I have a couple of questions. Would the school be flexible with traveling families? My husband occasionally needs to travel for work. We would like to take the kids on some of trips, especially if they are to city’s of historical significance. Essentially, homeschooling on the road for a week.

    My other question has to do with diversity. There are several university model schools in the Fort Worth area. But, each that I look up seem to lack diversity. To be point blank, all the kids look Caucasian. The schools do not discriminate per their policies. But, why the lack of minorities? This is the type of education I would like for our kids. But, they need to know there is more out there cultural wise.

    • One disadvantage to university model school compared with homeschooling is that you are more bound to a schedule and deadlines. The homework load can be rigorous, and being absent from class for a week at a time would definitely add a lot to your plate. Our school would require the work done in class and the home work to be done. Our particular UM school is very family friendly and I am certain that there are times when students do miss school for a week at a time for a family trip. However, similar to traditional schooling I don’t think several trips a year would be feasible.

      As for diversity in the UMS, your observation is definitely valid. I’m not familiar with other schools, but I can say that in our school there are a fair number of minorities. But, the majority of the students are caucasian. I would love to see that change! It would be great if more and more families hear about UM schools and we start to see a more diverse population of students attending.


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