5 Big Differences Between Traditional and Progressive Schools: Part 2

Boy on the monkey bars

Many L.A. private schools are a hybrid of educational philosophies, a blend of school types (traditional, developmental and progressive) that define each institution. However, there are schools that are purely traditional or progressive and have chosen not to incorporate a mix of educational philosophies. Any of these school types can offer an academically challenging, intellectually rigorous learning environment. Selecting a school depends on your preferences as a parent and finding the best fit for your kid.


  • Progressive elementary schools utilize play-based projects to encourage learning. In a progressive school, student initiated projects (or projects developed with student input) are more common. In traditional schools, teachers develop lesson plans and projects for students to work on.
  • Traditional elementary and middle schools emphasize formal activities like Cotillion. Manners and proper greetings are considered essential.
  • Progressive schools place less importance on standardized testing. The curriculum of progressive schools is not specifically designed to prepare kids for standard tests. However, some progressive schools may give practice tests to help kids prepare for these exams.
  • Traditional schools encourage friendly one-on-one competition among kids through writing contests, math contests, valedictorian and tryouts for sports teams. Contest results and honor rolls are posted for students and parents to see in traditional schools.
  • Progressive schools typically reward achievements of the elementary school class or grade rather than individual acknowledgements.

See Differences Between Traditional and Progressive Schools Part 1 HERE

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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at csimon2007@gmail.com

One thought to “5 Big Differences Between Traditional and Progressive Schools: Part 2”

  1. I’ve been touring numerous schools like you suggest in the book. I do find that some schools try to be everything to everyone. But, your book and blog are helping me figure it all out.

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