What is a non-traditional curriculum high school?

YogaIf your child is not thriving in a traditional high school you might be wondering what alternative education options are available to you. Perhaps you feel that the standardized curriculum has a narrow focus and you’d like your son to explore personal areas of interest. Maybe your daughter seems to be more engaged in her education when she has the freedom to learn at her own pace. All of these are common reasons that parents seek out non-traditional curriculum and numerous schools across the country have responded with many different alternatives to the traditional education model.

Conversational Approach

Brook Road Academy takes the conversational approach, which focuses on effective communication. We encourage class discussions to recognize various perspectives and opinions and the faculty details their thought processes to illustrate how a conclusion has bee reached. Using the conversational approach helps students develop the interpersonal and decision-making skills they will need beyond the school walls.

To help facilitate class participation, class sizes are kept small and teachers lead conversation, rather than dictate lessons. The conversational approach helps students assert their views and build confidence, as well as absorb and process the information rather than memorize facts and figures.

All students can benefit from the conversational approach, but those with ADHD, depression, school phobia and Asperger’s have shown an even greater benefit.


Montessori is one of the more well-known alternative teaching methods, with almost 8,000 private and hundreds of public schools adopting this approach throughout the country. Montessori schools are more common at the lower elementary level, however some schools extend through the high school level.

The Montessori method emphasizes children learning and discovering in their own ways. Montessori schools embrace the thought that children are more motivated to learn when working on something of their own choosing. Students choose their daily educational focus, however the choices are restricted to the materials and activities the teacher has prepared. Montessori schools often share classes with students whose ages range 3 years and encourage older students to act as role models and educate the younger students.

The Montessori approach creates an environment that inspires independent learning, responsibility and creativity.


Like Montessori schools, the Waldorf philosophy prioritizes creativity and imagination, however subjects are introduced much more gradually. Teachers often have the same group of students for up to eight years and they focus on music, art and language, as well as the traditional curriculum subjects. Under the Waldorf style, teachers they may concentrate on a single subject for up to a month, believing that gradual exploration is the key to full and rich understanding of various concepts. Waldorf schools discourage the use of mass media of any kind, considering it a disruption to the learning process and an impediment to the nature of play with peers.

Waldorf schools strive to teach through conscious observation, reflection and experimentation to build an education that is based on personal experience and thought.

If you’d like to continue the conversation on non-traditional curriculum options, please contact us. We’re happy to talk about your options and determine which approach might be best to help your child achieve their full potential.