Alternative Education from the Mainstream some Choices for you

Many parents today are looking at alternative education in preference to mainstream schooling.  Instead of having their children’s creativity thwarted and their natural individuality removed by the “paint inside the lines” mentality, parents feel that alternative education will enhance their children’s unique personality components.  In order to fulfil this, they need to make a choice of the wide variety of alternative education available.

We will touch on just a few of the alternative education available:

Montessori Internationally-Acclaimed Schooling and other Progressive Schools; Waldorf (or Rudolf Steiner) Schools; Carden Schools

Montessori Internationally-Acclaimed Schooling and other Progressive Schools

Montessori Schools first appeared in America in 1915.  Founded by a woman who was born in Italy in 1870, Dr Maria Montessori may well have developed this unique manner of schooling due to her own experiences.  She studied engineering for seven years, after which she switched to medical school.  (She also had the distinctive honour of being the first woman in Italy to earn her doctorate in medicine).  The Montessori motto is “Follow the Child” as indeed Montessori teachers do.  Montessori alternative education schools are age-specific and are typically grouped into five different groups:

newborn to age 3 (Montessori toys and educational tools are available for newborn to age 12 for use in the home); ages 3 – 6 years; ages 6 – 12 years; ages 12 to 15 years; and finally ages 15 to 18 years.

In these progressive schools, the teacher is in a classroom to guide. The children decide upon what they would like to study.  So it would not be unusual to find different students in this type of alternate education of the same age studying anything from maths and science to music and art in the same class. 

Waldorf (or Rudolf Steiner) Schools (K-12)

Like Montessori schooling, the Waldorf educational system is also based on the child’s needs and preferences, rather than the teachers or schools.  Working on a child’s natural love of learning, the Waldorf alternative education system believes in holistic schooling.  They consider that:

children up to the age of seven learn through movement and self-determination; ages 7 – 14 years they learn through their emotions; and ages 14 – 21 years initiative emerges and forms.

Parents have a choice of either sending their children to a Waldorf School or enjoying their home-based curriculum.  Home schooling is sometimes the only alternative education system for missionaries, farmers and families that travel a lot.  In either case, the Waldorf Schooling system helps to enhance every child’s natural talents from modelling clothing to the joy of painting and beyond.

Carden Schools (K-12)

Founded by Mae Carden, this alternative education is based on the belief that every child should be able to aspire and if they fail to achieve, it is due to the fault of their teachers.  Though you would think that this places a heavy burden on the teachers, this alternative education system is firmly set.  Carden schools’ viewpoints are that communication is paramount and the ability to learn is established by the learning of phonetics.

Carden School’s textbooks are not illustrated as they encourage children to use their imaginations and later, initiative.

Carden School’s classes are usually no more than 20 students and contrary to the Montessori alternative education method, their classes are grouped according to academic performance rather than age-specific.  This essentially results in the teacher being able to handle the same competency-based students.

In summary:

Parents need to do thorough research into the alternative education choices that they feel would be most suited to their child’s needs and also what is available in their areas.

They also need to take into account the accreditation of the various alternative education resources that are available.  Another important factor to consider is how easily the child would fit into mainstream schooling if they chose that alternative education facility.

Other dynamics to consider would be costs, whether textbooks, exercise books and other study materials are provided or not at the alternative education learning centers.

Parents should visit the alternative education schools, speak to the teachers and students (if permitted) and even ask to sit in on a class or two before making up their minds.  After all, a child’s education is the overriding factor in selecting alternative education as their entire livelihood is based on these important choices.