Pre-elementary

An informative briefing on private preschools. We'll provide information on early childhood education approaches from Montessori to Reggio Emilia, testing and assessments for preschool admission and advice on finding the right school for your child.
View the most popular articles in Pre-elementary:
Updated March 01, 2016 |
5 Facts About Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is an approach to early childhood education which has gained popularity throughout the western world.

Reggio Emilia is an approach to early childhood education which originated in Italy after World War II. While not as widely known as the Montessori and Waldorf methods, Reggio Emilia has attracted a small but extremely loyal following in the United States. You will not find many schools styled Reggio Emilia as you will with Montessori or Waldorf schools, for instance. What you will find are schools which draw heavily on Reggio Emilia ideas and philosophy. They often refer to themselves as Reggio Emilia-inspired schools.

The foundation of the Reggio Emilia approach can be found in the movement's principles.

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore;
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

What then is Reggio Emilia? Here are five facts about it. There's much more to Reggio Emilia, of course, but this will give you an idea of what it is all about.

It is strictly an early childhood education approach.

Reggio Emilia values "the potential of all children to think, learn, and construct knowledge." Like Montessori Reggio Emilia is a progressive, child-centered approach to education. The idea is that the child must be free to discover and to learn for himself. Reggio Emilia does not go any further than the early childhood years. It focuses on toddlers and preschool children.

It is not

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Updated April 05, 2016 |
5 Clues That It Might Not  Really Be Montessori School
Of the approximately 4,000 Montessori schools in the U.S. only 1,100 schools are members of the American Montessori Society. Does this matter? What else should you look for to determine if a Montessori school is the real thing?
Dr. Maria Montessori founded her Casa de Bambini in a poor neighborhood of Rome, Italy in 1906. She blazed new trails in early education by believing in the innate goodness of children, by encouraging children to be curious and to explore and by creating a teaching environment which followed the child.
 
Dr. Montessori's experiments and research ultimately produced a worldwide movement. Over 100 years later her findings and research have stood the test of time and have been validated by modern analysis and investigation. In the United States Montessori schools multiplied like rabbits from the 1960's and onwards. Unlike Dr. Montessori's schools which served poor children, most Montessori schools in North America educate children from the middle classes. Indeed the Montessori approach has been used with children in all kinds of situations. It is very adaptable to the needs of a wide range of children.
 
Dr. Montessori never trademarked the name Montessori nor did she claim any patents on her methodology. The result is that there are many Montessori schools out there claiming to be the real thing.  Some schools may include elements of Dr. Montessori's methods and philosophy in their teaching.  Other schools quietly sublimate the parts of Dr. Montessori's thinking which aren't perhaps appropriate in their setting. In short, there almost as many flavors of Montessori as there are schools. Not a bad thing in itself, but as always, do your due diligence. Caveat emptor!
 
Here are five things you should look for when vetting a school which purports to
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Updated March 07, 2015 |
Froebel, Montessori and Steiner: Champions of Children
Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner were trail blazers in early education.
In the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner were trail blazers in early education. Their ideas and philosophies shaped early childhood education as we know it in the 21st century. Who were these people?
 
Freidrich Froebel
 
Freidrich Froebel (1782-1852) invented kindergarten which literally means a child's garden. Froebel wanted children to interact with their surroundings. Interacting with nature was central to his philosophy of education. He believed that interacting with nature would lead children in a closer examination of how things work. Froebel was influenced by the Swiss pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) whose methods and approach to education in turn shaped a young Albert Einstein when he attended the local school in Aarau. Today few people with the exception of  educators or trivia buffs know who Froebel is even though his influence in early childhood education was profound.
From left to right:  Friedrich Froebel; Dr. Maria Montessori; Rudolf Steiner

One of the features of Froebel's approach to teaching children was the use of gifts. He developed five gifts which were to be given to the child in ascending order. The gifts were designed to teach awareness of shapes, spatial relationships and many more concepts to even the youngest child.
 
Dr. Maria Montessori
 
Italian physician and pedagogue Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) dared to take on the enormous challenge of educating poor, inner-city children in the slums of
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