When your child reaches school age, you’ll want to enroll them in a preschool that addresses their unique needs while providing the best education.
Most preschools offer tailored types of curricula according to their philosophies. While there are multiple preschool curriculum approaches (some offer discovery learning, while others focus fully on academics), each program strives to mold children into better adults by teaching them essential skills they’ll rely on in the future.
As a parent, you want to select a preschool that offers a curriculum that best fits your child’s learning style.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the most popular types of preschool programs available.
Best types of preschool curriculum
- Reggio Emilia
- Parent Co-Ops
- Bank Street
1. Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is a project-based learning curriculum that originated in northern Italy. Preschoolers learn by exploring ideas and working on project-based activities through the atelier (creative space) and the atelierista (artistic teacher).
The system was developed by Loris Malaguzzi, an Italian pedagogist. It’s meant to enrich children holistically while considering their emotional and intellectual potential.
Reggio Emilia is among the types of preschool programs that incorporate an emergent curriculum and encourage learners to be independently strong and capable through hands-on and visual experiences. Schools implement student-driven teaching styles that explore ideas and freedom of expression.
Children are encouraged to use active listening, participate in hands-on activities, and explore movement. Classroom activities are often collaborative, allowing learners to forge healthy relationships around them.
The environment is the educator in this learning style. The classroom learning is then supplemented by direct involvement of the child’s family.
In a nutshell, the Reggio Emilia program encourages children to create and explore. The creative space and inclusion of family in the child’s learning journey are crucial.
Waldorf preschool curriculum is a blend of structure and creative learning. The system focuses on intellectual experimentation. Classrooms are mixed-age with a play-based approach to learning.
Rudolf Steiner founded the Waldorf curriculum to build learners’ practical and art skills. Its philosophy pushes for molding a well-rounded individual.
The Waldorf curriculum emphasizes the outdoors and creativity instead of traditional academics. There are no assessments, tests, homework, or grading. Rather, students undergo continuous testing through various activities.
There isn’t a set teaching method. Each learning institution that adopts the Waldorf approach offers a unique teaching method and style.
The typical school day involves personal contribution and collaborative learning in small classroom settings where the teacher watches over every child. Through creative learning, the child’s daily activities are self-driven. Their lessons are mainly experiential.
Waldorf is one of the early childhood curriculum programs that drive the child's emotional, physical, and intellectual growth. Waldorf schools are available to students from kindergarten to the 12th grade.
The Montessori curriculum is a child-centered program that sees teachers as learning guides. Children’s learning is self-paced in a mixed-age classroom setting. This curriculum offers five key study areas: language, culture, practical life, and sensorial mathematics.
Montessori was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who wanted to encourage teamwork among children. It utilizes special tools to build confidence in children through cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Children in a Montessori setting learn independently or in groups. Students choose the activities they’re interested in, which promotes accountability, independence, and passion. Teachers then help students harness their skills through after-school activities and question and answer sessions.
Classrooms use moldable learning materials to help the children explore new passions, concepts, and skills in a hands-on learning approach. The classroom is often free of desks, with uninterrupted sessions for the learners.
This learning method incorporates global leadership, social justice, and promoting constructive conflict resolution. It emphasizes self-motivation through individualized learning.
Montessori schools nurture children from infancy and early childhood until the adolescent stage.
HighScope curriculum is a popular academic-based approach mainly practiced in community centers. This is where children learn various academic skills, including telling time, counting, and other hands-on projects.
A HighScope setting encourages a child’s curiosity using learning materials. It provides an all-around learning environment with both peer and adult interactions. Students focus more on playful action than formal learning, so they can have fun as they learn.
Children are exposed to an environment that fosters the development of cognitive skills and builds cultural, emotional, and social bonds. The classroom becomes a community where everyone watches out for each other.
Early childhood curriculum programs using the HighScope method rely on key development indicators to guide teachers in choosing appropriate projects and activities for different ages. This makes it easy for teachers to understand and interpret the needs of the students and tailor their teaching to these particular needs.
The center of this model is play. A teacher will act as the child’s partner in a “play, do, review” sequence. Students get to select a project, plan on how to reach their goals, and work with the teacher to analyze the outcomes.
5. Parent Co-Ops
The Parent Co-op program involves parents in the children’s learning process. Co-op preschools occur when like-minded parents join together to hire teachers who fit the children’s learning styles.
While the system emphasizes the value of education, it also grows the bond between parent and child.
With the Parent Co-op program, the teachers and parents work in tandem to ensure smooth learning processes. Parents are often present during teaching sessions and will supervise their children.
Typically, parents offer advice or contribute to the curriculum, sometimes assuming administrative roles, including assisting teachers with lessons.
6. Bank Street
A Bank Street curriculum model is a non-traditional program that focuses on social sciences. This model is active and imagination-based and lets children learn from the environment around them.
Bank Street was developed by Lucy Sprague Mitchell, who was looking for a model that would focus on the development of the whole child. It uses an interdisciplinary approach to subjects to allow students to engage in education emotionally.
Bank Street preschool programs use a development interaction approach that aims to develop the child physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually. Students use different materials to learn in environments that accommodate their different stages of life.
Classrooms are mixed-age with environments that match every learner’s needs. Children socialize and work with different peers with the guidance of their facilitators.
There’s no competition among the learners; they decide whether they learn using a hands-on approach or through observation. Teachers provide one-on-one attention with the learner’s passion in mind.
Religious preschools incorporate theological themes into the children’s learning sessions.
Every religious preschool develops its philosophy according to its particular religion and its teachings. It aims to provide an environment where both faculty and students discuss their beliefs openly while practicing their faith.
Usually, a faith-based curriculum doesn’t focus entirely on religion but is open to incorporating religious values into academic lessons.
The Ascend program is a skill and play-based curriculum that nurtures the learner's creative, social-emotional, physical, and cognitive abilities. Children perform teacher-guided activities that encourage personalized interactions.
Through personalization, children engage with others while having fun and building their passion for learning. They’re encouraged to apply critical thinking to find solutions to intricate problems.
This preschool curriculum method offers a balance of structure and flexibility. Teachers offer individualized learning to allow personalized interactions that promote confidence.
Children are responsible for their learning as they create their own projects. The goal is to help them build a strong foundation for themselves as they develop crucial skills through creativity.
Selecting the right types of preschool programs
- Develop the curriculum with a child expert: Ask a child-focused professional with knowledge and experience for proven ways to help children learn and excel.
Try individualized instruction: Do the early childhood curriculum programs allow teachers to individualize instruction? In other words, the programs should let teachers arrange environments, adopt materials, and use various adult and child-directed teaching strategies.
- Look for programs that include family involvement: The curriculum should offer guidance on communication with families and allow them to participate in the child’s education.
As a preschool teacher, lesson planning is an essential skill to have. Download our free daily lesson plan template and customize to suit your teaching style and children's needs.
- Select a program that allows for different learning styles: Consider a curriculum that accommodates the visual, auditory, and physical learning styles.
- Identify a curriculum that meets your child’s needs: Avoid programs that sound rigorous and opt for the exciting and inviting ones. Also, ensure the curriculum is at the child’s level, and that they find it engaging.
- Look for environmental learning: The program should make it possible for students to learn from their environment. This enhances creativity and problem-solving, reduces stress, and improves social relations.
Deciding the type of preschool to enroll your child in can be challenging. Weigh your options based on your child’s capabilities and learning style. For preschools, choosing the curriculum requires thoughtful planning around what’s important to you and your staff. Selecting a particular style will make your center more attractive to parents who align with that curriculum.