BCB Expert: Preschool Education Philosophies

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Confused by the millions of different philosophies of education out there for preschool? We’ve asked Laura Gradman, BCB’s Resident Preschool Expert, and Chicago Preschool Pro, to make sense of it all…

father walking little daughter with backpack to school or daycare

By: Laura Gradman, BCB Expert

One of the most important aspects of my job as a school consultant is helping clients figure out their philosophies of education.  A philosophy of education lets families know what their child’s school day and educational environment will look like.  It gives insight into how they will be encouraged to interact with friends and problem solve.  And while those without an education background may find this question stumps them at first, the philosophies are actually easier to relate to than people realize.  As you begin your research, keep in mind that many schools subscribe to more than one philosophy.   See below for a cheat sheet of terminology you’ll see as you navigate your school search.

Progressive: A progressive school believes that school is part of life.  Learners are active participants and teachers are facilitators.  There is a shared decision-making process in which parents serve as resources.  In the lower grades, learning happens through play (play-based learning).  The various disciplines are integrated and assessment takes many forms.  In a progressive environment, there is an emphasis on entrepreneurship and social responsibility.

Reggio Emilia: The main principles of the Reggio Emilia approach are respect, responsibility and community.  Learning happens through exploration and discovery and the interests of children affect curriculum.  Teachers, parents and the environment are considered the three teachers.  This philosophy teaches that children learn through touching, moving, listening and observing.

Montessori: In the Montessori philosophy there is an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s development.  You will see mixed age classrooms and children working in blocks of time.  Learning materials are deliberately placed around the room and children have freedom to choose within their prepared environment.  Human tendencies are thought to drive behaviors and education should respond to and facilitate their expression.

Waldorf: The Waldorf philosophy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning.  There is a holistic integration of intellectual, practical and artistic development.  In early childhood, creative play is emphasized.  As children grow, the emphasis is on artistic and social capabilities, then ultimately on critical reasoning and empathic understanding.

Traditional: A traditional school believes that school is preparation for life.  Learners take a more passive role and teachers are the authority figures.  The goal for learning is mastery in the core subjects of math, reading, writing, science and social studies.  Administrators are the main decision makers.  Test results drive curriculum, which tends to be focused on recall and memory.

CHICAGO:  Join us for three programs to help you with the preschool puzzle!  

Monday, September 12, 2016: ABCs and 123s of Preschool Where to start? Preschool Expert Laura Gradman will cover all of the basics and what to think about when you start your preschool search. Ticket price includes admission to our BCBest in Childcare, Preschool and Beyond on September 17th.

Saturday, September 17, 2016: BCBest in Childcare, Preschool and Beyond Meet with 50+ preschools and service providers to find the best options for your family! VIPs, your ticket is free with a special VIP code!

Monday, September, 19, 2016: ABCs and 123s of Preschool – School Options and ReadinessOur panel will cover what to expect specifically from the private school application process, the CPS process, and signs & signals your child is ready for school. Ticket price includes admission to our BCBest in Childcare, Preschool and Beyond on September 17th.