Although all pre-schools aim to lay the foundation for kids to be better prepared for future education, they have slightly different approaches and techniques in teaching. All these have a great impact on the students’ mindset, thinking, social and cognitive development.
Getting to know the significant differences is vital before selecting the right pre-school for your child.
The Playway method is an activity-based teaching method, also considered to be invented by German educator Fredrich Froebel (1782-1852). Like the term itself, this approach is to emphasize teaching and learning through hands-on activities and a play-based curriculum.
Children are encouraged to actively get involved in a play-based learning environment, to understand different people around them, their surroundings and the outside world.
The key feature of this approach is to focus on the children’s academic, social, cognitive and physical development grounded on a milestone-based curriculum.
It’s a child-focused teaching method providing them with a more flexible way to cultivate interests, boost creativity, gain knowledge and skills at their own pace. Under this system, it allows children to follow each of their milestones so that they can pick up what they left before continuing to the next.
Through an immersive and enjoyable learning environment, children learn and accept new things consistently, which will build concentration and persistency.
Reggio Emilia method
This approach was initially developed by Loris Malaguzzi from Reggio Emilia, Italy, after World War II. In the 1990s, the Reggio Emilia organization was founded to spread this approach throughout the world.
Reggio Emilia teaching is also a student-focused and self-guided curriculum but the types of activities and core values differ from the Play-Way method.
The core of this philosophy aims to teach children to communicate and collaborate through arts, painting, writing, sculpting, drama, and more in an everyday living environment. Children are encouraged to learn how to exchange ideas, manage their emotions, and express how they feel in different situations. It makes it more enjoyable for children to understand their surroundings to develop social skills.
Waldorf method is another popular teaching approach developed by Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century after World War I.
The Waldorf philosophy promotes a broad curriculum for children to develop cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and artistic skills holistically.
This teaching method aims to lay the foundation for children to make learning a life-long journey. It’s a self-driven approach that supports children to explore and create through various hands-on activities and experiments.
Under this teaching philosophy, children are encouraged to learn from teachers and build a desire to explore every topic and deepen their understanding with creativity, and independent thinking. Teachers support children to spark an interest in all academic subjects through hands-on artistic activities rather than books.
The Montessori method, named after Dr Maria Montessori, emphasizes independence, collaboration, hands-on skills, and sensory development at the children’s own pace.
Under this method, children are encouraged to learn and explore through a student-driven learning environment to nurture their interests driven by natural curiosities.
“To put it simply, children have the freedom to choose what seems interesting to them, align with their personality. The purpose is to help children build independence and ignite a natural passion for their favourite subjects or activities, laying a solid foundation for life-long learning through exploration at their own pace,” mentions Ms Suria from the Hong Kong-based international pre-school and kindergarten, Tutor Time.
The Montessori philosophy also believes that every child is unique with different learning approaches. In Montessori classrooms, children are supported to design creatively with various aesthetic materials.
Another difference from other approaches is that Montessori teachers have a stronger bond with the children as they learn from the same teacher for all pre-school years.
Bank Street method
The Bank Street method was initially developed by Lucy Sprague Mitchell in New York City, to discover the best learning environment for children to grow. This approach is also one of the popular teaching methods adopted by pre-schools.
It’s a child-focused teaching method known as the developmental-interaction approach, promoting diverse teaching and learning. This method emphasizes a diversity of curriculum learning through task-based hands-on experience. Children are encouraged to participate in various activities such as building blocks, jigsaws, puzzles, dramatic play, lab work, and more.
The significant difference between the Bank Street method and the Play-Way method is that the former primarily focuses on solving a problem. Within the Bank Street approach, teachers pay attention to children’s personalities, interests, the pace of development, and unique potential.
It offers children valuable learning opportunities to understand better who they are and what makes them unique.