Gone are the days when preschools functioned only as a transitional medium for kids before the big school. These days, there is more emphasis on creating a strong foundation to enhance the child’s development and give them a conducive environment to grow in. Preschool is a time for your little one to fall in love with education. The right preschool program should help your child grow and learn in ways that best suit their unique mind.

But how do you know which one is right?

To make the decision easier, check out our guide to five popular preschool philosophies and programs.

Montessori

What is it?

Montessori education was founded by first woman physician, Dr Maria Montessori in 1907. Her education methods were based o the scientific observation of each child’s learning process. The curriculum emphasizes nature, creativity, and hands-on learning with gentle guidance provided by the teachers. Children focus on activities that align with their interests, which develops independence and natural curiosity.

The Four main areas of the curriculum are exercises of practical life, sensorial, mathematics, and language. In the Montessori classroom, the exercise of practical life includes hands-on learning with moldable materials to explore new concepts, skills, and passions. Classrooms at this age rarely include desks.

Benefits!

Learning method inspires creativity: Working within the parameters set by the teachers, children choose their own activities. The focus is more on the process than the end result and hence it leads to maximum creativity.

Environment teacher self-discipline: When a child finishes any activity, they need to keep the item back to its place. This process caters to a young child’s intrinsic need for an orderly environment.

Multi-age classroom: Montessori schools have a mixed age group that allows younger children to observe and learn from older peers in the same environment and space and older kids have opportunity to teach younger ones and crystalize their learnings further.

Waldorf

What is it?

This preschool program is based on the teachings of Austrian writer Rudolf Steiner, and it strives to nurture a child’s spirit, soul, body, and interests. The Waldorf program involves creative, hands-on group learning with a focus on rhythmic repetition in a supportive environment. Indeed, the formulation of daily and weekly routines, as well as the cozy atmosphere of the classroom, create a “home-like” environment for the students.

The three R’s of Waldorf early childhood education is Rhythm, Repetition, and Reverence. The stated purpose of Waldorf education is to take into consideration the three ways in which the child relates to the world – through thinking, feeling, and activity. Lessons are experiential, not just studied, encouraging a student’s creativity, independence, and deep understanding of every topic they explore.

Benefits!

Developmental learning: The children learn by imitating their parents’ at home, and teachers in school. Singing rhymes and telling stories are the focus for language development for preschoolers.

Incorporating the nature: This enables the heart of the child to open to its surroundings and to become aware of the aesthetic qualities of life. Branches, leaves, soil, and wings are played on a regular basis

Activity-based: The same concept is learning using various methods, hence simplifying the learning for the children. They develop their motor skills by doing activities cooking in groups, building blocks, and more.

No Media: The Waldorf method is quite different than most for a few other reasons as it excludes any kind of media (computers, video, or any electronics), and does not involve traditional academics.

Reggio Emilia

What is it?

Reggio Emilia is a child-directed approach that views children as active participants in the learning process. Originating in Italy, Reggio facilitates choice, problem-solving, communication, and relationships. The teacher’s role is to be a co-constructor of knowledge by building on a child’s ideas to help the child create new knowledge. In this teaching method, teachers, parents, and children are equal contributors to the learning initiative.

The teaching is environment-based. Here, the educator puts more emphasis on listening to the children. The methods used to teach children are with natural resources as such pebbles to count the numbers, leaves, sky, and flower for colors, etc. In this methodology, the best way for the child to learn is by asking questions rather than providing them with information or encourage rote learning.

Benefits!

Inquiry-based learning: The classes use provocation techniques for children to ask questions. Students learn to observe and make inquiries about the world around them and develop a drive for exploration and discovery. Collaborative classroom activities foster relationships with others and the world around them.

Teachers as facilitators: In this methodology, the teachers are not instructors. Rather, they provide assistance and partner in the child’s learning. Educators observe, listen, and document and child’s work and the growth of the classroom in order to provoke and stimulate thinking and collaboration with their peers.

Parental involvement: There are several activities that are indulged in with the help of parents. For example, a part who knows how to bake. comes to the school and has an interactive and fun baking session with the children. Parents often accompany the children to field trips as well.

Play – Way

What is it?

The PlayWay Methodology is based on the insight that ‘Play’ is the natural instinct of children; that every child possesses the same potential at birth, and it is the appropriate educational environment that shapes the growth of the child. The informal and free environment gives the child an opportunity to explore concepts of mathematics and language using various learning tools.

Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel is widely acknowledged as having developed the ‘PlayWay’ methodology of early education. He was a German pedagogue who he coined the term ‘Kindergarten’ which means ‘Child Garden’ in German.

Friedrich believes that children can learn science with activities that involve conducting experiments, collecting specimens or minerals, or making squashes and jams. A lot of field trips, role-plays and demonstrations are part of the play-way method.

Benefits!

Value of group play: Children learn how to get along with others and learn how to get along with others and learn how to handle the conflicts in a group play. Its evolves their social interaction skills and makes them confident.

Activity-based learning: Children learn through mental and physical activities that stimulate their skills and self-expression. For example, if the child is being taught a lesson on animals, he/she could be taken to a zoo, told a story about animals, or even guided through an art project about animals or will be asked to dress-up like that animal. A lot of role plays are part of this methodology

Opportunity to every child: PlayWay allows all children to participate, leading to holistic learning without the burden of performance and evaluation. Every child is involved and given the opportunity to learn in free space, without any inhibitions.

Learning through games: Simple games of peek-a-boo, shaking a rattle, or singing a song is much more important than just a way to pass the time. These early childhood games are vital to laying the foundations for formal education.

Bank Street

What is it?

In 1916, visionary educator Lucy Sprague Mitchell founded what is now known as The Bank Street School for Children in New York City. It was a laboratory nursery school staffed by teachers, psychologists, and researchers who worked to determine the best kind of environment to help children grow and learn to their full potential.

The goal of this style is to encourage children to become lifelong learners. By getting children interested in their surroundings, such as the objects around them, places they see, and the people they interact with, it will spark a love of learning. Rather than just memorizing facts, children are given other ways to learn, such as puzzles, field trips, displaying results through experiments, and blocks.

The approach emphasizes the development of children at different ages, and each child learns on their own terms. The teachers employing this philosophy must have a deep knowledge of human development and be highly skilled at observing children. On the other hand, interaction refers to the child’s engagement with the world and how teachers are able to mould the child being aware of their student’s interests.

Benefits!

Learning through experience: A driving principle behind the Bank Street philosophy is that children can become lifelong learners by interacting with the environment around them, including other people, different places, and various things, and then interpret what they’ve just experienced.

The centrality of Play: Bank Street College promotes childhood play as a critical component of all children’s development. Play is a child’s primary mode of expression and learning about the world. In this course, a variety of play techniques are introduced, such as child-centered play and the floortime approach. Participants explore and practice techniques that promote self-regulation, self-esteem, mastery, and social, emotional, and cognitive development in typically developing children, as well as in children with special needs.

Parents as Partner: Collaboration between parents and teachers has been an
essential quality of Bank Street methodology since its inception. Parents and teachers working together serve as the building blocks of the child during those early years. Bank Street is governed by a coalition of parents and staff who meet monthly, commonly known as the Parent-Teacher Association.

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