You might call textbook learning "traditional" education. Textbook education is what most of us have grown up with—certainly any of us who were taught in a public school classroom—and basically means using either textbooks or worktexts (which contain both instruction and workpages in a single book) for teaching. This type of education offers distinct books for each subject area, like math, science, grammar, vocabulary and history. The books are usually written for a classroom, although the publisher may have taken home school families into account as well.
When used as the publisher intended, textbooks help the home school function like a typical classroom, keeping kids at "grade level," helping them study topics that other children of that grade level would be studying. Textbooks usually have answer keys, tests, and other resources, which can aid the parent in explaining concepts and help in grading, accountability, and keeping records. Combined, these elements offer a sense of routine and security, especially for those just starting to home school.
Over time, these elements may become less important as the parent gains experience. The learning style of the student may not work well with textbooks, or the time involved in doing the requirements of textbooks may prove to be too much, or the parent might simply prefer a greater degree of flexibility. In any case, it has been our experience that many parents start with a full "textbook" approach and eventually branch off to using other approaches as well.
A few prominent companies that offer textbook approaches are:
A Beka Book (A Beka only sells new materials direct from their website, through reps and on the CBD.com website. We offer used only: see our overview and selection)
Alpha Omega Publications (we carry most individual LifePacs in both new and used and offer all of the Horizons materials. We can also special order other materials like the Switched-On Schoolhouse software. 10% off year-round, 20% off in April: see our selection).
Bob Jones University (we carry most of their materials in both new and used. 10% off subject bundles year-round, 10% off individual items in July)
Christian Liberty Academy (We carry their entire product line in new and have a variety of used materials; sporadic sales are available througout the year.)
Rod & Staff (We can't offer this new, but we do carry what we can used: see our overview and selection)
Christian Light (We recently opened up to offering this used; there's not much here yet!)
School of Tomorrow (PACEs) (We don't plan to ever offer PACEs as we find them immature and too fundamentalist in tone for us to stomach)
For a short, but more in-depth overview of each of these and other publishers that offer comprehensive curricula, please visit Cathy Duffy's publisher reviews.
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