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7 Most Famous Preschool Educational Philosophies

What is the best gift you can give to your children? Is it a preschool education? Better yet, is it a preschool in which an unique, one-on-one approach to learning is offered? Well, you'll be happy to know that preschools which incorporate either one or a combination of the following educational philosophies are, indeed, a great investment for your children's future, depending on what your children's specific needs are.

Here are the top 7 of the most famous and true preschool educational philosophies designed to meet your child's needs.

1. Montessori

This renowned philosophy emphasizes education on the basis of an orderly series of structured social and intellectual activities designed to help young children learn at their own pace. 
A 2011 study conducted by Robert Biswas-Diener of Portland State University has shown that children in a Montessori preschool are more poised and self-assured than their preschool counterparts because of the fact that there is more than one trained or certified teacher assigned to each classroom. Thus, greater flexibility can be experienced on the part of both the instructors and their pupils in a warm, nurturing learning environment. 


  • Montessori schools are international in scope; there are multiple teacher training centers and schools around the world to choose from, including those specifically designed to assist children with developmental disabilities.
  • Certified teachers are typically friendly and approachable, which allow students to become more comfortable with their own learning style.


  • Increasing demand for Montessori services hasn't always kept up with the current number of available resources needed to meet a particular country's educational goals. Therefore, long Montessori waiting lists have become the "new norm."
  • Some Montessori schools are costly, depending on location.

2. Waldorf

Known to protract the sense of childhood, the Waldorf educational philosophy focuses on minimizing student stress and, at the same time, maximizing each student's highest learning potential. 

The main goal of the Waldorf philosophy is to provide children with the foundation for becoming morally responsible individuals well into their adult lives. Basic preschool practical activities, free play, oral language development, and seasonal festivals are just some of the strategies Waldorf utilizes to ensure each child's rhythms, rituals and repetition in the name of a high-quality education.


  • Since children taught at Waldorf schools cannot expose themselves to excessive amounts of multimedia, there is a much lower chance that these children will become distracted with their daily routine.
  • Waldorf schools are known for their strong environmental track record; children are not allowed to play with toys made with BPA and other unsafe chemical or synthetic substances.


  • Even in the 21st century, many teachers and parents have criticized Waldorf schools as being too secular, or anti-religious, in its treatment of spirituality and intellectual capability among children.

More information can be found at:

3. Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia approach to preschool education was founded in Northern Italy by Loris Malaguzzi, and it has gained a global following to this day. This rather informal philosophy portrays the child as a savvy learner and the teacher as the free-thinking researcher. It highly nurtures the correlation of a child’s natural development and his or her close relationship with the environment. Each Emilia center is staffed with two teachers per classroom, one atelierista (i.e. a teacher trained in the arts), and several auxiliary staff.


The basic Reggio Emilia preschool program constitutes the following advantageous principles: 
  • Emergent Curriculum — Topics for study are captured from the communication of children through community or family events, as well as the inherent interests of children (e.g. dinosaurs).
  • Project Work — In-depth studies are conducted on concepts, ideas, and interests made within a particular 
    group of children. 
  • Representational Development — Concepts and hypotheses are presented in multiple forms of representation, such as printing, painting, construction, drama, music, puppetry and shadow play.
  • Collaboration — Children are encouraged to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesize and problem solve through mixed-group work.
  • Since the Reggio Emilia approach to childhood education itself has no organized system of spiritual, theological or moral beliefs, it can sometimes be very challenging for teachers to develop and implement certain fundamental values in the classroom that will help their students learn more intrinsically.

More information can be found at:
North American Reggio Emilia Alliance
What is Reggio Emilia? by Rose Garrett -

4. Bank Street 

The New York Bank Street College of Education, which has been the leader in early childhood education for nearly a century,
encourages children to learn through their own experience. The world is the primary teaching tool, and the lessons are specifically focused on the social sciences.

The Bank Street approach to childhood education stresses the importance of developmental-interaction activities in an unstructured learning environment. Classrooms materials are of highest importance; the toys in the classrooms are basic, encouraging children to exercise imagination during play.

  • Bank Street schools have a flexible curriculum which encompasses questioning, exploration and a child’s own unique understanding of certain patterns, rhythms and relationships that continue well into adulthood.
  • The Lower, Middle and Upper Schools have team-taught instructors that allow children up to the age of 14 to develop unlimited social, emotional and cognitive abilities in literacy, math, the sciences, music, athletics, foreign languages and the arts.
  • Summer Camp programs allow children up to the age of 16 to explore self-starting opportunities in film, musical theater, sports, Shakespeare and Spanish Immersion Travel. 


  • Since most Bank Street schools are located in New York City, enrolling in certain programs can not only be costly, but also very hard to get into due to increased competition among both native and international applicants.

More information can be found at:

Bank Street College - School for Children
State of New Jersey Department of Education -
Bank Street Developmental Interaction Approach
Bank Street College Summer Camp

5. Language Immersion

Bilingual, or Language Immersion, preschools specifically concentrate on language learning. This educational philosophy dwells on the concept of using a target, or second, language as a teaching tool to give your child a thorough and satisfying foreign language experience. For example, native English-speaking children can use Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, etc. as a target language, whereas those who speak Spanish, French, German, Chinese, etc. typically use English as their second language.

  • Depending on the specific needs of your child, Language Immersion education philosophies can have different beneficial dimensions:  Total, Partial, Bilingual Immersion, Content-based Foreign Language Learning, or a comprehensive Learning through a Foreign Language experience.
  • There are an endless array of Language Immersion schools for both Majority and Minority Language children around the world; Spanish happens to have the highest percentage of Immersion programs.


  • Children who begin learning a foreign language after the common preschool age (i.e. 3-4) may have a difficult time learning in an Immersion school because of greater development in other areas of their brain that may inhibit the ability to learn a second language more naturally.

6. HighScope

Developed by David Weikart for the Perry Preschool Project starting in 1970, the HighScope philosophy was originally created to assist preschool children who grew up in low-income families. Now, it is being used in educational environments that have fewer socioeconomic barriers than in previous generations. Essentially, this educational philosophy emphasizes full adult supervision and is generally based on the manifestation of games and songs, as well as basic movement activities. 


The common advantageous HighScope program activities include: 
  • Active learning through direct, hands-on experience; 
  • Plan-do-view sequence, which allows children to plan their own daily routine;
  • Key developmental indicators: Language, Literacy, Communication, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Health, and Math; 
  • Conflict Resolution. 
Overall, the program has a unique sequence where children are encouraged to decide what they want to do, how they will carry out their choices, and how they will assess the decisions they have made. Also, the United States Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has stated that those who have attended HighScope preschools are less likely to engage in risky behaviors later in life, such as violent crime.

  • Although HighScope preschools have made substantial progress with expanding their autism and other developmental disability education programs, some teachers and parents have still struggled to accommodate the social and educational needs of those with more complex autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger's and Rett Syndrome, in recent years.

More information can be found at:
HighScope Educational Research Foundation
High/Scope Preschools -
"Highscope Educational Research Foundation & Excelligence Learning Corporation Announce Long-Term Partnership in Early Education" - PRWeb

7. Ananda Marga ("Pass of Bliss")

This unique preschool program circles around a Yoga-based philosophy known as neo-humanism, which encourages children to be more environmentally conscious and, thus, more respectful towards other living things besides human beings (i.e. plants and animals).

  • Neo-humanist preschool principles encourage children's personal and spiritual development, academic knowledge, artistic creativity and community awareness in a soothing learning environment without regards to race, religious beliefs, creed, ethnicity, ancestry, etc.


  • Although there are several Ananda Marga preschools in the United States, many of the more well-known ones are located outside of the U.S.
  • Parents with children who have severe physical disabilities should probably not let their children enroll in such physically intensive education programs that could result in greater injury.

More information can be found at:

Ananda Marga Global Network

"Path of Bliss" Definition - Ananda Marga Global Network
Sunrise International Pre-school
Gurukul Network: A Newsletter of Neohumanist Schools and Institutes affiliated with Ananda Marga Gurukula

With all due respect, the aforementioned special early childhood education philosophies represent a mixed approach to learning in general. However, not all institutions offer these specialized programs. That being said, it is important, if not imperative, to know what the specific preschool educational objectives are for each program because the quality of education goes hand in hand with the educational philosophy. Again, every child has different learning needs, and the choice you make for your child should not be taken for granted.

For more extensive background information on world-renowned preschool education philosophies, feel free to contact our research specialist any time.