In the Traditional Approach, graded textbooks or workbooks follow a scope and sequence that covers each subject in 180 daily increments over a span of 12 years. Teacher’s manuals, tests, and record keeping materials are usually available that correspond to each of the texts. Textbook curricula assume you will run your home school like an institutional school.
Worktext programs present textbooks in consumable workbook format. The student learns his lesson, is given assignments, and is tested all in the workbook. The worktexts include tests or checkpoints to ensure that the material in each section is mastered before the student moves on to the next. Worktexts also allow more independent study and require minimal teacher preparation time and supervision.
Video programs are also available that are actual classrooms on video. The child follows along with the video as if he or she were attending an actual classroom, and uses the accompanying textbooks or workbooks.
Traditional curricula are also available on computer. Many satellite schools and well as universities now offer computer courses on CD or through the internet.
Most of the textbook and worktext programs used in private Christian schools are available to homeschoolers. They each share a distinct doctrinal perspective, and usually contain strong elements of essentialism (the view that there is one “right” essential course of study for all children).
Some questions to ask yourself before trying the traditional, textbook approach are listed below. Yes answers indicate this approach may work for you and your child:
1. Did my child perform well in a school classroom?
2. Does my child like to complete assignments and to have defined goals?
3. Is my child academically oriented?
4. Will my child complete assigned tasks with a minimum of prodding from me?
5. Am I the kind of person who will follow through with the lesson plans and pace of the course of instruction?
Some additional questions to ask before using the workbook approach with your child:
1. Does my child read well and have good reading comprehension skills?
2. Can my child work well independently?
3. Can my child learn without a lot of variety to the teaching materials?
Strengths of the Textbook/Worktext Approach
Everything is laid out for ease of use
Follows a standardized scope and sequence
Has definite milestones of accomplishment
Testing and assigning grades is easy to do
Weaknesses of the Textbook/Worktext Approach:
Is geared to the “generic” child. Does not take into account individual learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, or interests
Assumes that there is a body of information that comprises an education and that this information can be broken down into daily increments
Treats children’s minds like containers to be filled with information
Focuses on transmitting information through artificial learning experiences
Is teacher-directed and chalkboard oriented
Different aged students study different materials
Expensive when teaching multiple children
Discourages original, independent thinking
Has a high “burn out” rate