How do you choose what educational philosophy is right for your child?
If you are a parent choosing the best preschool for your young child can be challenging. Understanding the educational philosophy embraced by the preschool might help you make your choice more easily. Two common philosophies you will see embraced by Hong Kong preschools and kindergartens are:
- the Reggio Emilia approach
How do these philosophies compare?
The Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches to early-childhood education may appear to be similar. They both are child-centred and nurture play. However, there are specific differences as they follow different methodologies.
These two educational approaches are world renowned as quality early years frameworks that set children up with the skills and attributes they need to be successful lifelong learners. Children that have benefited from either of these approaches will be confident, resilient communicators. These attributes in particular support students in successfully navigating Hong Kong’s primary school application process.
Both the Reggio Emilia approach and Montessori originate from Italy and they seek to educate the whole child by focusing on their character, their interests and building citizens who contribute to the world positively.
You will not see testing or grading of young children in either the Reggio Emilia approach or at Montessori schools. Rather, teachers record their constant observations of each student creating thorough documentation aligned with developmental milestones. This documentation assists teachers in tracking each individual student’s growth, success and participation in their learning as well as assisting the teacher in planning future learning.
Despite the absence of formal testing, both approaches equip children with the necessary foundational skills of literacy and numeracy required for entry into primary school in Hong Kong. Having graduated from preschool, the personal and social skills nurtured by either approach provide a strong foundation for all future learning.
The Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (UK) provides an accreditation scheme for Montessori schools. MEAB’s mission is to acknowledge and support good Montessori practice, look out for this accreditation when looking at Montessori schools. The Reggio Emilia Approach has no equivalent accreditation.
Montessori has a set curriculum and set tools they use to support the delivery of this curriculum. The Montessori education system will focus on the areas of Mathematics, Language, Practical Skills, Cultural Studies and Sensory learning. Montessori classes are often mixed ages and the teachers have specific Montessori qualifications.
The Reggio Emilia approach has no set curriculum and is often adapted to link in with curriculum frameworks from around the world such as the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), or the International Baccalaureate (IB). The Reggio Emilia approach states the environment is the third-teacher and this allows for an always-evolving classroom space where student interests are fostered and they guide the course of the learning. Teachers set up the learning environment to foster discovery, exploration and hands-on learning. In a Reggio Emilia based school, you should see children’s artwork, mark-making, and objects displayed around the classroom. The learning journey of each child is always visible.
So what do you choose for your child?
As with any big decision, it is important to do your homework and research and come to your own conclusion as to what is right for your child. We encourage you to visit various school campuses to meet the teachers and learn more about what approach will be best for your child.
Avendale embraces the Reggio Emilia approach as it allows more flexibility to fulfil each child’s needs. Our curriculum incorporates aspects of the EYFS and Hong Kong Kindergarten Education curriculum. Book a tour to find out more!