Alternative learning methods are ways of highlighting the ways in which a student learns best. This may be an issue of how the information is absorbed, or it may be a structure through which the information is interrelated. Schools that use alternative learning methods often attempt to match students to the learning method that suits them best. A person need not attend an alternative education institution in order to take advantage of different learning strategies, but an alternative institution will likely be the most accommodating.
Some alternative learning methods deal with how information reaches the student. Students can learn in a variety of ways, including through auditory, visual, and tactile methods. Learners may have a slight preference for one method over another, and one method may be easier to use than others. Allowing students to learn in the way that suits them best often results in a more thorough understanding of the material.
Often, the way in which the material is put together can have an effect on how well it is absorbed by the student. Some schools choose not to separate materials into departments, while others choose to have materials relate to one another throughout the day. By putting information together in interesting ways, students are often compelled to seek out even more information. This method can also help with retention overall.
It is also possible to think about the environment in which learning occurs as a method of learning. Home schooling or online learning, for example, could be considered alternative learning methods. Some students with difficulties focusing might benefit from alternative learning methods that isolate them and give them one-on-one attention. On the other hand, independent learners might find a curriculum or school environment too oppressive and might do better in a Montessori school or other independent system.
Many schools allow for different learning techniques within the classroom, but not all schools have the resources to allow each student to learn in a way that is tailored to his or her learning style. While this might suggest that it is best for students to be home schooled, it is may be more reasonable to say that a compromise must be reached between schools and homes. At home, a student might supplement his or her school day with additional learning in a style that is a particularly good fit. It is also important to consider the fact that students can learn to succeed using a variety of methods. Working to succeed within the parameters of an institution can be a valuable skill in itself. Initiative, in some cases, can make up for any learning lost due to poor technique.