Is hybrid homeschooling the best of both worlds for homeschooling families? Read on to find out.
Hybrid Homeschooling Defined
Hybrid homeschooling combines home education and classes taken outside the home at a traditional brick-and-mortar building.
Often referred to as university-model or blended learning, hybrid homeschooling involves:
- A partnership between parents and the educational institution (co-teaching)
- On-campus classes that are typically held 2-3 days per week
- Trained teachers leading classes on campus
- Work is assigned to be completed at home on off-campus days
- Progressive parent involvement through a tiered approach to foster independent learning:
- Private Tutor (Elementary)
- Guide (Middle)
- Course Monitor (High)
Benefits of Hybrid Homeschooling
Hybrid homeschooling affords families many benefits, such as allowing students to experience learning in both a traditional classroom setting and at home.
Inherent to the university-model style and through progressive parent involvement, students grow in their ability to learn independently. The university-model approach mimics a college-style schedule, making the transition to upper-level courses and post-secondary learning smoother. Furthermore, many programs are often college-prep in nature.
Freedom to Pursue Outside Interests
Students are afforded the opportunity to pursue personal interests on off-campus days such as music, art, or sports.
As students attend only 2-3 days per week at the brick-and-mortar campus, families are free to spend more time together than with a traditional public or private school.
Smaller Class Sizes
On average, classes have anywhere from 12-14 students per class.
Many university-model schools offer a Christian worldview.
Many parents enjoy having the burden lifted of course planning, selecting curricula, testing, grading, and keeping transcripts.
Tuition is often more affordable than in traditional full-time private schools.
Limitations of Hybrid Homeschooling
While there are many freedoms, families may find less flexibility when it comes to setting schedules. On-campus days require students to report to the brick-and-mortar building at a certain time and on set days. Annual schedules are dictated by the school and can impact travel and vacation time.
While tuition costs are certainly cheaper in our area (North Texas), in many cases, university-model school tuition may be just as expensive as a full-time private school. Recently, I was chatting with a parent of a new student in my son’s class. The family had just relocated to Texas from Michigan where full-time private school tuition was more affordable.
Curricula Chosen For You
For many families, this alleviates a burden. Selecting curricula can be overwhelming when you consider the amount of choices available. However, if you teach your child solely at home, you have the freedom to switch curricula anytime you deem appropriate or necessary.
No Rabbit Trails
Additionally, schools are not tailored to meet each individual student’s needs and/or wants when it comes to courses. When you homeschool, you can chase as many rabbit trails as you or your child desires. You sacrifice this freedom when you choose to hybrid homeschool.
Oftentimes, university-model schools have stricter dress codes more akin to private schools than public schools. For example, our son is required to wear a uniform unless there is a special pre-planned spirit day. Some kids may feel hampered in losing this bit of choice for personal expression. Uniforms also add to costs.
Accommodations/Modifications for Learning Differences
Some schools may be unable or unwilling to modify curricula or make accommodations for students with learning differences. Our family is fortunate as there is an education specialist on staff who is willing to work with us to meet our son’s learning challenges with dysgraphia.
Lack of Team Sports
While this is not a big issue for our family (our son’s chosen sport is swimming, so we outsource for this class), it can be a drawback for families who are seeking traditional team sports.
Other Considerations of Hybrid Homeschooling
Hybrid homeschooling differs from a traditional co-op setting as parents are co-teachers with the teachers on campus, but are only responsible for teaching his or her own children at home. Exceptions would be if you choose to sign up as a substitute teacher with the school.
University-model schools are not professional tutoring. These programs offer full academic curriculums.
While students are dropped off to attend classes at the brick-and-mortar building 2-3 days per week, the university model program is not a part-time school. Coursework assigned by the school must be completed at home in accordance with the assigned schedule, or the student will fall behind.
There are also additional hidden costs to consider, such as uniforms, curricula, and supplies.
Our Family’s Experience
There were several reasons our family chose to give hybrid homeschooling a try. Here are a few:
I am horrible at math. I relied heavily on YouTube videos and my husband to teach my son math. I knew I needed help. One of the university-model schools near our home used the same math curriculum we did at home. I attended an informational meeting and felt inspired to try something new.
Our Son Was Interested
Our son had playmates in the neighborhood who attended the school, and he was curious to check it out.
After attending the informational meeting and seeing the curricula the program used, my husband and I felt confident our son would be challenged academically. Our son is naturally curious, and we wanted to feed his curiosity and genuine love for learning.
Learning Differences Support
In addition to being challenged, we met with the school’s education specialist and felt confident our son’s learning differences would be addressed appropriately.
As our son got older, we felt it was important for him to learn from someone other than us. Exposure to different teaching styles and learning methods (i.e., group projects and group presentations) could only benefit him moving forward.
Filling Up His Cup
Our son is an only child. Although we were entering our fourth year as a homeschooling family, we had yet to establish a consistent set of playmates. In his younger years, he was content to play with anyone. As he grew, so did his desire to have a regular group of friends to hang out with. In spite of several attempts at traditional co-ops over the years, none stuck. The university-model school helped our family bridge this gap.
As a working and homeschooling mom, having my son attend classes on campus two days per week allows me time to finish work projects or even have a day-date with my husband or meet a friend for lunch.
Thus far, hybrid homeschooling has been the best fit for our family. In the fall of 2023, we began our fifth year as a homeschool family and our second year as a hybrid homeschooling family. However, we evaluate our needs and wants every year.
Where to Learn More
Would you like to know more about university-model schools?
Here is a link to NAUMS, Inc., the National Association for University Model Schools.