{Guest Post} An Introduction to Educational Alternatives by EW Taylor

 Zoo Academy by E.W. Taylor
Amazon.com: Kindle Edition
An Introduction to Educational Alternatives
by EW Taylor

Alternative education promotes a variety of approaches to education and learning that are different from those found in mainstream school systems. Also known as non-traditional education, this method has roots in philosophies that have fundamental differences to common school based teaching. This is a result of parents’ or students’ dissatisfaction with aspects of traditional education and often has strong philosophical, political or scholarly orientations. Most alternative education systems emphasize small class sizes, a sense of community, and more informal relationships between teachers and students.

Waldorf Education

Also referred to as Steiner education, Waldorf education approaches teaching from a humanistic point of view and it is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. This method of education acquired its name from the first Waldorf School opened in 1919 for the children of employees at the Waldorf-Astoria factory in Germany. The Waldorf education system encompasses public and charter schools, as well as home schooling environments.

Waldorf education divides child development into three broad stages that last approximately seven years each. Early education has a focus on practical activities and environments that give the child an opportunity for creative play. Elementary school aims to develop the student’s social capacity and artistic expression, leading to both creative and analytical thinking.

Secondary education fosters idealism and develops critical understanding of life concepts. This method of education stresses the importance of using one’s imagination in learning and integrates academic, practical, and artistic value. Waldorf schools have a high level of autonomy through which they decide the best curricula for themselves.

Montessori Education

This is an approach to education that was the brainchild of Italian educator and physician Maria Montessori. Available in over 30,000 schools all over the globe, it offers education for children from birth to the age of eighteen. The main characteristics of this method of education is its emphasis on freedom within limits, respect for a child’s natural growth and value of independence although there are various other practices that exist under the Montessori umbrella. Maria Montessori founded her philosophy under the belief develop optimally when they are at liberty to interact freely within their environment.

Montessori identified universal, innate traits in human psychology, which she termed as ‘human tendencies.” In her approach, these traits determine human behavior at every stage of development, to which she devised a system of education that responds to individual character and facilitates free expression.

Montessori education divides human development into four distinct periods, referred to as “planes.” The first plane starts from birth to six years of age, six to twelve for the second, twelve to eighteen and eighteen to twenty-four. The educational approaches appropriate to each plane are characterized by different modes of learning and developmental imperatives.

Open Schools

Another alternative education method is the open school, which is an outgrowth of the British infant school design. It aims to make its students independent and self-determined learners and free thinkers. Students at advanced levels in free schools often volunteer in various locations, and can take college courses for either high school or college credits. Open school students also develop and maintain class schedules independently.

Open schools are developed with a structure that is community-based, with advisory groups known as “families” directing the students in their development of various learning activities and functions. There are often student councils, which contain two representatives from each “family.” Student Council meetings provide an opportunity for the representatives to bring forward any ideas and questions that may be important for discussion. This approach encourages leadership traits to be developed among students, making students active participants in the development of the curriculum.

Sudbury Schools

A Sudbury school is one that encourages democratic education, where students are allowed to decide individually how to spend their school time, with learning coming as a result of day to day experience instead of education through a predetermined syllabus. Students at Sudbury schools take full responsibility for their education, with the schools being run through direct democracy whereby students and staff are treated as equals.

Sudbury Valley School, which was founded in 1968 in Massachusetts, was the first school of this kind and gave this method of education its name. With over 30 schools all over the world having adopted this model, they do not share any formal association but have a loosely connected support network.

The learning process at these schools is self-motivated and initiated by the students themselves. The students rely on free conversation and meaningful interplay between people for the exchange of ideas aiming to give exposure to areas of human experience that may be of interest to the individual. There is no age segregation among the students, with children of all ages mixing freely and learning from each other. Students develop their social skills through mentoring by their peers. As such, there is no formal testing and Sudbury schools do not offer evaluations or transcripts.

Reggio Emilia

This is an educational approach that caters primarily for children between the ages of 3 and 6. Founded as a new method of early childhood education after the Second World War by Loris Malaguzzi, it is named after her hometown. The guiding principle of Malaguzzi’s philosophy is the belief that young children have common traits of curiosity, competence and self confidence, and have the innate ability to thrive in a learning environment that is self guided and provides for mutual respect with his or her teachers.

Reggio Emilia schools have no set lesson plans and a flexible curriculum that that emphasized development on the students’ terms. This type of education also stresses the importance of a parent taking an active and visible role in the early education of their child, and the classrooms are explicitly designed to look and file like a home. Art plays an important role in the Reggio Amilia education system, with most schools having an ‘atelierista,’ an art teacher who assists children in their projects. These teachers document each step of a child’s development extensively, through folders of artwork while making sure to note the story behind each piece as told by the child.

According to Louise Boyd Cadwell, who interned at two schools in Italy, Reggio Emilia is all about supporting children’s thinking through exploration of their world, instead of simply providing ready-made answers.

 Zoo Academy by E.W. Taylor
Amazon.com: Kindle Edition
Genre – Children’s Book
Rating – G
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Zoo Academy – Where Animals Talk And Children Learn!

Zoo Academy is a very special place. A zoo like no other where only the most intelligent and skilled animals live. Run by the ever-friendly Zookeper, Barnaby, Zoo Academy is not only a great place for children to visit but an amazing place for them to learn a variety of subjects. From Languages to History, Geography to Arts & Crafts, the talented animals at Zoo Academy have every topic covered.
Let your child’s imagination be whisked off to a magical place where stories are beautifully told, exotic animals communicate with kids just like them and where learning is fun!

In this fantastic first story in the Zoo Academy series, Mr. Khan, an elephant and expert in History, takes our characters Emily and Jack on a whistle-stop tour of the wonders of Ancient Rome. From Romulus to Julius Caesar and all the way through to modern-day Italy with a little help from Lydia and George, Zoo Academy’s resident Geography specialists, this is a great book to ignite your child’s interest in history.

Told in a way that is informative and fun in equal measures, this book is a great way for children to feed their imagination whilst building a passion for literature and history. Finishing with a fun quiz, Mr. Khan’s History Lesson is positioned at children up to the age of 11, but is a great book for kids of all ages.

Table of contents
Jack And Emily Meet Barnaby
Going To See Mr. Khan
All About Ancient Rome
Modern Italy
What An Amazing Day
Quiz Time

In this fantastic second story in the Zoo Academy series, Dr. Penelope (a penguin) and Einstein (a polar bear), experts in Science, teach our characters Andrew and James about Global Warming and How To Save The Planet. A great book for children to not only learn about science in a fun and engaging way but also learn more about taking care of planet earth.
Finishing with a couple of experiments that children can perform in order to learn more about science, Dr. Penelope & Einstein’s Global Warning is positioned at children up to the age of 11, but is a great book for kids of all ages.
Table of contents
A Warm Return To Zoo Academy
A Hot And Cold Warning
A Home Run
Further Experiments You Can Do To Learn More About Science


Picasso & Lucy’s Colorful World is the third book in the amazing Zoo Academy series. Picasso and Lucy (a Peacock and a Pink Flamingo) give our character Hannah a painting lesson she’ll never forget. A great book for children to learn about primary, secondary and complementary colors in a fun, involving way, this is a great story that will keep children engaged every step of the journey. This book is not only great fun but it encourages children to get hands-on and participate to embed their learning in a unique way.
Finishing with additional fun and creative activities Picasso & Lucy’s Colorful World is positioned at children up to the age of 11, but is a great book for kids of all ages.
Table of contents
A Rainy Day At The Zoo Academy
A Colorful Encounter
The Color Wheel
Lesson Over
Time To Go
Further Activities You Can Do To Learn More About Colors

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