Non-traditional Learning: The new trend in educating your child - Learning Lab

Non-traditional Learning: The new trend in educating your child

17 AUGUST 2015 | REBECCA ROSENBLATT 


Families today have more options than ever when it comes to education. Public schools, private schools, online schools, charter schools, home schooling: the number of choices can be overwhelming. Over the last several years, non-traditional education such as online learning, one-on-one or small group learning, independent study, and blended learning, which might feature a combination of all three, has become an increasingly popular choice for many families for a variety of reasons.

The number of K-12 students who have taken at least one course online has more than doubled from 2009 to 2013 (http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/k-12-online-education-grows_621/), and homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in the United States (http://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html). Not only has the popularity of non-traditional educational methods skyrocketed, but these methods are becoming more widely accepted at all levels of education and society. Even businesses, along with colleges and universities have embraced full degree programs via online learning.

Many kids flourish in a traditional classroom setting, but for some students, four years of traditional high school is tantamount to four years of torture. Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can make school especially difficult for some kids. Other students may have severe learning differences that make it difficult for them to learn in a room with twenty other students, even with an accommodating and experienced teacher at the helm. Still others may have experienced bullying or ostracism from peers, or have experienced trauma in their personal lives that makes success in a traditional classroom seem impossible. Those who have burgeoning athletic or music careers may require a more flexible schedule than a traditional classroom education can provide. For all of these reasons and more, non-traditional schooling can be a godsend for many families.

Families who choose to go the non-traditional route find quite a few advantages to this style of education. Students can have a much more flexible schedule, which can leave more time for extra-curricular pursuits, internships or even jobs. Many non-traditional educational plans involve a one-on-one teacher student component, which enables tailoring the curriculum to the needs, learning styles, and interests of the student. When a student is working one-on-one with a teacher, or even working independently using an online program, he or she can adjust the pace to fit his or her own needs. The student can speed up or slow down as needed for a particular subject area that might be easier or more difficult, or even for just one concept within a certain course.

Again, flexibility is the key word. No more falling behind because the other students “get it” faster, or sitting bored in class because other students are slower to catch on. For students who have not found success in the traditional classroom, non-traditional educational methods can help build self-esteem and feelings of competence by setting and achieving reachable, realistic, and individualized goals. So, which environment fits your child best?