What works best?

Young children are an important part of any society, and ensuring their needs are met is a noble goal. The preschool years set the tone for a lifetime of learning, so considering the different approaches to teaching and learning for this age group is crucial. Most preschool programs are evidence-based, meaning their effectiveness has been studied, but there is a wide variation between philosophies.

Four Approaches to Preschool Learning


HighScope is a play-based approach to preschool activity which caters to the constructivist view of learning. In a HighScope environment, children are supported as they construct their own understanding of the world around them. Teachers in this type of program set up the environment for problem-solving and observe children as they learn. They also interact with, but do not interrupt, children as they play.


The Waldorf style of preschool is a form of experiential education, with the primary focus being on play and practical tasks. Waldorf schools are known for their emphasis on the arts, both visual and performing, and for their use of natural materials, such as wood and silk. There is also a strong element of spirituality in Waldorf education, although it is not associated with any particular religion or doctrine.


The Montessori method of preschool features self-correcting learning materials, meaning that they can only be used one way. This aspect ensures that children do not learn the wrong lesson when using materials on their own. Other Montessori features include multi-age classrooms, sensory experiences, learning by doing, and exercises in practical life. Also, teachers must undergo specific Montessori training programs.

The Reggio Emilia Method

The Reggio Emilia approach to preschool is based on collaboration, cooperation, and co-construction of knowledge. The social element of learning is emphasized in a Reggio Emilia-based preschool, and the schools themselves are beautiful places that showcase the children’s works of art. Teachers using this approach strive to view each child as a competent learner and as part of a learning community, as the term co-construction of knowledge suggests.