Schools of Thought: Alternative Early Childhood Education Models

It's becoming apparent that traditional schooling methods are extremely flawed. The system of sending children to school where they learn without the proper context is the dominant ideology. Many people are tired of it. 

However, many parents are unaware of other options. They think the way things are is the only way to obtain an education for their children. 

Thankfully, there are alternative solutions. Children in kindergarten, early elementary,  and preschool can benefit from alternative learning methods. The Reggio Emilia Approach, Montessori method, Waldorf schooling, and other progressive methods, founded many decades ago, are among the options available. 

But which form of schooling is best? If you've found yourself asking that question, you're in the right place. This article will be your introduction to alternate early childhood education models.

Going outdoors and connecting with nature is typical in a Reggio-inspired school

Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach, named after a village in Italy, was developed after World War II by thinker Loris Malaguzz. 

It focuses on giving power back to children. Children learn based on their natural instincts of play, touch, and observation. They develop relationships with other kids and learn how to express themselves. 

No day is the same as the other in a Reggio-inspired classroom. How so? Well, children in Reggio Emilia schools express themselves through many modes of language to share their knowledge and learning (these are called the “hundred languages”). Children draw, paint, make music, tell stories, go on field trips, and much more. They also use a variety of natural materials to express themselves. Commonly seen in a Reggio classroom are paint, clay, and natural and recycled materials. Reggio kids are encouraged to learn in ways that best suit them.

Activities and materials are provided to awaken each child's creative and perceptive potential. Children, rather than learning bits of trivia, are learning how to observe, connect ideas, and think. This helps them articulate their thoughts into ideas and actions later in life. Children learning in Reggio-inspired classrooms innovate and engage in productive projects and work throughout their lives.

Montessori Method

The Montessori method is a similarly democratic way of teaching children. However, it's a bit more prescribed than in a  Reggio Emilia classroom. 

The Montessori method uses materials designed by Maria Montessori, the woman who founded the ideology. These materials are used in a preassigned order, and so they bear more similarities to traditional education. 

The Montessori method, though more unique than traditional education, focuses on one-on-one teaching. This contrasts with the Emilia approach, which teaches children to collaborate. 

Though the Montessori method is good, we suggest getting as far away from traditional schooling as possible.

Waldorf Schools

Waldorf schools also focus less on "academic knowledge" than do traditional schools. However, unlike the Reggio Emilia approach, they're attached to old materials, and often don't allow new technologies into the classes. 

While it's great to have a firm pedagogy, it's important to embrace new technologies. You don't want your children to be among those who think the next world-changing innovation is just a “dumb fad”.

Alternative Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education, between the ages of 0-8 years, is extremely important to the development of a child's mind. Though a child might learn more "academic" information in a public school, what they learn in an innovative early childhood classroom will help them grow intellectually and navigate the world. 

If you want to raise your kid to be different from the rest, to stand out as leaders, consider an alternative approach. While there are many options out there, we highly recommend the Reggio Emilia method. 

For more information, apply with us today.

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