About Jennifer Todryk
Hey there! I’m Jenn.

Things get a little loud and chaotic over here from time to time. I blame the three child beasts ... and Mike is loud too. But, I hope to bring you nothing but happiness, inspiration, good home decor and only the comfiest clothing recommendations because, who really enjoys pants .... ? And most importantly a good laugh. I hope you laugh a lot… even if it’s at my expense.

- Jennifer
August 8, 2019 | Motherhood

What The Heck Is University Model Schooling and Why Do We Do It?

by Jennifer

First things first – I’m pro public school.

I went to public school, my husband who is a West Point grad went to public school, I’ve always been pro public schools.

I never wanted to homeschool. In fact, as a know-it-all teenager I said some pretty crappy things about homeschoolers, like, “Why would anyone homeschool their child? They can’t shelter them from the real world! They are a little different.

*pausing one sec so I can finish eating all of my words.*

I think you get that this wasn’t ever on my radar nor did I even know this kind of education existed until I started diving into the homeschool community for a reason that will be explained further into the post.

So here we go with all the explanations….

Disclosure: I am not a University Model/ Homeschool expert. I am simply sharing information and opinions from my own personal experiences. Basically, don’t come at me if you don’t agree, Sharon. ? Many thanks 😉

What is University Model Schooling?

Not all “UM” schools are exactly the same but they are a hybrid education. Some send their kids to the private school three days a week while others send them to school only two days a week. Just depends on the school they attend. The other days are homeschool days where a parent is in charge of teaching. It’s basically college-style education taught from Kindergarten. “A days” and “B days” – different schedules. They are taught the lessons by their teacher on “A day” then at home doing assignments that correlate with those lessons on “B day” with Mom or Dad checking work or teaching as well. It’s basically college, hence the name “University”.

At least this is how our school is structured.

What curriculum do you use?

Again, this depends on the school. Our school picks the curriculum, tells us what we need to purchase on our school supplies list every year (some subjects are provided, just depends on the grade), and then we buy it and show up to Meet the Teacher with it all in hand ready to go!

A lot of moms say, “I could never do UM schooling because I wouldn’t know what to teach my kids!” but at our school they have it structured where the teacher sends home the work that needs to be done from their in-school curriculum. It’s fool proof. You’re there to help assist, answer questions, and be the “homework checker”. 😉 You don’t have to do any extra planning if you don’t want to!

However, I do choose to add in my own curriculum. Which brings us to our next question….

Why did you choose to do University Model Schooling?

Number one question I get on all socials, and I totally get the curiosity! 🙂

Long story cut very short- My son has been blessed with an Eidetic memory. Almost a photographic memory, from what we can tell. He can see things 1-2 times and it’s locked in his brain for what seems like forever. Can you imagine how amazing this would be? No more forgotten grocery items... *sigh.

He started reading sight words at 2.5 years old. He could read sight words before he could form verbal sentences. I have a video of me laying out sight word flash cards and asking Von, “Which one says can?” and he’d point to the card that said CAN and I’d say, “say CAN” and he’d repeat it back sounding like a caveman. It made zero sense to me how he could read before he could speak well. It’s because he’d hear me say the word and simply memorize it.

Von at age three would toddle into the kitchen first thing in the morning and ask me what the climate of Africa was. So we started there. We started learning about Geography. He was obsessed. By the time he turned four he had memorized the entire globe, each country by its shape. He could also tell you a lot of their populations. That’s when he started collecting and reading encyclopedias on every topic you can think of.

Age five was the year of memorizing the periodic table (took him three days) and multiplication…. you catch my drift. Sending him to kindergarten to learn sight words and practice letter sounds seemed crazy… and honestly, just not the right choice for him at that moment.

I chose UM schooling, I say I because I had to talk my husband into the idea for a few weeks before he was on board ;), because he could go to school, have a teacher who was someone other than me, learn classroom rules, eat lunch in a cafeteria with friends, get invited to birthday parties, etc etc all while having a couple days at home where I could give him material to keep him learning at his educational level. Von is all across the board when it comes what “grade” he’s in. We are starting a third/fourth grade history curriculum this year, he’s in between a sixth to seventh grade level in geography ?, math he’s around third/fourth grade, reading around middle school level, where as with handwriting he needs a little extra help! The boy hates writing. But that’s what is so cool about this set up, we can totally do it this way! Bonus- I’m not worried about if I’m missing something (teaching wise) because I know that he’s getting all of what he needs at his state recognized level in his first grade classroom, if that makes sense.

…. and if we’re keeping it 100%, homeschooling two days a week sounded a heck of a lot better than homeschooling five days a week!

It just seemed like the best of both worlds and what he needed at this point, which leads me to….

Will you do UM schooling forever?

Honestly, probably not. It’s great for him and what he needs right now but since it is a smaller school he may need better opportunities later in life that a large school district would be able to offer him. We fortunately live in one of the top school districts in the state so our public schools are amazing and have some pretty impressive high school programs. Engineering, robotics, pre-med, an awesome theater program (because we don’t know what the kid will do!) all of these are offered in our public school district and if he has interest in those programs and we feel like he needs more then of course we will change course. If only we could see into the future, right?

Is it Christianity based?

Ours is, yes. Which is another aspect that we love. While it wasn’t the main reason, educational reasons first brought me to the idea as stated above, now that we have been in it and done it for a year this aspect of the school is SO beneficial. I have teachers that not only teach my kids math that I royally suck at, but also teach them with how to treat people kindly, choose love, respect and obey your parents (can I get an AMEN?!), and tell them how much God loves them every day for who they are…. I mean, how is that anything but amazing for little kiddos? I love that our faith is being brought into the education especially in these young formative years. I feel like it’s a great “base” to grow off of. Of course this is just my opinion!

Do you pay tuition?

Yes, just like you would at any private school except our school costs less since they are only going a few days out of the week.

Can anyone go to a UM school?

Of course! However, our school does have a mildly intense application process- student interview, student placement test (to make sure they are on par with their grade level), and then a family interview. It’s basically like applying to college. But again, every school is different!

Does your school do state standardized testing?

No, but they do have quizzes and tests throughout the year. I personally am a big supporter of this because I believe that test taking is a skill set that needs to be practiced for college prep. At the end of the year the students do have a day of testing that is part written and part verbal with a teacher that confirms that they comprehended what they covered in their curriculum and are ready for the next grade. It has nothing to do with the state.

Do they have sports and extra curriculars?

Ours does! But again, that depends on the school and how many students they have attending. We also do extra curriculars on homeschool days which is a HUGE perk! No 6 pm dance/gymnastic classes that are packed and chaotic, we do them all during the day! It’s so nice! This year both kids are taking piano lessons as well as dance again for Berkley and a coding class for Von all on homeschool days. Von is also doing flag football but those practices are at night since he’s playing in a city league. He also does soccer camps at his school… we stay busy to say the least.

Do they have attendance rules?

So, this is the best perk of them all…. our school really fosters family time and vacations. We get something like 18 non-excused absences and then “family emergency days” as well. Needless to say, the families at our school travel quite a bit. It’s very common to have kids gone every once in a while on Fridays because their family left for Disney World or Grandma’s house on Wednesday after school. I’ve seen families keep their kids at home for a week because they had a new baby and they want that family bonding time. The reasons vary, but as long as you complete the work that you missed our school does a pretty good job letting the parents decide if their kids are in a good place to miss a few days here and there. What I appreciate most of all is that when kids are sick they typically stay home because the parents don’t feel like they HAVE to go or they’ll be dragged to court for having too many absences. That is life changing, lol! Traveling is something we plan to do more of once Vivi is just a few months older because we don’t know how long we will have this kind of freedom. It really is a blessing!

So, that’s it! That’s University Model Schooling, from our experience, in a very tiny, blog post form, nutshell! This is what we choose to do at this point in our lives and we take it year by year never knowing what we will do the next year because things may change. It’s definitely not for everyone but it’s been a really cool opportunity for our family. It’s put my mind at ease about our son’s academic needs as well as given me some extra time with my babies since they are home more often than if they were in public school. 🙂

I don’t think I’ll ever look back and be like, DANG! I spent too much time with my kids! What was I thinking?! ? So, if anything I am hanging on to that thought and trying to soak up these moments that seem to be flying by.

I feel like I should also say that I love teaching. Like, I LOVE it. Don’t get me wrong, some days are hard and not very enjoyable, but overall it has been such a learning and growing opportunity for myself. I’m a “creative” by nature so I love researching fun topics to teach and putting together unit studies for the year!

The last thing I want to leave you with is a reminder that people do this type of schooling for different reasons. Some are educational reasons like us, others love the Christian private school aspect, some families just want more family time, others have parents working unconventional jobs which have them traveling often so the homeschool days give them time with their parents in between business trips… I’ve heard so many reasons as to why people choose this. I can assure you that it’s not because the outside world is scary and dangerous for our children, which is what my, at the time, ignorant self would have been thinking a few years ago.

At the end of the day don’t we all just want to do what we feel is best for our kiddos?

I hope this article was insightful and explained a few things! If not, then I’m sorry you wasted minutes of your life reading to this point.

.…you’ll never get those minutes back and for that, I apologize.

If you’re interested in reading more about this topic please check out my friend’s blog post where she shares her perspective on a similar type of schooling! Erin (@Cottonstem) and I met through Instagram while mainly focusing on our home décor accounts and have recently learned that we have both chosen to do this type of education!

Feel free to share this post if you feel inclined to do so, that’s why it’s here! ?

Like YouTube? I have a large homeschool/ educational toys haul video (updated one coming soon!) As well as a few posts linking tons of educational games, toys, and tools listed below!

Educational Toys That Keep My Kids Busy

Best Amazon Educational Toys for Preschoolers

Coolest Educational Toys that Your Kids Will Want For Christmas

Leave a comment

  • A good share- my eldest son would have benefited from this method of teaching. Glad it’s working and you love it!
  • As a retired public school educator I have looked at home schooling as a cop out. Which was reinforced when I would get students who had been home schooled. This, however, makes sense. School is very confining. Being flexible with family time and travel is so beneficial. It’s unfortunate that public schools do not have, or take, the advantage of doing this.
  • We do a similar type of schooling here in Georgia! We are a private Christian school but we work on a hybrid schedule. They go to school two days a week and then are home for the other three. I love it for all the reasons you do! I love that our school comes up with the curriculum...that was my biggest hangup with straight homeschooling! And, let’s be honest, I needed a couple days where the kids were out of the house! ?
  • That's such a great opportunity for your children! I wish we would have had something like that when my kids were in school. So glad you shared and your right, you don't get those years back, so enjoy them as much as you can. :)
  • This sounds so great! My 10 year old is gifted (reads at college level, photographic memory etc) and thankfully attends a wonderful school that pulls him out of class everyday with 5 other “gifted” kids to do additional instruction. But had that not been available your set up sounds perfect! I do have to say at this point there is no way I could possible challenge him so it's a good thing I’m not the one teaching him ?
  • Thank you for writing about this education model! We have a school almost identical to this that I love! My husband teaches at the high school, which is part time but follows a block/university type schedule. However the grammar school is part time. They go two days a week for their main school day and then an optional half day Friday for extracurriculars. The other two days are their home days, where the parent teaches based on the curriculum and assignments the teacher gives. I have actually been teaching students on their homedays for families where both parents work. It is also Christian based! Needless to say, I love this education model and can’t wait for our kids to attend someday. ?
  • This is so so very fantastic!! Thank you for sharing. I have heard you talk about it a few times and have been curious to learn more. I LOVE the idea. I was home schooled for 2 years (4th and 5th grade), and while it really helped my younger brother (who was the main reason my parents did it), it was a struggle for me. Not really academically, because I came back ahead in school, but socially. I did not really jive with the other kids in the home school groups we were a part of, and then I was not included as much with my friends who were still in public school. I studied child development in college and really care about educating my kids, but I didn't want them to be weirdos (or to get sick of each other by too much time together and me wearing too many hats). They are in a full time daycare/preparatory preschool right now, and they are doing great, but I also get sad that they are learning so much without me!! So I really LOVE the idea of the balance of home school and school outside the home. SO GREAT for when they are young . . . maybe not junior high / high school though. My kiddos are only 2 and 3 right now, but I'm certainly trying to figure out how to make this a reality for us in the next couple of years. Than you for taking the time to share!!
  • Like so many other professional teachers, I have had such poor experiences with homeschooling. It is so often done for the wrong reasons and done so very poorly that when students inevitably return to public school (usually because the parents have tired of even attempting to teach) they are so far behind their classmates that we often deal with anger and frustration from the students. THIS however sounds WONDERFUL! I can both understand why you have chosen to homeschool, and why Von is doing so well under this system! Way to go!! ????????
  • Good for you! We had our kids in a UMS for four years before they had to close their doors. Now we’re in a two day a week co-op that is basically the same thing. We love it. I too swore I would never homeschool my children and had to eat my words. My oldest is gifted and was bored in public school. The teachers told me two years in a row that he was gifted but there was nothing more they could offer him. Now he works a year above his grade level and is thriving. Going on year 7 of homeschool! Best of luck! Keep putting your kids needs ahead of anyone else’s opinion!
  • I live in your area (Prosper/ McKinney) but don’t know if any UM schools near us. I taught public school for 15 years. I adopted my daughter 2 years ago. I’m taking this year off to really invest more in her. I’m single so I can’t totally stay home forever, but i’d Love to teach in a UM school and have my daughter go to one. Yes, I know she is only two, but if it’s like apply for college we should start, right?! I just don’t know WHERE to start...
  • I have never heard of this, but it sounds amazing! If I still had small kids I would SO want to do this and will be mentioning it to my kids for my grands. I'd love to get them out of Public School, I personally do not like a lot of the things I see in PS, especially as they get older!!! Have a wonderful year!!!
  • Thank you so much for sharing. I did something similar for my daughter for the same reasons you had for Von. People thought I was NUTS- I got tons of pushback from friends and family but I felt in my heart it was the right thing to do for HER. Long story short my daughter graduated high school at 15, was accepted to and attends one of the largest universities in the country and is about to start her second year of college at barely 17 years old. She is thriving and happy. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for you. I did not think I could like you more but your commitment to doing what feels right rather than what is mainstream or popular is amazing. I know not everyone has the option to take this route due to having to work outside the home, finances etc. I scarified a lot to do this, but it all worked out in the end! Keep going and good luck! There are success stores like my daughter!
  • What a wonderful school model! And you’d be a fun teacher!! I homeschooled my children and heard similar remarks until my daughter went to public school for the first time as a freshmen. Her guidance counselor was so impressed and said we gave a good name to homeschoolers as she did very well socially and academically from the start. But, honestly, the majority of homeschoolers we knew are very successful well-adjusted adults. Parents just want what they know to be best for their own kids. Sometimes its homeschool.
  • Thank you thank you thank you???????????? i am a nurse and I just had my second child and we moved from a very comfortable life in Chicago of my son (3.5 now) having a very busy and educational first few years of his life with the best nanny in the world (1 on 1 learning yet being socialized and around kids everyday). We moved because my husband is in residency and decided it makes more sense for me to stay home with the 2 of them then change childcare for our kids every 3 months in different states as we move for his residency rotations over the next year. However my son is way above his learning level at this ago like yours is too ( by 2 years old he knew his abc’s by dinosaur names before he ever even knew what letter it actually was in the alphabet?). My husband and I joke constantly about him not being challenged in kindergarten (and getting calls and behavior logs) because if he is not challenged he goofs off and is uninterested in what is being taught. ( weird to know at this age but totally obvious when in learning groups). I keep telling my husband I feel like I am going to do him a disservice because I am a nurse not a teacher but when I do educational things at his level and in his leaning style he totally gets it and grabs onto things. People always say that homeschooling is a cop out but honestly I feel like homeschooling is way more work and my kid isn’t even school age yet!! So thank you for educating me on this type of schooling because I think my son may really benefit from it. Like you son he is getting the best of both worlds with learning how to socialize and function in society but still being able to be challenged like he needs to be. Teachers are amazing and it’s one job I could never do but it’s all done at the same level and not every child is at that level. So thank you for this blog post ?????? P.S. I have never read a blog post in my life but I have really enjoyed following you on Instagram and feel like we have a lot of the same values P.S.S. My husband hates you because I spent way to much at the gap sale on the kids and got myself and the kids new balance sneakers and he’s like ummm can you stop following the redhead please ????
  • This sounds like something my oldest would have benefited from had we had it available. But good for you! :) Also, have you thought yet about where the girls will go to school? Thanks for sharing!!
  • Wow Von sounds a lot like my son! He was actually speech delayed and in preschool for that. One day he just memorized his letters and letter sounds and started memorizing sight words. His teachers were floored and he was kicked out of the program because was to intelligent for it. He memorizes everything! I loose things and ask him where they are and he knows lol. Kindergarten is 2 years away but I’ve been wondering what to do with as well because he legitimately could go to kindergarten today and still be ahead of kids. So this is definitely something to think about over the next 2 years! Also never knew Mike went to West Point! My brother was excepted in to West Point and Annapolis and decided on Annapolis and graduated a few years ago.Never would have seen Mike in the military! love following you and your family!
  • You had me hook, line and sinker! I know this would be a great style of education for my 5 year old. I googled UM school near me and they are 2 hours away. Bummer! I definitely don't think I could swing homeschooling! Thank you for sharing!
  • Sounds like you have made the best decision for your children. No one knows them better than you!!
  • How does one go about getting information to get a university model school started in their area! I love this!
  • I had no idea your husband was a west point grad! I am a Navy Grad! :) I love following you guys!
  • I love love love your family dynamic and as a new mom I want to be best prepared for Homeschooling. I loved your blog on University Model Schooling and I have a few questions. Do the children need to be vaccinated to attend school 2 or 3 days a week? I am very thankful of all of the wisdom lol Jess
  • What an amazing blog post. You explained the School’s model and your reasons very well! As a mother of 4 adult children I can tell you never do I or my friends ever state “ darn I spent too much time with my children”! Great Job Jen! Your truly amazing in my opinion!
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