Thursday, December 13, 2007

The School of Togetherness

I appreciate the sympathy passed my way for the agony of the train ride. It was much deserved, I must say.

A few of you wanted to know more about the school which The Princess attends. If you were just being nice...sorry.

The Princess is in the 4th grade at a University Model School in our area. This is our second year at this school. It is the school's fourth year. Our school currently goes through the 8th grade, but they are adding a grade each year so that class will graduate from the school.

Basically, a UMS is a school that blends the best of traditional school, homeschooling and Christian school. Students attend class at the school's campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A syllabus is sent home each Tuesday explaining what the assignments are for the week. Their work is done at home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The curriculum is challenging. To me. Pretty much what I'm saying is she studies Latin and I am lost. I am not necessarily responsible for "teaching" her. There are a few subjects (spelling, vocabulary, handwriting) that are done primarily at home, but I have a teacher's key and it has not been difficult so far. (Yep. I've got 4th grade knocked out...) I do love knowing exactly what she is learning. I know her strengths and struggles so much better than I did before.

An added bonus is that our school is able to teach the kids at each one's individual level. For example, The Princess is in the 4th grade and is in 4th grade math. Several students in her class go to 3rd grade math and some 5th graders come to her class for math. Students could also go up a grade for a subject if necessary.

One goal of a UMS is to teach children independent learning--the ability to read a syllabus and complete their assignment. Now, let's not think crazy thoughts like The Princess sits in a room and comes out for bread and water. She usually sits at the kitchen table and screams for help every 7 minutes.

Once the students are older, they begin incorporating Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes. Then it is structured as a university schedule (hence the name) and students that have graduated from a UMS have said that college is a breeze.

Our school is a "real" school. There are real diplomas and they take real tests. I only had to tell the grandparents that 542 times.

Another goal of a UMS is to give time back to the family. Our evenings are always open. She never has school work in the evenings. We try really hard to have a hideous Friday so that our Mondays are easy. The King tries to be home on Mondays so that we are able to have a teensy bit of family togetherness. Until someone gets mad because nobody puts their dishes up or picks up after themselves.

Though academics is incredibly important to our school, the ultimate goal is shaping the students' character. It is so much easier to do when the school and the parents are partnered for the same purpose. I love when The Princess comes home asking us to pray for her teacher or her classmate because they've shared a need. I love that the students pray before their tests.

It has been a transition for us. The Princess attended public school through the 2nd grade. I loved our local school. However, she began coming home in the 2nd grade asking whether or not she was a virgin. Not so good.

I had always been a little envious of my homeschooling friends. I loved the idea of teaching her at home. Since The Princess is the only star in this show, though, I didn't think it would be in her best interest.

The UMS has been such a blessing. We are certainly taking it year by year, but we have been very thankful to be a part of such a wonderful environment to this point.

Thanks for asking about it. This is probably way more than you wanted. The UMS website has lots of info about where the schools are located and even which areas have shown an interest in beginning a UMS. If you have any other questions, just ask...unless you are scared I'll answer!!


Amy said...

Knowing the princess and watching her attend both schools, I would say that the UMS has been a blessing for your whole family. The UMS has challenged her and nurtured her. I may have her teach D-Man before it's all over!

The Fritz Facts said...

I have heard of schools like yours, and was interested in finding out about them. The closest one to us is 2 hours away...a bit of a drive for school.
It is great that she is loving it, and is challenged. That is important. I am envious if your free nights and less hectic schedule when it comes to school, that is the hardest part of all.

Headless Mom said...

I love this concept...I will definitely look into this since Headless Dad would love for me to homeschool. It seems like the perfect balance, something that I could definitely do, even though I love our current school.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

That sounds like a great set-up -- the best of all worlds.

Jeni Allen said...

Thanks for sharing the info! We've got some time to figure out what we'll do for girlie's schooling (she's only 14 months old) but I hope a UMS develops in our area! It sounds like a great blend - benefits of homeschooling and socialization of a classroom setting.

Angela said...

Oh that is wonderful to learn about. You didn't give too much information at all. It sounds fabulous!!!

Org Junkie said...

Wow that sounds amazing, you get the best of all three worlds. I've never heard of such a school but am very impressed by the sound of it!

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...

Okay, I want to send my kids to her school...