Preschools have two basic types of teaching methods: teacher-centred or child-centred. All preschools use a theoretical foundation, and all curriculum is based upon this foundation. Lessons and activities are all created according to this foundation. Different curriculum approaches work with different children. It is important to address the needs and skills of the child when picking a preschool.
Proponents of play-based preschool curricula believe that children learn best through playing and choosing their own activities. Children are allowed to choose the activities that interest them, which will motivate them to try new things, learn new activities, build confidence and use their own creativity to learn new skills. The curriculum is age-appropriate, and a child develops at his or her own pace versus learning at the pace of other children or at the pace that the teacher dictates. This type of curriculum is more unstructured than teacher-directed play and active children who enjoy playing and socialising with other children, and who don't mind noisy play, will do well in this type of learning environment.
Montessori curriculum proponents believe that play is a child's work, and the curriculum is very child-centred. While the school focuses on academic learning, the goal of the learning is for it to happen naturally through real-life experiences at their own pace. Montessori education strives to allow children to make their own choices and do things for themselves. Building self-esteem and confidence by allowing children to do for themselves is a big goal of this type of curriculum. Children that are independent, like to play on their own, have ability to pay attention for a long time and to follow directions will do well in a Montessori classroom.
Another child-centred curriculum, Waldorf, focuses on predictable structure and routine. Students learn by predictability and routine, as this repetition gives children a sense of familiarity and comfort. Waldorf curriculum also focuses on educating the whole child, meaning the body, mind and spirit. Waldorf preschools attempt to make a homelike environment for their students, by using hands-on activities that promote teamwork and concentration. Waldorf education is great for children who are comfortable playing in groups, learn well through imitation and repetition and have active imaginations.
Reggio Emilia Preschool
Based on the belief that children are naturally curious and should be free to think and learn on their own, Reggio Emilia is also a child-centred curriculum. Curriculum is based on student interest and natural learning moments. For example, during a walk outside a student may comment on leaves, and the teacher will then make a lesson about leaves for the next day. Lessons can be taught for a small group or the whole classroom and can last for a day, a week or even all year. Reggio Emilia is a great curriculum for children who are creative, do well in a group setting, play well with other kids, enjoy art, drama or music and love hands-on learning activities.
One of the only teacher-directed approaches to preschool curriculum is the academic approach. It is a structured classroom environment, in which children who do well at following instructions and can sit still for long periods of time will do well. It is very structured and children in this type of setting should be able to follow directions and pay attention to longer lessons.
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