Children’s brains develop rapidly during the first few years of their lives, which means the education they receive during this period is of utmost importance. Most formal education systems share the goal of providing children with strong intellectual foundations, but the methods by which they attempt to meet this goal can be quite different. Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Constructivism are three preschool education methods that tend to yield robust results.
Reggio Emilia education is designed to create a community of learners who work together to conduct projects and solve problems. Childhood education is viewed as a journey in progress, so the system strongly emphasizes documenting learning as it happens. The system also places high value on the social aspect of learning, so it nurtures and celebrates the relationships between children and their peers, teachers, and families.
Montessori schools are based on the philosophy that children are natural learners who thrive when they use all their senses to gather information about their surroundings. The role of a Montessori teacher is to lead children in their learning activities rather than providing one-sided instruction. Classroom materials are designed so that they cannot be used incorrectly, and children are encouraged to collaborate with and learn from one another.
Constructivist preschools share some characteristics with Montessori schools in that they are designed to help children learn by doing. However, classroom time is somewhat more strictly regimented in constructivist settings because these routines are thought to be comforting to children. Classrooms also contain learning tools that can be used incorrectly, since the constructivist theory of learning places more importance on learning through trial and error.
Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Constructivism are all increasing in popularity, but not all schools that claim to follow these methods are staffed by people who have obtained proper certification. If you are contemplating sending your children to a school that uses one of these approaches, then ask about the staff members’ training backgrounds. This will help you determine if the school will deliver the educational approach it endorses.