When searching for schools that include early childhood and elementary grades, you may come across programs identified as Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf, three progressive approaches to early education that originated in Europe. San Diego has a wide variety of schools based upon each of these programs. As you begin learning more and visiting area schools, you will find many similarities among the three and also marked differences. Below are brief overviews of these educational approaches.
Montessori schools are based upon the work of Italian educator Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. The underlying philosophy of these schools is that children are individual learners and teachers are facilitators or guides. Students work at their own pace in classrooms that are organized around hands-on, self-directed, developmentally tailored projects and toys. Classrooms are often multi-age and can span two- or three-year age ranges. Montessori programs strive to develop self-motivated, curious, and self-disciplined children.
For a more in-depth look at these three approaches, Carolyn Pope Edwards at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln has written an article for Early Childhood Research and Practice titled, “Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia.”
Thanks to Private School News by Robert Kennedy on About.com for the pointer to this article.