The Best of Both Worlds: University-Model Schools Blend a Private Education with At-Home Teaching

educate debateI remember it like it were yesterday. A dear friend and I were walking around the neighborhood, pushing our then-tiny firstborns in their strollers, when the conversation turned to school. The reality of having a school-aged child seemed decades away, and yet we commented that it would be here before we knew it. And you know what? That old adage is true . . . because the days pass so slowly at times, but those years . . . those years fly by.

Fast forward to today, and I now find myself the mom to an elementary-aged child. I’m not really sure how it happened so quickly, but it’s here, and when I glance at the calendar I see summer slowly slipping away. In a few short weeks, we’ll be diving back into school. And while I bemoan the end of the season, I’m also excited to begin this new adventure.

A Fitting Option

When I first began researching schools a few years ago, I was slightly overwhelmed. There are SO MANY options in Fort Worth (can I get an Amen!). Public. Traditional private. Private montessori. Public Montessori. Charter schools. Homeschool. And then there were countless options and varying methodologies within each approach to education. It was dizzying, truly!

But as I researched a bit farther, I honed in on some models that seemed to be a good fit for our family and my first-born. I was surprised to find that I was drawn to homeschooling for various reasons (namely the emphasis on the family as the principal educator, the freedom to choose curriculum, and the ability to cater teaching methods to my child’s learning style), but my husband and I also had some hesitations. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be completely liable for the curriculum, testing, and record keeping, and I also wanted access to extracurricular opportunities, as well as the expertise of other teachers. In short, my husband and I wanted a partner in our child’s education. So when my neighbor mentioned the university model of education, I was intrigued.

University-model is a mode of education that blends traditional classroom teaching with a homeschool environment. The movement (which is growing in popularity across the country) was founded in 1992 in Arlington. According to the National Association of University-Model Schools’ (NAUMS) website, this educational approach “preserves and maintains the God-ordained family relationship, while offering students the opportunity to achieve a high degree of academic excellence.”

In essence, a university-model school is an integrated partnership between parents and school with the end result being a tried-and-true college-preparatory education that focuses on both character and intellectual development and empowers the parents to take an active role in the child’s education while also giving them more at-home time to invest in the faith and values of their children. Since that may sound a bit abstract, here’s how it works:

  • In most university-model schools, elementary-aged children attend classes in a traditional teacher-directed class at the school campus two days a week. They are schooled at home the remaining three days a week. Typically the student begins attending the campus three days a week in junior high.
  • The curriculum is determined by the school. Some schools follow a classical model of education, whereas others follow a more standard model. Most (if not all) of the schools are faith-based, and this is usually weaved (where appropriate) throughout the curriculum.
  • On homeschool days, parents emphasize the concepts the students are learning in the classroom. Prior to the start of the year, parents may have to attend training sessions so they are adequately equipped to handle the expectations of the at-home teaching.
  • The school maintains all record keeping and facilitates testing, including placement testing for incoming students.
  • A student’s progress is measured by individual class mastery. A child can move up or down in a subject as needed, rather than having to progress as a peer group one grade at a time.
  • Most schools offer a diverse array of extracurricular activities.
  • Because the student only attends the campus a few days a week, tuition is typically more affordable than a five-day-a-week private education.

If this approach to education sounds appealing to you, there are several university-model schools in the greater Fort Worth area. They include:

For additional general information on university-model schools, visit the NAUMS website.

What questions would you like to ask Shalene about the university-model approach to education?

SONY DSCShalene is a freelance writer/blogger and stay-at-home mom to three little ones aged six and under. Prior to her induction into motherhood, she was a full-time magazine editor. She moonlights as a family/newborn photographer, relishes the written word, and marries the two at Faith&Composition. Hop on over to her blog to find transparent pieces about gracious homemaking, intentional mothering, and natural living, including her über-popular post, “When Mothering Is Hard and No One Sees.” It’s sure to encourage your heart!


  1. I am very interested in this for my child but does anyone know if these are set up with special education for special needs children? My son has a learning disability.

  2. My children attend a Classical University Model school that teaches Latin K – 4th and Greek 5th – 7th. Their vocabulary has gone down quite a bit since taking Greek. It just seems too ambitious for 10 year olds. Do other University Model schools teach Greek?

  3. Does anyone have any classical school recommendation for the Dallas area? We live in Addison, the Fort Worth schools are a bit far for us


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