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The Differences Between Montessori, Reggio and Waldorf Learning Models

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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 philosophies, and in each, highlight some ideas that spoke to us while creating Vivvi’s Inquiry-Based 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! 

Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education views young children as individuals who are curious about their world and have the powerful potential to learn from all that surrounds them. Educational, psychological, and sociological influences are important factors to consider in understanding children and working to stimulate learning in appropriate ways.

Reggio Takeaways

  • 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 the Inquiry Model 

  • 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 individual 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.


The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. It’s a specific child-centred method of education that involves child-led activities (referred to as “work”), classrooms with children of varying ages and teachers who encourage independence among their pupils.

Montessori Takeaways: 

  • There is a focus on meeting each child’s developmental needs in all areas of development
  • Hands-on learning environment 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 the Vivvi Inquiry Model

  • 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 (link,). 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

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. 

Waldorf Takeaways

  • 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. 

To learn more on the different preschool/daycare philosophies, watch our video on whats right for your child.

The Vivvi Learning Model provides children with the skills and concepts they need in preparation for Kindergarten and the later years. We also know the importance of parent input because parents know their children best.  As partners in the early education journey, we look forward to getting to know your family!

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