Montessori what? Waldorf Who?

Here’s a list of the popular education philosophies out there to help you decide which will be the best fit for your child!

Montessori Preschools: developed by physician and educator Maria Montessori, this type of preschool takes a developmental approach to learning which emphasizes creativity, nature, and hands-on learning with gentle guidance provided by the teacher. All teachers must have an early childhood undergraduate or graduate degree and Montessori certification. The goal of the Montessori method is to develop a child’s practical life skills, academic ability, character, and senses.

Waldorf Preschools: based on the teachings of Austrian writer Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf preschools strive to nurture a child’s spirit, soul, and body and to focus on the child’s interests. It involves creative, hands-on group learning with a focus on rhythmic repetition in a supportive environment. This approach strives to generate a strong inner enthusiasm for learning and develop children’s innate abilities and talents. Instruction is teacher-directed, and every teacher must be Waldorf certified.

Reggio Emilia Preschools: based on teachings that formed in Italy, this approach emphasizes exploration and the importance of community and self-expression. Children are taught through projects. art, and activities that are tied in with their own interests. This type of teaching is child-led meaning the teachers don’t directly answer the child’s questions, but rather allows them to figure it out themselves.

Faith-based Preschools: Many preschools are sponsored by churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations. They follow academic based school’s approach adding in their religious take. They may incorporate religious practice and religious ideas into the curriculum.

Academic/Skills-based Preschools: Academic programs stress serious preparation for elementary school, with early reading or formal reading readiness activities, an introduction to pencil-and-paper mathematics, and a general air of studiousness. This type of program is also very structured and sticks to it.

Language Immersion Preschools: This approach is like academic/skills based approach, but  incorporates another language into teaching. Either the school will have one part of the day in English, and the other part of the day in the other language, or they will use both languages at the same time throughout the day. This allows your child to learn a second, or maybe even a third language really quickly. It has also been proven that learning another language increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility of mind in young children. Students who are learning a foreign language out-score their non-foreign language learning peers in the verbal and, surprisingly to some, the math sections of standardized tests.

Co-op Preschools:  If you want to be directly involved with your child’s school experience, consider a cooperative preschool. Parents will be with their kids on a daily basis and work closely with the teachers. This hands-on experience allows for the parents and children to problem-solve and work together teaching preschoolers how to resolve conflicts and cooperate. This type of preschool does take a lot of time and effort, so make sure that your schedule can work well with it.