From the brochure …

Textbooks can help direct learning with standardised sequencing. Corresponding teacher manuals, tests and record keeping materials may be available, often with a scope and sequence as approved for schools. Lessons, assignments and tests/checkpoints are provided to ensure material in each section is grasped. Independent study can be fostered, with minimal parent preparation, time and supervision. Comparable to schooling, this approach can allow for individual preferences.

The Traditional Method allows parents to start out with home education using the method that is often most familiar to them, and to their student/s. Many parents adapt this approach progressively as time goes by.

To Elaborate …

In a ‘traditional’ approach to home education, the school classroom is used as the model. There are set start and finish times for lessons in the home environment, and the textbooks chosen have often been designed with a school environment in mind.

For many families, this is an excellent way to commence home education. It may prove the right way to continue, too, if it continues to meet the educational needs of the child and the broader needs of the family.

It is quite possible, using this approach, to choose text/workbooks that are appropriate for the child’s ability in each subject, rather than purchasing a full set of books at one particular grade level. Books are chosen based on the child’s interest, readiness and ability, affording quite a deal of flexibility.

Some Advantages

  • routines and resources will already be familiar to formerly schooled students
  • methods are familiar to parents
  • little or not parental preparation is required
  • students can known in advance what is required of them
  • some systems offer recognised certification
  • departmental ideals are already translated into readily available resources
  • text/work books often cover topics comprehensively, giving a broad range of suggested activities, worksheets and assignments in conjunction with testing
  • corresponding teacher manuals may be available, many of which can be readily understood by home educating parents (some are full of what I term ‘eduspeak‘, but many aren’t)

Some Disadvantages

  • if the routines and resources of school have not worked in the school setting, they may be equally unsuccessful in the home environment
  • just because that’s what happened “when I was a child” is not justification enough to inflict the same on the next generation. It’s more beneficial to look at the individual needs of our individual child and endeavour to meet those needs in individual-specific ways.
  • formal lesson time may be extensive; children may not have time to pursue their own interests
  • may not foster independent thinking
  • learning experiences may be artificial, rather than experiential applied knowledge
  • for some children, textbooks and workbooks are poison to every learning fibre of their inquisitive being

Personal Comments

Our Philosophy of home education points out that we believe that education must be purposeful. Just because a way of home educating looks efficient to a parent, however, doesn’t mean that it will effectively teach their child. Tragic, but true.

In our early days, I interpreted ‘purposeful’ as ‘schoolish’. I had the idea that if our daughter was to enter a traditional institution such as a university in years to come, she would be best served by approaching it from a schoolish model. (We want her to be able to go to uni if she chooses.)

Another of my early misconceptions was that because teaching is a well-researched, very established and respected profession, it would be foolish for me to try to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. I felt that if a professional said a child needed to learn X using a particular strategy, then they must be right. Just as our daughter never behaved according to any of those all-knowing baby books, neither did she learn according to any book. And really, the fun has been in figuring out how we’ll learn something together, rather than how I, Super Educator, will confer some ultimate knowledge to my pupil. Ptooi!

Since those misguided beginnings, I’ve had the benefit of candid conversations with former home educators whose children have succeeded at university from a variety of backgrounds, even extreme Unschooling (Natural Learning with ultimate passion). These days I understand that there are many ways to get to university, or anywhere else in life, and a schoolish approach is not always best.

I’ve also been privileged to have relatives and friends who are teachers, and who are candid enough to share their wisdom in illuminating ways. Apart from seeing the pitfalls in the system they work within, they are able to see that what our little family is doing is advantageous for the child, and offer encouragement and support.

If a traditional education genuinely works for your family, do it – just don’t (as I did) allow narrow thinking to restrict your practices. There isn’t only one road that leads to Rome, so to speak.

If your child is a life-learner, they will find a way to pursue anything they set their heart to.

Useful Links

  • Jacaranda Educational Supplies
    Located at:  15 Bowman Street, Macquarie ACT
    Freecall: 1800 657455   Phone: 6251 5029

    I often recommend this fabulous shop as a starting point for new home educators, regardless of which approach they’re considering. Jacaranda have a fantastic range of all sorts of educational resources, and although they cater for schools, they are well versed with the needs of home educators and are extremely helpful. I always think it’s amazingly helpful to see and touch and feel some resources before you buy anything. A word of warning: it’s very hard to leave this shop without making some sort of purchase.
  • Homeschooling Supplies
    This Victorian supplier has a great curriculum guide that utilises resources used in the public school system. They are a christian family, but their guide is of broad appeal. We used their resources very successfully for a number of years and found their help and advice invaluable.

An internet search will yield an array of suppliers
of curriculum for use in a Traditional Style.

“Tradition is a guide and not a gaoler.”
~ W. Somerset Maugham