1. Traditional Schooling vs. Non-traditional Education
Non-traditional really allows families to be intentional and choose an education according to their values. Traditional school was really formulated to train factory workers in the last century, but training children to think in a robotic fashion is not in their best interest in the short, medium or long term.
Traditional schooling has its place, and if chosen intentionally, can be a great fit for some children. The risk is that it becomes the default, and families don’t think about options if they’re not thinking outside of the box.
Non-traditional schooling attracts a wide variety of families for a myriad of reasons. Like traditional schooling, quality varies wildly.
The biggest benefit to a non-traditional approach is the opportunity to be intentional about the values that a family holds most dear. Families who value a disciplined yet flexible environment 1-5 days/week, want top-notch academics and a device-free environment gravitate towards Seashore. Others prefer an unschooling approach, while others prefer a looser approach towards discipline and prefer a less structured environment. Still others prefer a high tech environment. Regardless of which option they choose, in non-traditional schooling, parents have the opportunity and the responsibility to choose an educational environment that best reflects their values.
2. Seashore has taken the best aspects of traditional schooling and mixed it with elements we consider to be critical to student success.
What we are taking from traditional education (mirrored after private schools):
- Top-notch academic curriculum that mirrors private school quality.
- Disciplined environment with uniforms, bell schedules, recess and the pledge of allegiance.
- Academic assessments, parent teacher conferences, report cards.
How we are different:
- Custom schedule, 1-5 days/week. We allow families the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling with the quality of private education. On the days that students do attend, specific subjects are taught. So they have to homeschool on the other days.
- Entrepreneurship, Financial Management & Public Speaking classes: we prepare children for life success by integrating critical thinking in non-traditional subjects into our curriculum
- Device-free, natural learning environment: we emphasize paper and pencil writing and math, interactive small group learning to foster communication and team building skills, and do not allow screens. This keeps children engaged, mentally alert, and helps boost brain development and engaged learning.
- Small class sizes: we average 1:15 or smaller so that our students get all the individual attention they deserve, yet gain the benefit of a social emotional experience by having other children with whom to interact.
3. Our device free learning environment allows children to be completely free from electronic screens during the school day (8-4 or 9-3, depending on electives).
Electronic devices create passive consumption of knowledge and don’t promote engagement; hands-on, small group learning, in contrast, promotes communication, social interaction, and intellectual engagement. At home, our supplemental homework can be accessed online and our teachers communicate with students via Google classroom, so our students learn to upload papers, communicate digitally like their private school peers. However, instructional minutes during the school day aren’t used for screen time consumption.
4. Our students have been in a happy oasis from the onslaught of social media, screen-time addiction and mental health disorders that have been plaguing children, especially since the pandemic.
We prioritize creating an atmosphere of joy, sunshine, fresh fruits and vegetables, social interaction, and outdoor learning and play. All of these things boost natural immunity and our special emphasis is on happiness and joy. We also attract families who share these values.
5. & 6. There is a linear relationship between an increase in screen time consumption and an increase in depression, anxiety and mental health disorders. There is marginal to no benefit to screen time for young children, and marginal benefit for young adults. Kids are being bombarded with screens almost everywhere else they go.
We do recognize that it is important for children to learn to navigate the digital world, so we offer educational seminars for parents on how to monitor social media consumption at home. We also do have our students upload work onto Google Classroom, so they learn to type, navigate email and the web. It is easy to pull up a free typing game at a home table, so they kids learn to type. It is a lot harder to pull kids off of screen addictions and get them to read a book for fun once they’re used to just watching YouTube. (And harder still to teach them to socialize, interact, debate, negotiate with their peers after they’re used to only DM’ing their friends online.)
We teach children to optimize healthy brain development, learn successful executive function, critical thinking, social cues and interactions, dynamics and emotional intelligence. Technology will always be changing and it should be our tool, not our master.
7. Children thrive when there are clear expectations and healthy boundaries. We offer a structured environment and provide firm behavioral guidelines. We build a joyful community by incorporating fun music throughout the day, indoor/outdoor learning, plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and a natural small group learning environment. We do not accept children with behavioral problems and we give consequences to children who are unkind (such as trash pickup at recess) to promote a safe place for all children.
We ask families NOT to bring sugary sweets for class birthdays, and instead celebrate with stickers, balloons, and games. High fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial food coloring and dyes all negatively impact emotional and physical well-being.
8. Our science and history curriculum is designed to be interactive. In history, students re-enact lessons in skits, and thus learn to interact, negotiate, communicate and work in teams. In science, our hands-on laboratory exercises also promote collaboration and interactive discussions. These invaluable skills directly translate into enhanced relationships throughout life, which is linked to overall life satisfaction and success.