The title “Montessori” is well-known, but is it always the right choice for your child’s preschool education? Another way to ask this: is your child like everybody else’s child? The answer is no, obviously, so there are other options for a preschooler to learn, and one of those options is the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, to which we at Greentree Childcare subscribe.
Children are natural explorers, and their view of the world is usually developed during the pre-school years of upbringing. They are, by nature, curious, capable, and competent thinkers. This is the basis for the Reggio Emilia philosophy of instruction. The belief that there isn’t one way to learn, but rather numerous ways of self-expression and learning. Children have their own way of making sense of the world, and they need to have a lot of opportunities for free play to express themselves. This may include such things as:
- Expressing emotion
So, parents may want to know the difference between Reggio Emilia and Montessori ways of instruction. If you were to look at the two philosophies in a Venn diagram, you would find several common ideas, with child-centered instruction being the main similarity. However, some of the key differences are:
- Focus on age – Reggio Emilia is focused on preschool-aged children, whereas Montessori extends to children through middle school.
- Educational materials – while Montessori has distinct materials that are used to gauge instructional successes, Reggio Emilia uses play as a medium to learn and open-ended learning led by curiosity, which are natural extensions of the way kids learn.
- Curriculum – Montessori is structured, while Reggio Emilia is emergent (that is, it accounts for the children’s needs, strengths, and interests). It is less formal and planned for based on daily student progress, allowing flexibility in meeting student needs.
The environment in which children learn is also a part of the instruction. It is sometimes referred to as the “third teacher” (parents being the “first teacher,” and the teachers at preschool being the “second teacher). Classroom design elements showcase the natural light, open spaces, as many wooden toys and furniture as possible, and the work of the children displayed prominently.
Another important part of Reggio Emilia philosophy is learning though mistakes. Children should not be shunned or chastised for making mistakes, as it is a natural part of learning (not just in the classroom, but in life as well). Mistakes should be celebrated as an active and essential part of the learning process.
Granted, the Reggio Emilia approach is not ideal for all children, just as Montessori is not, but we at Greentree Childcare feel that it is the approach that is needed to help develop a child with an inquisitive mind that will grow and lead a successful life – a goal of all parents.