Preschool Philosophy Guide for New Parents

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During admission, new parents are busy looking up reliable preschools to send their precious ones to. While we may think that a preschool is just a stepping stone to higher education, it has a lot more importance than we can imagine. 

Did you know that the human brain develops most rapidly from birth up to 5 years? Needless to say, it makes the preschool years a crucial part of our children’s education. 

While you may be getting various opinions and views from fellow parents, educationists or facilitators, before you zero down on one preschool, it’s always wise to get your homework done. Here’s a list of the various preschool philosophies we created based on the facilitators who have shared their inputs with us so that as parents, you can make an informed decision.

A Montessori approach is a play-based approach developed by Maria Montessori consisting of Montessori toys that are in a way self-corrective. Children learn and correct themselves on their own at their own pace, along with teachers as their guides in this play-way method. Children who enjoy quiet environments and show signs of inclining towards self-learning and being independent are the ones for whom this is the best suitable philosophy. Also, what makes this philosophy unique is that it allows the child to learn at their own pace, which works wonders for children with special needs as well.

While you may be getting various opinions and views from fellow parents, educationists or facilitators, before you zero down on one preschool, it’s always wise to get your homework done. Here’s a list of the various preschool philosophies we created based on the facilitators who have shared their inputs with us so that as parents, you can make an informed decision.

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Montessori 

“The Montessori approach is a play-based approach developed by Maria Montessori consisting of Montessori toys that are in a way self-corrective. Children learn and correct themselves on their own at their own pace, along with teachers as their guides in this play-way method. Children who enjoy quiet environments and show signs of inclining towards self-learning and being independent are the ones for whom this is the best suitable philosophy. 

Also, what makes this philosophy unique is that it allows the child to learn at their own pace, which works wonders for children with special needs as well.

Reggio Emilia

Another approach where children take the lead in learning; Reggio Emilia schools were developed by the people of Reggio Emilia (Italy). The main characteristic of this philosophy is the documentation that Reggio schools follow. Every play, project, task, and progress made by a child is photographed and documented, which not only helps a child’s progress increase but also helps children see their action as meaningful.

This approach is an enquiry based one wherein the facilitator doesn’t answer the child’s queries but creates such an environment that the child learns to explore and tries to find the answers. The facilitator guides the child through this manipulative, child-friendly and child-led environment. In fact, this philosophy also believes in the saving of the environment and recycling, which indeed teaches every child the worth of our mother nature. The classroom environment is like the third teacher. 

“Having myself being an ex-facilitator at Serra International Preschool (Colaba) – a Reggio-based preschool, I personally see this approach as a very helpful and progressive one with regard to a child’s early years. Teachers here are actually facilitators who ease and facilitate learning rather than being preachers. We, as facilitators, would document and photograph every inquiry and the exact words used by the child during play and projects. As a facilitator, our image of the child is that of a curious and competent individual who learns through a hundred languages. Thus, the usage of media and various other learning resources is an integral part of Reggio Emilia’s philosophy,” adds Bhumika, a Mumbai-based Primary & Pre-Primary Teacher, and a Baby-Bonding Specialist.

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Waldorf

This philosophy is based more on a long-term, sustainable and trust-building model. Based on the principles by the Austrian educator Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf works on the principle of a ‘dependable routine’. It is usually led by a teacher or a facilitator who continues being the common facilitator for a few years when they’re most impressionable. 

“The impact may seem to be slow and sometimes new teachers and parents think the outcome hasn’t come at all. But that’s not true. It’s like planting a seed and then giving it enough time to break through the surface of the ground and rise above as a beautiful nourished plant. One needs to patiently keep watering the seed even though you can’t see the shoot yet,” says Priyam Dutta, Co-founder and an on-field volunteer teacher at YIF, a non-profit organization based out of Mumbai.

She further explains, “Similarly, in my experience, I have seen children shift instantly or sometimes take a year or two, but the change is visible. Our children are more inclusive; they don’t differentiate. They work with love and compassion. They are growing up to be responsible adults as they see individuals around them do that from a young age. They are more socially aware of the community, and they are able enough to find solutions to their own problems. They are becoming more emotionally stable and can hold space for the younger ones as well. This has happened over four years of Waldorf-inspired curriculum at our NGO YIF. I love the fact that as teachers, we get to know our children better to be able to be better teachers for them. It’s not about us; it’s about them.”

Forest School

This is a unique form of learning that’s based similar to Tagore’s philosophy of Naturalism, explains Chanda Sahu, Founder of Wiz Kids International, a Mumbai based preschool. It is play-based, child-centric learning that happens in a natural setting. Not only does it instil love and respect for nature, but it is also known to bring about important life skills such as empathy, resilience, self-awareness, a positive attitude, motivation and independence. The curriculum is designed by trained facilitators who hold these classrooms in a natural outdoor setting. 

Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Founded by Howard Gardner, a development psychologist, this learning philosophy is based on seven distinct bits of intelligence. This philosophy aims to challenge the notion that a single education system is a solution to all kinds of students. When each child is different, hence the learning and assessment should be different too. Hence, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences uses the best from different styles of learning, all embodied into one – Intrapersonal Visual-Spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Linguistic, and Logical-Mathematical. 

It is only after you have browsed through and researched various learning methods, be it Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Forest School, Montessori or Theory of Multiple Intelligences – will you be in a better position to make an informed decision for your little one. Remember, there’s no right or wrong because as a parent, you will always know what is best for your child. It’s just that being aware helps you and your child get the best of what life has to offer, starting with a preschool.

Tanya Munshi

Contributor: Tanya Munshi

Writing Mentor & Founder of The Lifestyle Portal.

References:

Choosing schools

Forest school philosophy

Forest school philosophy

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