Q and A: Will my child survive in a traditional school after studying in a progressive school?

This is a classic question. We usually hear this question from parents who are opting for a progressive preschool and are planning to bring their child to a “big” school for elementary.

There’s a rumor going around that children from progressive schools do not thrive in traditional schools.

Let me reiterate that this INDEED is a rumor and not a fact. First off, I’ve had students who passed Big School Entrance Tests and I’ve had students who didn’t. Unfortunately, it’s easier to blame the preschool when the latter happens.

When a child is not thriving in a traditional school, it’s very easy to blame the progressive preschool where the child came from. The list is endless: there were no worksheets, the children were too “free”, the classes were not divided into subjects, the teacher was too “nice” (as opposed to being more strict)… BUT PARENTS, weren’t these the same things you looked for in a preschool?! It’s just not developmentally appropriate to instill the opposite of all of these in a preschool class.

I observed the class of my daughter who graduated from a progressive elementary school. Background story: she was originally from UP-CDC when she was 5. UP-CDC is the epitome of progressive learning. Then she went to a private girl school (traditional) along the Katipunan Area where I also graduated. She got great grades and was even in the honor roll every year. But something in her eyes and demeanor told me that she wasn’t happy being in school. She felt anxious every Sunday with the idea that she had to go back to school the following day. Taking the advise of a good friend, I went to check out The Learning Tree which was just 5 minutes from my house. My daughter will be an incoming 4th grader. My husband was hesitant (as all husbands are when you say the name of a school that’s not “known”) but I perservered (as all wives do). My daughter then transferred to TLT for grade 4. The change was evident.

She looked forward to school. Enjoyed the company of her classmates (they were only 25 in class). She was eager to learn new things and her self-esteem reached higher heights.

Then came graduating year, Grade 6. We opted to look for a private high school since we thought our daughter needed this kind of education to prepare for college in four years. We enrolled her in a private girl school in the Pasig Area. She wasn’t happy at all. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good school. My daughter just didn’t thrive. I then decided to homeschool her until she graduated. I’m happy to report that she will be studying in the Ateneo de Manila University this June 🙂

It’s easy to say that she did not thrive in the private girl school in Pasig BECAUSE she came from a progressive school like The Learning Tree. I DISAGREE. She did not thrive in that school because she did not fit in that school. A lot of my daughter’s classmates from TLT went to big traditional schools and they thrived in them. I decided to homeschool her because she wanted to take up other things like guitar and Japanese. She was able to be more proficient in both with the time that homeschool provided for other life skills. So the decision to transfer her from a traditional school to being homeschooled, was a decision that was made entirely on how I know my daughter.

I’ve had students who came from us, a progressive school, who are thriving in big traditional schools. I also have students who came from big traditional schools and who are now thriving in our school. It is not the fault of the school they came from, most of the time. It just wasn’t a good fit.

The goal of progressive education is to educate in the present. I cringe when I see schools market themselves with taglines like “If you study here, your child will be sure to enter Big Traditional School A!” like it was the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to give developmental, interactive and experiential education. It is through this that the child will be fully prepared to face any and all experiences he will face in the future.