Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, Play-Based – you may have heard of these different daycare and preschool philosophies and aren’t sure what they all mean or what is right for your child. There is no “right answer” to this question, and it can be overwhelming to navigate the differences.
To help you feel empowered to make the right choice for your child and family, we’ve outlined some of the different early childhood philosophies, and in each, highlight some ideas that spoke to us while creating Vivvi’s inquiry-based early learning approach.
As you read through, think about what resonates with you, your family as a whole, and who you think your child is as a learner, and remember to ultimately trust your gut. You know your child best!
Early Childhood Philosophies: Reggio vs Montessori vs Waldorf
Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education views young children as curious individuals that have amazing and powerful potential to learn from their environment and all that surrounds them. In essence, it observes what a child knows, what they are curious about and what concepts challenge them.
The Reggio Emilia approach believes that educational, psychological, and sociological influences are important factors to consider in understanding children and working to stimulate learning in appropriate ways. Reggio schools encourage their teachers to use these observations to guide developmentally appropriate ways for children to expand their academic and social knowledge.
- Reggio has a project-based approach, where curriculum topics are driven by the interest of the students.
- The environment is considered to be the “third teacher”
- Community is an integral part of the school experience
Reggio’s Influence on Vivvi’s Early Learning Program
- Like Reggio schools, the foundation of Vivvi’s approach is built on supporting children’s profound potential and curiosity about the world around them. Children at Vivvi experience both child and teacher-initiated activities every day with their ideas and questions valued and respected. Through ever-changing thematic units, our faculty supports children’s curiosity and aligns their work with key learning milestones. The Vivvi learning model, in this way, nurtures each child’s potential by guiding deeper thinking and awareness through curiosity and play.
- Reggios’ “third teacher” perspective was on our minds when we began to design our environment. Our campuses are designed so that our spaces engage young learners with simplicity and interaction.
- Like Reggio schools, parents and caregivers are respected and valued with our dedicated School Experience Coordinators working with parents to ensure that their entire family’s needs are being met.
Developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1906, the Montessori Method is a form of education that is child-centered. Typically, this early childhood philosophy involves child-led activities in classrooms of varying ages. As part of the Montessori approach, teachers are encouraged to promote independence among young children and cultivate the child’s natural desire to learn.
The Montessori method believes that children learn best by doing. Therefore, providing direction yet allowing children to take the initiative on completing tasks, a child learns about concentration, determination, and purpose.
- There is a focus on meeting each child’s developmental needs in all areas of development
- Hands-on learning with open-ended materials that support all learners, so each child has the opportunity to work and develop to their potential
Montessori’s influence on Vivvi’s Early Learning Program
- Like Montessori, Vivvi values the whole child. Each month, teachers map out child-inspired thematic webs that are developmentally targeted based on Vivvi’s development domains. This creates a rich and unique curriculum that supports their students’ development with an understanding that each child’s journey is unique.
- The Vivvi learning model fosters the joy of learning through hands-on experiences with opportunities for each child to use the materials as they choose. Since there is no “wrong way” to use our materials, children are instilled with confidence to explore and expand their horizons to the fullest.
Waldorf Education Model
The Waldorf philosophy, which began with the founding of the first Waldorf school in 1919, is based on the ideas of Austrian educator, Rudolf Steiner. The underlying principle of the Waldorf program is a dependable routine. It focuses on bringing age-appropriate activities and learning methods to each stage of early childhood development.
The Waldorf approach emphasizes that human beings consist of three things: mind, body, and spirit. This early learning model approaches education and academic development from a holistic and compassionate perspective.
- Emphasis is on creativity, imagination, and disconnecting from technology
- Oral language is a hallmark of this philosophy
Waldorf’s Influence on the Vivvi Inquiry Model
- Like the Waldorf philosophy, Vivvi understands that adults can create powerful early learning opportunities through oral language experiences. At Vivvi, our trained educators do this by using inquiry questions throughout the day. Open-ended in nature, we see inquiry questioning techniques as a wonderful opportunity for building a foundation of success in language expression and early literacy. For example, starting a conversation with phrases such as “Tell me about …,” “What do you think about …” and “How can we …” rather than asking questions that elicit a “yes” or “no” response encourages children to express their thoughts and feelings.
- In our screen-free school, activities and projects emphasize children using their imagination and creativity to learn. The “process”, not the “end product”, is celebrated at Vivvi like at a Waldorf school for creating projects that build on children’s knowledge about the world around them.
Explore Vivvi’s Early Learning Center
The Vivvi Learning Model provides children with the skills and concepts they need in preparation for Kindergarten and the later years. Our early childhood educators draw inspiration from each of the early childhood philosophies mentioned above to create a curriculum that is focused on nurturing the interests that your child is naturally curious about.
As a team, we also know the importance of parent input because parents know their children best. Our team will happily collaborate with you to make sure that your child is getting the best support they can during early childhood development. Interested in hearing more about Vivvi’s early learning center based in NYC? Get in touch with our team today and we’ll be happy to organize a tour of our New York campuses. As partners in the early education journey, we look forward to you learning about the Vivvi family.