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Different Approaches to Teaching:
Comparing Three Preschool Programs
Hatsumi Mann
Northern Virginia Community College
CHD 120



The article Different Approaches to Teaching: Comparing Three Preschool
Programs by Amy Sussna Klein focuses on three types of teaching approaches: The
Montessori Method, High/Scope, and Reggio Emilia. The articles highlights key elements that
make each approach unique. As educators I believe that we should explore other methods of
teaching and pull from them what we believe would fit into our teaching style. Not everyone will
agree on the same methods, but I feel it important to educate ourselves on various approaches.

Different Approaches to Teaching:



Comparing Three Preschool Programs
There are various teaching methods used all over the world. Each individual educator has
approaches or methods they connect with and believe are the best. We must still be open to
observing and learning other approaches as part of continuing education. There may be ideas or
new approaches that we may be able to incorporate into our individual teaching style.
The first program discussed is The Montessori Method. This method was founded by
Italy’s first female physician, Maria Montessori. She worked with low-income children and
children with disabilities and used natural observations to develop the Montessori Method. She
opened her first school 1907. The first school in the United States opened in 1911. This approach
differs than most traditional schools in the way that teachers do not have such a centered active
role. The teachers role is to observe and guide the children to the proper materials when needed.
The materials provided were created by Maria Montessori herself and are made to be self
correcting. Independence is key and an emphasis on children learning by exploring is the belief.
The classroom is set up to be homelike and made for children. The furniture is child sized and
classroom itself should be aesthetically pleasing. What makes this method unique is that it
promotes independence and the materials are self correcting vs. an adult intervening and
The next approach discussed is The High/Scope Approach. The approach was developed
to try to prevent school failure in high school students who lived in lower income areas in
Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was founded in 1970 based on the work Dave Weikart and Connie Kamii
did on the Perry Preschool Project (initiated in 1962.) When compared to a matched control
group, the children who were part of the Perry Preschool Project had more high school graduates
and fewer arrests, according to the article. This approach follows the constructivist theory, which



is the belief that we learn by mentally and physically interacting with the environment. The
children learn by trial and error, and creative exploration is highly encouraged. This theory is
similar to Montessori in the way that they believe children learn through active involvement. It is
unlike Montessori in the way of teacher involvement. The High/Scope approach encourages
children to be active through supportive adult interactions. A major component of the approach is
the “Plan-do-review.” The children are encouraged to plan the area, materials and complete a
project. The classroom is set up so children can easily clean up after themselves and everything
is accessible to their level.
The last approach is The Reggio Emilia Approach. This approach originated from Italy
as well. It was started in the small town of Reggio Emilia with a population of about 130,000
people. Their preschool system included 33 infant, toddler and preschoolers and was noted by
Newsweek to be one of the ten best school systems in the world. What their approach includes
is several different adults who take part in the curriculum and planning of the schools. They
strive to implement the philosophy of the system. They use “documentation” in their approach.
“It is a sophisticated approach to purposefully using the environment to explain the history of
projects and school community.”, says Amy Sussna Klein. The children work on long term
projects that last no less than three weeks. Flow charts are used as a way to record planning and
assessment. They consider the environment as a “third teacher.” This can be a very difficult
approach to duplicate. It is not labeled as a model, but an approach. It takes time to create a
school into a “Reggio Emilia School.”
In conclusion, all three approaches focus on independence and learning through
exploring. They all provide a beautiful environment made for a child. I am personally familiar
with The Montessori Method and still favor this approach when working with children. The idea



is to “follow the child” and let them learn on their own with as little adult interruption as
possible. Teachers are there to present work and give children a starting point, but then the
children will explore and learn on their own. The High/Scope approach seemed very similar to
any typical center, in my opinion. It was a very good approach and included many areas that are
beneficial to children. I would expect to see most typical centers to follow this approach. The
difference I did see was the “plan-do-review.” I am not familiar with most centers following this.
It seems like a good idea, but the article did no give a lot of detail so I am unsure of how it would
work. The Reggio Emilia Approach seems to have a lot of teacher involvement. After reading
the article I still was a bit unsure of how this approach worked. It seems to work well for some
schools, but is difficult to form. They focused on keeping charts of processes on how
relationships are built. From what I understand, Reggio Emilio is a well known approach, but I
am unfamiliar with it. Overall, all three approaches focus on the child and all have the children's
best interest in mind. I feel that no matter which of these three approaches are used, you cant go
wrong when it comes to educating children. They are all very dedicated and their main goals are
educating and doing what is best for children.

Klein, A.S (2008) Different Approaches to Teaching: Comparing Three Preschool Programs.
Early Childhood News. Retrieved from