The STAR Model vs the Hybrid Model

Over the many years that I have been homeschooling, I have watched the homeschool community evolve. Once upon a time, homeschool mamas were wearing denim jumper dresses and grinding their own wheat. Homeschool curriculum sales used to be the place to catch up with friends and to score deals on materials that would fill the many bookshelves in a homeschool family’s house. Each and every homeschool family was unique, or, ”eclectic,” and they embraced that. Homeschool moms were tough, pioneers, and okay with being ”different” from society.

Homeschooling has changed. The denim jumper dresses are gone (thank goodness!). Used curriculum sales are hard to pull off because few people show up and homeschool mamas can hardly give away the materials that blessed their family so much.

What happened?

Enter: the Hybrid Homeschool Model

A short description of the hybrid homeschool model is:

A two day per week private school option where all curriculum is chosen by the school and moms implement that curriculum three days per week at home.

I think that sums it up. Sometimes they require uniforms or t-shirts. Sometimes there is required placement testing.

Typically, kids are dropped off two days per week and there is little to no parental involvement in the classroom. Kids are placed in classes with students who are at the same grade level, sit at desks, and are taught by teachers. It is pretty much like school.

Moms have no need of used curriculum sales any more, because they need to purchase the exact curriculum that their child’s school program has decided for them.

The hybrid model is great if:

  • You would really like to send your kids to private school, but find it to be too costly. 
  • Your kids fight you at every turn and make it feel impossible to homeschool them every day of the week. 
  • You hate planning curriculum and you want someone to make these decisions for you.
  • You can afford the program (paying teachers and staff 2 full days per week adds up).

The hybrid model is a good option for many families. We used a hybrid model for a while for one of our sons who had attachment issues and really struggled to learn under my teaching. And then we utilized a hybrid community again, for one of our daughters when we first moved from Oregon to Virginia. She was upset about leaving friends in Oregon. She told me that she was not doing school anymore and she was not going to meet any friends in Virginia, because all of her friends were in Oregon. Day after day, she refused to do any school work and looked sad. We knew something had to change. We prayed about enrolling her in a hybrid program. It worked out okay for her, until the pandemic hit and everything went virtual. We missed some things about homeschooling, though. 

We missed:

  • Doing some subjects together as a whole family.
  • Having some control over our curriculum choices.
  • Being together more than three weekdays every week.
  • Connection with other homeschool families. Because it was a drop off program, moms didn’t get to know each other like other communities we had been involved in previously.

The hybrid model can be difficult if:

  • There are multiple children in the home (the mom cannot keep up on helping each student when everyone is learning different things in every subject).
  • The mom likes to plan curriculum.
  • The family likes the traditional homeschooling model.
  • The family wants to be at home more than three days per week.
  • A child has learning difficulties or is not “at grade level” in one or more subjects.
  • A child excels in one or more subjects and is not at the same level as peers.
  • The family just moved from another state and desperately wants to meet other homeschool families.

I’m coining STAR as a “hybrid of a hybrid” because the program meets the family’s needs in a unique and special way:

  • STAR is less expensive than a hybrid program. See the tuition rates for more information.
  • STAR meets one day per week instead of two, so families get to have more time together. See the schedule for more information.
  • The STAR curriculum is flexible! Each family will be on the same Bible reading, chapter book reading, memory work and history time period. Other than that, each family gets to decide what to teach their kids.
  • The STAR curriculum is family friendly and easier on mom. Following the STAR model means that each family will have time together every day, reading Bible, a chapter book and going through history together. There are other, optional whole-family subjects as well. Students will need to work on math, language arts and science at their own level, but at least a portion of the day will be spent all together.
  • The STAR curriculum is laid out for those who need more guidance. Each family will receive a Family Guide, which will contain suggestions for several subjects. If you want to follow a program, this will be a great resource for you! If you like to plan your own curriculum this will be a springboard of information for you to jump off of and go in whatever direction you choose. In this way, the *freedom* that comes with homeschooling will not be lost because you’ve joined a community.
  • The STAR community will be a welcome environment for kids who struggle or are advanced in one or more subject areas. Students are often at different levels in: reading abilities, math and science. That’s okay, and one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we can allow our children to soar in areas where they have strengths, and allow them to take their time in areas where they struggle. Math and science will be reserved for afternoon, optional classes at the STAR community. You may choose to enroll your student int these classes, in a level that is appropriate for them. Students will not stand out as being different, behind, or far ahead their peers in the morning program. The morning program will be gentle, and will include: memory work, Bible, a conversation about great literature and poetry, a project (art, science, history or geography), speech, show & tell and a nature walk. Students in middle and high school will have a slightly different schedule, but it will still be a welcoming environment for students. We hope to meet students where they are at, and nobody is going to have to take a placement test in order to participate in a class with other students at their grade level.
  • Because moms of younger kids will stay on site (and moms of older kids are welcome to), moms will have an opportunity to meet each other. We also plan to have several activities, once per month mom’s nights and field trips, so there will be plenty of opportunities to truly build a community of support with each other.
  • If you have a student who fights you on every subject, you are welcome to use the Guide and Community Day as an “authority.” Perhaps a student who is unwilling to do what mom says to do will do whatever is in the guide, in order to be better prepared for Community Day.

Overall, I believe that the STAR model can work for many family situations. We also won’t be requiring uniforms, t-shirts or even denim jumper dresses (though you’re welcome to wear one if you choose). If you want to grind your own wheat (or alternative grains), you get to decide that, too! 😉

Feel free to comment with questions!

About Author

Brenda has been a homeschool mama for many years! Three out of five of her kids have graduated and she has seen the pros and cons of many types of homeschool communities. Brenda has a B.A. from the University of Washington in Culture, Literature and the Arts. STAR Homeschool Community is birthed out of years of experience and a love of homeschooling.

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