At Child Care Point we provide training and materials to teachers in 7 main learning methods described bellow and support unique teaching approaches and practices.
Montessori is a child-directed approach that originated with Italian pediatrician/psychiatrist Maria Montessori and emphasizes the development of the whole child. Classrooms are of mixed ages, which helps to foster peer learning. Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace, with the goal of establishing independence, self-discipline and self-esteem. Teachers carefully prepare the environment with open shelving and specialized educational materials, including many wooden materials, math aids, beads and practical life items that are accessible to the children, such as small brooms, real coffee bean grinders, and zipper and lacing boards. In Montessori schools, children are given ample time to “work” individually at their own pace, and it's common to see children of all ages intensely focused on their chosen project at a tiny table or mat just for them.
Play-based learning is, essentially, to learn while at play. Although the exact definition of play continues to be an area of debate in research, including what activities can be counted as play, play-based learning is distinct from the broader concept of play. Learning is not necessary for an activity to be perceived as play but remains fundamental to the definition of play-based learning. Within studies that have examined the benefits of play-based learning, two different types of play have been the primary focus: free play, which is directed by the children themselves, and guided play, which is play that has some level of teacher guidance or involvement.
Waldorf education is based on the ideas of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Waldorf education emphasizes nurturing the whole child by engaging the five senses in experiential, hands-on and artistic learning experiences. A teacher usually stays with the same group of children for several years. Free play with natural materials such as wood, leaves, shells, felt dolls and silk scarves is considered critical for fostering children’s imagination, and the collective, or group play, is emphasized. Waldorf schools are known for their strong environmental and outdoor emphasis, and children are discouraged from playing with synthetic or electronic toys. Waldorf preschools and kindergartens emphasize creativity and imagination over academics.
Reggio Emilia is a child-directed approach that views children as active participants in the learning process. Originating in Italy, Reggio facilitates choice, problem solving, communication and relationships. The teacher’s role is to be a co-constructor of knowledge by building on a child’s ideas to help the child create new knowledge. The environment often emphasizes plant life, kitchens open to view, and photographs and detailed documentation of the children’s work. Parents are a vital component of this approach, and principles can also be incorporated at home.
STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is a term often used in reference to science education. Based on research suggesting that it is important for students to be exposed to science at young ages, STEM-focused preschools seek to engage young children in scientific exploration by applying an inquiry-based approach to experiential activities, such as playing with building blocks. Children may be given materials and invited to “experiment.” The teacher may introduce relevant challenges, such as building the tallest possible structure. Activities are followed by discussion, during which students are encouraged to share their questions, observations, designs and conclusions. STEM-based programs integrate science exploration into daily activities, such as gardening and outdoor play.
HighScope is a research-based curriculum that uses “active participatory learning” to help children build language and cognitive skills. Interactions between teacher and child are used to share control of the child’s learning and support children’s play. The classroom is designed for specific types of play and learning, and includes academic areas, such as writing and reading centers. The daily routine includes “play-do-review” (i.e., planning time, work time, recall time), which is a unique feature of the HighScope approach. HighScope also emphasizes monitoring a child’s progress.
The concept of outdoor preschool has been growing in popularity since emerging in the 1950s in Sweden and Denmark. These schools are generally child-directed, encouraging children to explore freely, follow their own impulses and connect to the natural world. Students in an outdoor learning environment can expect a lot of hands-on, experiential learning. The benefits of such an approach are thought to promote imaginative play and creativity, as well as strength, balance and good health. There are a variety of options to consider in this area, from total outdoor immersion to a regular exposure the outdoors.
As the term indicates, the class is conducted partly or entirely in a foreign language. Because children are more adept at learning foreign languages at this age, the teacher will speak in the foreign language and rarely translate into English. Programs do expose students to other languages through song, stories and other activities among their regular daily activities.
In an inclusive preschool setting, children who are developing typically learn side by side with children who have developmental delays or learning disabilities. Research indicates that children with special needs are capable of greater progress in an inclusive environment, and that typically developing students also benefit.
In a bilingual preschool, instructors conduct activities in a second language either mixed with the first language or as complete immersion throughout the whole school day. The goal is to expose young learners to a new language they can become proficient in and use later in life.