Many preschools have an educational philosophy that guides their classroom instruction and teachers’ interaction with the children.
Here is a brief overview of four popular education philosophies in Kansas City’s preschools – Project Construct, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Creative Curriculum. Preschools may interpret these philosophies differently. For additional information on these philosophies, check out the following articles: Preschool Philosophy 101 and Comparing Preschool Philosophies.
This framework is not organized according to traditional subject areas. Instead, it uses students’ interests to motivate and engage them, encourages children to collaborate and work together, and allows them to take initiative, express opinions and make choices.
This approach is child-centered, with teachers serving as guides. In the Montessori school, play is a child’s work. While there is a focus on academics, the distinguishing feature is that children learn at their own pace. Classrooms are arranged so that children ages three, four and five are all 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. Many parents choose Montessori because they believe it helps their children acquire leadership skills and independence in general.
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. Parents who want their child to be a good citizen may choose a Reggio Emilia program. Children learn about cooperation through the many projects, particularly how to solve problems and resolve conflicts.
Developed by for-profit Teaching Strategies Inc., this system provides teachers with textbooks and written materials that outline a child-centered approach. The company describes it as a “research-based system” that is being used in increasing numbers of preschool programs. It is based on five fundamental principles:
1. Positive interactions and relationships with adults provide a critical foundation for successful learning.
2. Social–emotional competence is a significant factor in school success.
3. Constructive, purposeful play supports essential learning.
4. The physical environment affects the type and quality of learning interactions.
5. Teacher–family partnerships promote development and learning.