Preschool learning approaches explained
19 November 2013
Preschools in Hong Kong have different educational approaches. Visit a few before deciding which approach is best suited to your child’s temperament and interests.
Play is the most natural way for young children to learn. Learning involves long, uninterrupted periods of open-ended play where children follow their own interests. They are encouraged to initiate activities and be self-directed with the teachers’ support. When children play, they are also exploring and enhancing their ability to tackle problems, be independent, socialize, develop knowledge and self-esteem, develop fine and gross motor skills, and develop skills in language, literacy, maths and science.
The Project Approach is a hands-on, interactive style of education that builds on children’s natural curiosity, enabling them to interact, question, connect and problem-solve, communicate and reflect. It focuses on active participation in real learning based on children’s interests and abilities. Projects do not constitute the whole curriculum but are used in conjunction with more traditional teaching methods.
An education approach develop by Italian Maria Montessori in the early 1900s that cultivates a child’s own natural desire to learn and absorb information. Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. The curriculum is broad-based and covers exercises of practical life, sensorial materials, language, mathematics, cultural studies, sciences, and development of social behavior and physical activity. Classrooms provide a prepared environment where everything children come in contact with facilitates and maximizes independent learning and exploration.
Waldorf, or Steiner, education is a humanistic approach to education based on the philosophy of Austrian Rudolf Steiner. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic and conceptual elements. The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, developing both creative and analytical thinking. In early childhood, learning is largely experiential, imitative and sensory, with an emphasis on learning through practical activities.
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It was started by the villagers around Reggio Emilia in Italy after WWII, who created a self-guided curriculum guides by the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children. Parents are a vital component of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. They are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children.
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