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   As a parent, the educational approaches and influences used in daycare and preschool settings can be overwhelming to say the least. We at the Learningden want you to understand what each type of philosophy is and how each center will have a different approach in educating your child. Here is a brief description and history about each of the three most closely connected European philosophies.

Reggio Emilia



   These are three progressive approaches to early childhood education that are growing in influence in North America and have many points in common. The information in the links above provide a brief comparative introduction and highlight several key areas of similarities and diffreneces. All three approaches represent an explicit idealism and turn away from war and violence toward peace and reconstruction. They are built on coherent visions of how to improve human society by helping children realize their full potential as intelligent, creative, whole persons. In each approach, children are viewed as active authors of their own development; strongly influenced by natural, dynamic, self-righting forces within themselves, opening the way toward growth and learning. Teachers depend on carefully prepared, aesthetically pleasing environments that serve as a pedagogical tool and provide strong messages about the curriculum and about respect for children. Partnering with parents is highly valued in all three approaches, and children are evaluated by means other than traditional tests and grades. Underlying the three approaches are variant views of the nature of young children's needs, interests, and modes of learning that lead to contrasts in the ways that teachers interact with children in the classroom, frame and structure learning experiences for children, and follow the children through observation/documentation.

Europe has been a rich source of many influential educational ideas. In elementary and early childhood education, three of the best-known approaches with European origins are Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia. All three are seen as strong educational alternatives to traditional education and as sources of inspiration for progressive educational reform. Schools and classrooms do not necessarily look alike just because they derive from the same philosophy. To understand a specific institution, one must observe its environments and teacher-child interactions, read its documents, interview staff, and talk to past and present parents and their children.