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As my husband and I prepared for our oldest child to enter kindergarten, we tried to look at all our schooling options.
We were open to public school, but had a few reservations, a big one being how many hours each week our child would be away from us.
We feel really convicted about spending a lot of time loving, training, and modeling how to live life for our children, and it was hard to wrap our heads around them being away from us 35 hours or more a week, especially at such a young, impressionable age.
We were also open to homeschooling, but it seemed our oldest needed to be pushed socially a bit. She was the kind of kid who couldn’t be away from me for a minute. It seemed a traditional school week would kill her, but homeschooling would mean she would never learn to break through her anxieties.
I know there are many great traditional private schools around us, but attending a private school didn’t necessarily mean we’d get more time with our kids than if they attended public school, and they are such a huge yearly financial commitment.
So in the end we felt best about our kids attending a private university model school. It’s a beautiful compromise of learning in a classroom with a teacher and peers, but also at home with family. It’s more flexible than traditional school, but more structured than homeschooling.
The University Model School Schedule
Our university model school offers classroom learning for grades k-6 on either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Once students enter seventh grade they attend school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I believe some university model schools have elementary students also attend classes in person three days a week.
The weekdays on which students don’t attend in person school they have satellite work days at home.
My two school aged children go to school on Monday and then bring home assignment sheets and work they must do for each satellite day that week. On Tuesdays we complete their satellite day one work at home. They go back to school Wednesday. Then on Thursday and Friday, we complete their satellite days two and three.
This model of school gives us the great gift of spending more time together as a family. My kids still get a classroom experience where they work with others and learn from an experienced teacher, but they also get even more time working with our family.
University model school can also mean more flexibly for our family. For example, if our kids want to double up on school work on Thursday they can be off school on Friday.
While I love not having to wake up my kids and rush around getting ready for school five days a week, I also appreciate that my school-aged kids are away two days a week so I do get a little break from teaching them.
Something really special about university model schooling is that the parents are a partner in their children’s education. We are constantly aware of what our children are learning, where they excel, and where they struggle. This has helped us better work with our children and help us focus on any areas that need special attention.
This model of schooling also gives us a lot of opportunities to bond with our children. Doing school work together three days a week can be something that strengthens our relationship. We can build memories, trust, and depth of knowledge of each other. Still, home satellite days can be extremely challenging, so it can also be a great strain our relationship if we aren’t careful.
This option is much less expensive than a traditional private school. My assumption is because children aren’t in the classroom full time.
I’m grateful I don’t have to choose my children’s school curriculum or or worry about the pace of learning. It’s nice to have a teacher send home work and tell you when it’s due. The teachers do the vast majority of the teaching, and the parents work more on the practice and repetition part of learning, which is a relief for me.
Another benefit of university model schools is that students are challenged by teachers on classroom days since they only have two to three of those days a week. The university model schools I’m aware of have very rigorous school days, because students do a lot more when they don’t have in-person school days back to back. University model schools also seem to share the idea of having smaller classroom sizes, so teachers can do more with students.
I’m also glad our teachers don’t have to worry about state testing. They are free to teach our children without the fear of testing.
Finally, I love private school so kids can make some of their own rules. I love that they don’t allow cell phones at school. It’s not so easy for public schools to make these type of rules, but private schools have much more leeway.
As wonderful as university model schooling is, a major challenge is being your child’s teacher. There is also a lot of room for our children to practice self control and self motivation. Somehow at school my children are saints, kindly doing what teachers ask.
But at home they do not feel the same need for niceties. Doing school work takes a lot of self control when teachers and classmates aren’t around. This can be extremely exhausting, but I feel like the struggle now is worth the payoff later.
Another challenge is if you have more than one school-aged children who may need your help. Even more challenging is if you have preschool-aged children who need your attention.
At some point, most kids can do their satellite work on their own. But in the early years, parents should be with their child during their at-home days.
I’m so thankful for our university model experience. It’s been a hard road that’s taken a lot of time and energy, but the extra time we have had with our kids and the life skills they are learning are invaluable.