Traditional: The belief that there is a set, core base of knowledge, generally unchanging from age to age, that every child should know to be considered an educated person; School is about being taught or gaining this knowledge base. Knowledge is usually broken down into specific subjects, ie math, English, history, science, etc., and studied individually for focus.
This philosophy, not surprisingly, is behind all those traditional standardized tests and why we have a textbook market (both secular and Christian). It also was the prevailing educational philoshopy in much of America's earlier years as a nation. Noah Webster's textbooks and dictionaries provided the foundation for America's academic standards from the late 1700's and onward for over 100 years.
The Traditional approach works well with a "fact and detail" oriented child who needs clear incremental steps and logical organization to their subjects.
The major text book publishers follow the traditional method. These notably are Abeka, Bob Jones, Alpha Omega, and Christian Liberty Press.
(Links to traditional publishers and programs can be found in our Curriculum Publishers Section either listed individually or within Exodus Provisions bookstore)
Progressive: This philosophy (which became popular in the late 1800's) believes a child only needs to learn those practical skills which he can readily apply and which are considered useful for today's society.
Subjects are integrated rather than broken apart from each other to emphasize what is relevant for actual "real world" application. Thus important knowledge is only that which is deemed useful for the application/project; what's useful varies from society to society, age to age (that's why it's called progressive--educational needs and "truths" progress with the ever changing evolution of society).
This philosophy is why those standardized tests and our educational institutions are constantly tinkered with today.
The positive aspects of this philosophy are seen in Unit Studies as this method teaches skills together for a practical purpose rather than disjointed and isolated without practical application (ie, building a birdhouse requires the application of math, reading, research, natural science, etc., integrating all those skills for a purpose).
The Unit Study Method can be useful for a practical-minded child who is goal oriented, prefers a more open-ended approach, and needs to see concrete application to make his studies meaningful.
Unit Study publishers are many and varied. Konos and the Weaver are two of the better known. There are many smaller publishers for topic specific units.
Links to publishers and even free unit study programs can be found on our Unit Studies section on our Handy Links page.
Classical: This philosophy (which has been around since the Ancient Greeks) stresses education is about learning how to learn, and more importantly how to think; It stresses wisdom has been passed down through the ancients and previous sages of societies (the classics).
Much emphasis is given to reading works by the classics to develop rigorous thinking skills and good communication to support your own arguments, as well as studying the arts, history, languages and mathematics of prior societies; much less emphasis--if any-- is placed on learning contemporary practical skills.
Many of our founding fathers received a classical education, and it was the standard method in many of our early universities and private prep schools.
The Classical method can be good for a child who prefers more abstract thinking and likes to focus on and discuss the why and deeper meaning of subjects.
Classical publishers are wide and varied as well. Many of the "how-to" books discuss implementation of this approach. The more popular are The Well Trained Mind, the Charlotte Mason approach (a more modern derivative), Veritas Press, and the Thomas Jefferson approach.
Many literature based history programs follow a classical flavor such as Greenleaf Press, Tapestry of Grace, and Beautiful Feet Publishers.
Links to classical publishers and programs can be found in our Curriculum Publishers Section either listed individually or within Exodus Provisions bookstore.
Unschooling: This is a modern approach. It believes a child will learn what he needs to learn as he goes about his normal life relatively unhindered by outside expectations since a child will learn best when he feels the need to learn it or is interested in learning it.
The assumption is made that the child will naturally have a broad spectrum of interests throughout his "school" life and will naturally desire to learn about them (and not fixate on computer games or avoid helpful subjects he dislikes). The "teacher" is merely a facilitator helping to provide materials in areas the child is interested in.
Common sense dictates this approach would need to be carefully guided by a wise adult and not taken to the extreme of many popular secular unschoolers.
We prefer the modified concept of "Delight Directed Education" as defined by Greg Harris of enriching your child's studies by adding topics or interests that "delight" him (ie, he must learn how to read and he loves dogs, choose books about dogs to read; his love of stamp collecting can be used to teach him geography).
Children who need lots of hands-on activity and "fun" subjects to keep their attention, or need a more personable approach to help learning come "alive," often benefit from a Delight-Directed style of education.
Since unschooling seeks to follow the child instead of any set curriculum, many resources can be used. Our Handy Links page includes lots of resources for free material and references. New Leaf Press and Master Books, listed in our Reference section, in particular provides a number of high quality resource books for the Christian homeschool.
Eclectic homeschoolers blend several schooling philosophies Many homeschoolers find some good points in each philosophy and choose to blend several styles, which then makes them "Eclectic" homeschoolers.
Most families implement the approach (or blend of approaches) which best fits their overall family temperament rather than trying to implement a style for each child. Also, if it makes sense and fits the parent-teacher, then the parent-teacher in turn can always adapt it to a particular child's learning style or needs.
Remember, Education is much more than Academics
True education is much more than facts, figures, rigorous thinking, or practical job skills but is rather a whole-life discipleship of a child that develops his mind, heart, character and talents to honor God. The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself, for this is the sum of God's law.