Montessori, Reggio, or Waldorf: Which Approach is Best For Your Child?
When matching the right preschool to your child’s needs, it is important to understand what makes each option distinct. While one type of learning environment might be the perfect place for your toddler to thrive, another may present unanticipated challenges. Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf are all quality schools in their own right with schools offering characteristic teaching philosophies and goals that are worth exploring. But which of the three is the ideal choice for the modern child?
Developed in the early 20th century by Dr. Maria Montessori, there are now over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide. The Montessori philosophy combines academics with self-directed learning.
The curriculum at Montessori schools revolves around allowing students to learn at their own pace, and pursue interests that they choose. Their “Follow the Child” mentality positions teachers as guides whose role is to lead the child to self-discovery. The Montessori teachers do focus on academics, but never at the expense of individualised learning.
Montessori’s learning environment and montessori programming is grounded is creating a stimulating classroom environment, full of equipment and materials called “manipulatives” which encourage children to learn independently.
Reggio Emilia schools have made a distinct footprint in early education, serving young children from infancy, through middle school. The approach is inspired by a group of women just outside of a little town- Reggio Emilia- in Italy, who wanted their children to grow with the principles of justice and equality. Loris Malaguzzi heard about the unique approach and played a key role in developing the Reggio Emilia curriculum. It is an excellent choice for progressive parents who want to teach their children to be strong and independent learners.
Project-based learning is the focus of the Reggio Emilia approach, and students are given the opportunity to explore their education through drawing, music, dance, sculpture, painting, drama, and pretend-play. The role of teachers is to collaborate with students to facilitate their individual exploration.
At Reggio Emilia schools, the classroom is considered the third teacher, and is filled with natural elements to inspire the children. Through social engagements in the classroom, children learn to be better citizens through cooperative problem solving. The students’ activities are documented through written observations, photos, and videos, to help students realize their growth.
With an emphasis on liberal arts, Waldorf Schools’ goal is to awaken the creativity and talents that already lies within children. With over 1,000 schools across more than 60 countries, they boast a 94% college attendance rate, later in life.
Waldorf Schools combine play-based learning with a dependable routine to engage with liberal arts like reading, singing, acting, and more. The curriculum treats each child as a developing individual, and tends to their creative-thinking skills.
Waldorf schools provide a home-like environment for children to explore their interests. Students are given plenty of opportunity to spend time outdoors, where they engage in play based activities like baking, pressing flowers, and carving pumpkins. Neither media nor electronic technology are allowed in the classroom.
The Right Choice for the Modern Child
While each of these schools offer a wide range of benefits for parents to consider, we find that the most comprehensive approach is Reggio Emilia’s. Especially for parents who value a flexible educational structure and constantly-evolving curriculum, this institution will not disappoint.
What makes it ideal for modern children is that its focus on good citizenship helps growing minds navigate the increasingly social world they live in. By tailoring their project-based approach to each child’s individual interests, the early childhood educational approach is able to encourage independent learning while also drawing-out unique talents.