Of all the methods of schooling the traditional school method is probably the hardest to define because usually people just mean whatever the local public school is doing when they say “traditional schooling”. However, in the United States this generally means a subject and textbook based approach to learning.
Kids are taught from workbooks and text books in the basics from English to math to social studies and each study area is separate from the others rather than integrated. In a public or private school setting kids are graded according to their age and all kids in a particular grade are learning the same thing at the same time and at the same pace, with some exceptions.
In addition, modern traditional schooling is heavily influenced by the Progressive theory of education, though not nearly enough so for Progressives. You need to understand these influences because they pervade American textbooks and workbooks. But if you know about them, you can spot them and counteract them, or encourage them, depending on your point of view. This influence can be seen clearly in these areas:
- whole language reading instruction as opposed to phonics
- “invented” spelling and vocabulary in place of a demand for correct spelling and vocab in early grades
- a dislike of competitiveness, even to the extremes in some cases of refusing to assign grades and banning sports competitions
- teaching of social studies rather than history and geography, social studies focusing more on the world as seen from the point of view of the student and including sociological rather than fact based discussion of peoples and countries around the world
- delaying of science instruction until the junior high years
- an emphasis on ideological influences on students including environmentalism, activism, socialism, and other isms, primarily from the left side of politics
- dislike of rote learning, such as memorizing the times tables, poems, grammar rules, and so on
- an emphasis on the community in which a student exists in as opposed to the student’s own achievements
- an emphasis on self-esteem over achievement
Of course local schools vary greatly in how they approach their educational goals and methods, but over time schools have evolved from a mostly classical schooling method to a more Progressive schooling method until we get the hybrid today that people call, “traditional schooling”. Parents teaching their kids with this method at home keep the structure and organization of traditional schooling while substituting their own families philosophy.
Traditional schooling can be a desirable method for many people to do at home when tempered by their own beliefs and tailored to their individual child’s needs. Some of the advantages to the traditional method are that kids who wish to enter school later can do so seamlessly, state standards for each grade are usually well defined and parents can keep up with public school counterparts and make sure they are “covering everything”, many complete packaged curriculum choices exist for this method, taking away much of the work of preparing and administering materials and a curriculum, kids can begin one program of study in Kindergarten continuing through until graduation and have their studies be very uniform, kids who have had schooling previously feel more comfortable with this method, kids who need a very structured day thrive under this method, and the high school transcript translates directly into terms colleges are looking for.
Here are some curriculum options for kids learning using this method at home:
- BJU Press: a Christian curriculum, used in many private schools, but with a complete line of homeschooling choices as well.
- Alpha Omega: also Christian, includes the LIFEPAC curriculum package. You just choose the grade level and they send you everything you need in one box. Alternately you can choose the Switched-On Schoolhouse materials from them, which are the same as the LIFEPAC, but all on the computer.
- A Beka: another Christian curriculum provider who originally existed for the private school market, but has adapted for the homeschool market.
- K-12: sign up online and they send you everything you need for your child’s grade in a box. Many states offer this curriculum for free as an alternative to the local public school–most states even send you a free loaner laptop and pay for your internet connection. There is also teacher over-site for people signed up through the public schools, which is a bonus for some and a negative for others.
- Connections Academy: similar to K-12 and also paid for by many states who know your kid costs less sitting in your house than in their school. These programs are perfect for the parent who wants the traditional schooling experience complete with transcript and diploma, but minus the peer influences and dangers of the local PS. Also time and cash strapped parents looking for better educations for their kids are drawn to these programs.
- Modern Curriculum Press: doesn’t come in a nice tidy grade level box, but all the materials are available to buy piece by piece for your child. Secular.
- Core Knowledge Series by E.D. Hirsch: this isn’t a packaged curriculum, but rather a series of guide books telling you what your child should be covering at each grade level to help you stay on track and in the same place as most traditional public and charter schools. You would use this series as a guide and add in specific text books and workbooks tailored to your child’s preferences. Covers pre-k through 8th. At the high school level you would need to switch over to another program. (These books are probably in your local public library so you can check them out before you buy.) We recommend these books for parents with kids enrolled in a local school who want to fill in the knowledge gaps their schooling leaves.
- Learn at Home Series: an inexpensive set of workbook/guidebooks that covers grade level learning in a complete way. The parent adds in the recommended literature and writing assignments plus hands on recommended activities. An excellent series and an amazing price. Books for grades K-6th.
If you like the traditional schooling methods and curriculum choices, but want a bit more freedom to pick and choose specific resources, check out our pre-K-12 printable curriculum guide for the traditional method.