A child’s brain is designed to learn and develop. Children should be given sufficient space to explore the space, environment, and opportunity. Early childhood education centers such as daycare, play school or preschool are aimed at identifying the potential skills of the children in a play-way method. They will be given an opportunity to analyze their environment and solve the queries raised by the little brains. Many child-centric schools follow student friendly approaches for learning such as Montessori, Waldorf and the Reggio philosophy. Parents should understand the concept behind each of these learning techniques to best judge the school which they intend for their children. The early steps of education foundation on tender minds will have an impact throughout their educational career. Colleges look for a student who have critical thinking ability and unique individuality and contribute to the college community.
In a Montessori, children are allowed to work at own pace. A typical class is composed of a teacher, child, and the environment. The teacher creates the class environment and gives freedom to the students in limits, the student utilizes the created environment to develop himself and interact with the teacher for support and guidance. Dr. Montessori has designed learning materials for developing a child’s five senses for both younger and older students. It is a child-centered approach. Most of the Montessori schools will have fewer children and will be managed in a small area. A Montessori program may not be suitable for students who are over stimulated or aggressive.
The classroom learning materials are kept low shelves which allow easy access for the children, the children use the material as long as required and after finishing work, they are trained to place the material at the same place. Montessori toys called manipulatives toys which alarms children if they are assembling or arranging it wrongly. Teachers will be the observers and will help the kids in solving.
A Montessori teacher is trained, credentialed Montessori with principles, concepts, and methods of Montessori. If a school claims to be a Montessori, it is not necessarily credentialed as there is no restriction for use of the word” Montessori”
Highlights of Montessori:
- They are progressive schools which have multiple-age children
- The teachers will be observing and helping children in the process of learning
- Children are free to move around and can engage with an article as long as they are interested
- Different age group children will be in the same area, which motivates younger children to learn and develops confidence in older children
Reggio, this methodology of teaching originated in Italy after World War II to rebuild society. The aim of this teaching method was to make better citizens. Although the Reggio method of teaching is not widely spread it does mark its presence in many educational institutions.
It is a project-based approach where a group of students is assigned a task. The projects will be based on the students’ approach which the teacher frames it as per the educational concept. The progress of the student is assessed by taking the photos, video and pointing out the observations. There is no formal training for the teachers.
Children learn to collaborate, solve problems and to resolve conflicts. The concept is introduced in early childhood education (toddlers and preschool children).
The toddlers are encouraged to explore their environment and when they come up with their questions and doubts rather than solving their questions, teachers assign it as a project. Students will be made to understand the concept. Examples: If a student comes up with a question of how we get fruits. Then probably teachers will ask them to make a project with different types of fruits, trees and make a garden explaining the growth of trees and the formation of fruits. The self-learning approach builds a strong understanding of the concept and zest to explore further.
Highlights of Reggio teaching:
- Children have control over what they are learning
- They learn by using their ability of observation, touch, and listening
- Children will be given an opportunity to explore their environment and fellow children and understand their relationships.
- Children must be allowed to express themselves
It is an essential requirement for the teachers of Waldorf School to be Waldorf certified and also schools need to have Waldorf certifications. There will be designated days for different activities such as painting, baking, gardening, etc. It is good for students, teachers, and parents to know what the student is expected to learn or do in the school today. There is definite predictability element. The schools will have a homely environment with a number of natural elements and toys included. There is no grading system, hence there is no judgment passed about the child. There is a “No” to electronic items such as computers, videos or electronics and there will not be any homework, test. The classroom sessions are mostly in the open outdoor environment. The reading and writing are introduced from first grade.
This education system encourages students ‘how’ to think in a given environment and not forcing them ‘what’ to think. It helps in the overall development of the student. It helps the student to adjust in any given environment rather than the ability to fit in a definite condition. Waldorf system helps in the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual development of the students. Waldorf learning starts at preschool and ends with twelfth grades.
Highlights of Waldorf teaching:
- Subjects are to be experienced and not taught and arts are included in the subjects being taught
- Waldorf teacher and her class collaboration will be there for seven years (it’s a rule)
- Academics and arts are integrated to enable development of the student in all sphere
- Eurhythmy is a unique approach of Waldorf curricula and is an integral part of it
- It’s a Child-centered and teacher-guided approach
Lastly, before finalizing any school make sure that the school is well-managed and fiscally sound.