Preschool is a very important time in a child’s life. This is a period when your child gets his first taste of many years of education. Whether you choose to put your child in formal schooling or to do homeschooling, the approach or program your child takes on will have a huge effect on his attitude towards learning.
An approach that is growing in popularity is the progressive approach, one that veers away from the traditional approach characterized by extrinsic motivation such as grades to stimulate and recognize a child. Numerous progressive approaches have been developed over the years, and although these are all child-centered, their emphasis and focus in educating the child may differ from one another.
There is no single approach that is right for all children. The right approach to education and learning will depend on your child’s learning style and personality. For a lot of children, it might even mean a mix of different approaches, depending on the skills that the child need to learn.
Here are just four progressive preschool approaches that are being adopted by schools here in the Philippines.
The Montessori Approach The term ‘Montessori’ has been a familiar word for many here in the Philippines. Unfortunately, not all schools that freely associate themselves with this term are actually using the Montessori approach as espoused by its founder, Maria Montessori.
Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to become a physician and she founded the Montessori education way back in 1907. The Montessori approach is based on her observations that children can learn on their own. Hence, a school that uses this method will have an abundance of developmentally-appropriate materials and activities that the children can use to ‘work’ and learn independently.
Unfortunately, Dr. Maria Montessori did not apply for any trademark to her educational method, so any school may use the term Montessori without actually following her approach. There are organizations that promote the real Montessori approach and they provide training and learning materials for schools and teachers. However, because of the lack of any official trademark, there is no single Montessori association that accredits schools and teachers.
Here in the Philippines, some Montessori schools get accreditation from international Montessori organizations or they require their teachers to have internationally-recognized diplomas in Montessori teaching.
Here are few key characteristics of Montessori schools: - Self-directed learning – children learn on their own and at their own pace - Kinesthetic learning – there is movement in the way that children learn, whether it is with their whole bodies or just with their hands - Mixed age classes – since learning is self-directed and not based on a child’s age, there is no sense in grouping the children according to their age - Prepared environment – there are adequate materials that provide direct, hands-on learning for the students and these are placed strategically around the classroom so that children can move freely and select the work that captures their interest and attention
The Waldorf Approach The Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 and based it on a “developmental approach that addresses the needs of a growing child.” This educational approach uses an anthroposophical view, which is a spiritual philosophy, and aims to educate the whole child –- through the heart, the hands, and the head.
A Waldorf school puts emphasis not just on the usual academic subjects, but also on music, dance, literature, writing, and theater. These are not just taught, but experienced by the students. Hence, you would often see works of the students and they are given opportunities to explore, experience, and learn through various activities.
There are several Waldorf schools in the Philippines such as the Manila Waldorf School in Rizal, Kolisko Waldorf School in Quezon City, Acacia Waldorf School in Laguna, University of Batangas Waldorf School International, Sofia Waldorf School in Baguio, Gamot Cogon Institute in Iloilo, and Karawatan Waldorf School in Palawan. There are also several daycare and playhouse centers that use the Waldorf approach.
Here are few key characteristics of Waldorf schools: - Whole child education – balance of artistic, practical, and intellectual content with emphasis on social skills and spiritual values - Parent involvement – there is high participation and cooperation among parents and teachers and they manage and take responsibility of the school - Same-age classes – students are grouped according to age
The Reggio Emilia Approach Reggio Emilia is a city in Northern Italy where Loris Malaguzzi developed this progressive and cooperative early childhood educational approach. The Reggio Emilia approach is child-centered and uses the principle that children learn through interaction with their environment and the people around them. Hence, children are encouraged to communicate and the space around them is designed to encourage collaboration, exploration, and communication.
The Reggio Emilia approach is also known for its belief that children have ‘a hundred languages’. This refers to the various ways that children communicate their thoughts and ideas. Some of these languages are building, modeling, painting, inventing, drawing, discussing, sculpturing, playing pretend, playing instruments, making music, and many more. Play is part of learning with this approach, and emphasis is placed on hands-on learning.
A few schools in the Philippines that have a Reggio Emilia inspired approach are Glebe House Manila in Makati City, Reggio Children Preschool House in Rizal, and Brentwood Reggio Kids International School in Naga City.
Here are few key characteristics of schools that use the Reggio Emilia approach: - Teachers are observers – the teacher’s role is to observe so they may understand what the children are communicating, to collaborate so that they can provide more learning opportunities, and to document the children’s progress - Children are encouraged to communicate – the hundred languages aspect of this approach drives the children to communicate and interact in various ways - Project approach – children often take on projects that come from their own interests or ideas and that make use of various materials and media
The Bank Street Approach Also known as Developmental-Interaction approach, the Bank Street approach was developed by Lucy Sprague Mitchell in 1916. It puts emphasis on the emotional, physical, social, and intellectual aspects of children. Awareness of the whole child, how the child engages with the world, and the interests of the child are the driving factors of the activities and learning opportunities made available to the children in this approach.
A few schools in the Philippines that use a Bank Street inspired approach are Explorations Preschool in Mandaluyong City and Summit School in Makati City.
Here are a few key characteristics of schools that use a Bank Street approach: - Developmental-Interaction approach – focus on how the child develops and interacts - Mixed-age groups – focus is placed on the development of a child and not on age - Child-centered learning – children learn from play, social interaction, and creative exploration that are based on the children’s interests