Social Issues: What Can Parents Do? This approach, developed by Maria Montessori in Rome in the early preschool education of children with special needs, is child-centered, with teachers serving as guides. In the Montessori school, play is a child’s work, says Wana. While there is a focus on academics, the distinguishing feature is that children learn at their own pace.
That focus on letting children learn at their own pace also affects how classrooms are arranged, with children ages three, four and five all being in the same room. This allows the older children to serve as role models for the younger ones, and also exposes children to different ages. Children generally have the same teacher for those three years, allowing close teacher-student relationships to develop. Many parents choose Montessori because they believe it helps their children acquire leadership skills and independence in general. Jennifer Lucas, who chose Montessori for her daughters, ages five and three, likes the structure of the program and how children learn to work quietly and independently at a task. She also likes the mixed-age setup, although it took her oldest daughter time to adjust to being the oldest in the class.
If you find a Waldorf school, you can trust that it is true to the Waldorf philosophy, since each school and all of its teachers must be Waldorf certified. This play-based approach is characterized by a predictable structure, providing children with a dependable routine, such as certain days of the week for set activities like baking or gardening, as well as mixed-age classrooms with the same teacher for multiple years. What stands out about Waldorf is its stance against traditional grading systems and exclusion of media in the curriculum. Children are introduced to formal reading skills in the first grade. Parents may choose Waldorf because they want to help develop their child’s individualism. Jamie Quirk, Communications and Outreach Director at Waldorf School of Princeton in New Jersey.
Although you may not come across many Reggio Emilia schools, there are many Reggio Emilia-inspired schools based on the approach developed in the 1940s in the town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. After World War II, the community, along with schoolteacher Loris Malaguzzi, came together to develop schools that would help children become better citizens. The overall philosophy is that kids are really encouraged to explore. Reggio Emilia schools are known for a project-based approach, which many preschool programs have borrowed. In a project-based curriculum, lessons are based on the interest of the students.
Reggio Emilia programs are also known for documenting what children do, taking photos, making videos, writing observations. Then children and teachers can review what they’ve done throughout the year. Parents who want their child to be a good citizen may choose a Reggio Emilia program. Children learn all about cooperation through the many projects, particularly how to solve problems and resolve conflicts. Very similar to play-based learning, Bank Street was developed by the Bank Street College in New York City. Developed by for-profit Teaching Strategies Inc. Although many of the philosophies and curricula overlap to some extent, it’s more common to see a formal curriculum when you visit local preschools, even if the program calls itself play-based.