Recently my 26 month old daughters started going to play school. Before finalising the school, I had to visit a number of schools. During these visit discussions, a lot of terminologies were thrown my way, few of which were quiet new to me. These included the Play school philosophies. While some methods & philosophies like Montessori & Play Way method are more common & heard of in India, there are some methods which are comparatively new & lesser know, adopted from the west. So let us try to understand what these methods & philosophies are.
This method developed by Educator Maria Montessori believes in child-lead learning while teachers play the role of gently guiding the students. It aims towards building child’s practical life skills, senses & character. Montessori believes in treating each child as an individual & letting each child grow & learn at their own pace. It believes that progress of a child should not be measured by comparing it to other kid’s progress but with past learning of the student himself.
Montessori method focuses on structured learning environment. It has a very carefully setup shelf system which is generally based on a theme. Even skills like reading, writing & subjects like maths, geography etc are taught using these themes.
Play Way / Play Based Method
As the name suggests this method is more play based & believes that children learn best through play. Children are given a mix of structured as well as unstructured play time & are encouraged to choose what, when & with whom to play on heir own. They have a wide variety of age appropriate options to choose from. Even subjects like mathematics, reading etc are introduced through play.
Play Way is not a method or philosophy in itself, but is inspired from & a mix of different philosophies such as Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Methods and follows theme based learning. These themes can be set by teachers or sometimes even initiated by children.
Reggio Emilia Method
Developed in Italy in the town of Reggio Emilia, this method focuses on project based learning. It aims at building a learning environment that builds curiosity, creativity & interest for group interaction in the child. The curriculum, topics & discussions are based on what child is interested in. Thus the students suggest the topic & the teacher builds the lesson plan around it enabling more hands-on & in-depth learning.
This method helps children in developing problem solving, team work & many other important life skills. Although not a very widely used method for schools, a lot of Homeschooling parents prefer adopting Reggio Emilia method as it allows them to let their child learn basis his / her individual interest & preference.
Waldorf philosophy is also a play based method that provides a homely atmosphere to the students to learn. The environment is warm & friendly & learning takes place through mediums like wooden toys & natural material, thus avoiding technological aids such as screens, audio visual aids, computers etc. This system doesn’t believe in homework, grading system & comparison between students, tests or even desk sitting arrangement.
This method focuses on stimulating the body, soul, spirit & imagination of the children. It believes in creating harmony with the nature & that the children learn from nature.
The focus of pre schools following academic method is to prepare children to get into primary schools. Traditionally most Indian pre schools till almost a decade back used to follow Academic approach. In a lot of smaller towns still most pre schools are more focused on academics. The approach is traditional using paper pen technique. Maths & alphabets are taught using worksheets & in most cases kids are made to rote learn these things.
Other lesser known Methods
Other methods like High scope method in which children learn actively by having hands-on experiences with their surroundings, and learning is supported through consistent daily routines and well-organized classrooms, Bank Street approach which has emphasis on learning through multiple perspectives, both in the classroom setting and in the natural world, Parent co-ops where parents are actively involved with their little one’s education on a daily basis and work closely with the classroom teachers also exist.
Which method works best for you totally depends on what you want for your child when it comes to education, but being informed is really important. So whichever school you end up choosing, make sure you know their education philosophy, read about it & make sure your home activities are in line with them too.
If you are planning to enroll your baby in a preschool then you have to know what is the right age for your baby to join preschool and what to look for while choosing the right preschool.