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The children's house

The Essential Parent Guide to Early Childhood Education Approaches

by on 02/12/2019 13511

Learn about the different early childhood education methods and decide which one is the right fit for your child.

Few preschools fall neatly into one category or another. Most comprise a blend of best practices drawn from multiple curriculum type. It is common for teachers to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to guide children across multiple areas of learning such as language, mathematics, science, art and more. Lessons usually focus on periodic themes and promote the development of the whole child. 

  • Learning mode

  • Environment

  • Materials

  • Learning Outcomes

  • Teacher’s Role

  • Best Suited For Children Who:


This approach focuses on the structure of knowledge that is organised into subjects.

Structured, sit-down lessons and activities

Low social interaction, movement and free play

Books, worksheets and whiteboards

Academic skills

Give direct instructions

  • Can sit through structured lessons

  • Are focused

  • Do well in a less social environment


This approach revolves around initiated play and activity-based learning to help children understand the world around them.

Small group activities

High social interaction, movement, imaginative play and noise

Variety of learning aids, materials and toys

Pre-academic skills and socialisation

Observe and guide

  • Are active, with lots of energy

  • Prefers lots of activities and social opportunities


This approach allows children to make their own choices in learning, while teachers guide them in the process.

Both individual and small group activities

  • Hands-on experiences, learning from peers, low noise and calm environment

  • Space does not feel cluttered

Child-accessible concrete materials, sensorial apparatus, manipulative puzzles

Promotes character traits like independence, responsibility and respect

Facilitate and guide unobtrusively

  • Appreciate working through uninterrupted periods of time

  • Need the freedom to grow at their own pace

Reggio Emilia

This approach focuses on plenty of open-ended projects that are chosen together by both the children and teachers.

Small group projects and few whole class lessons

  • Environment reflects the children, parents and teachers of the school

  • Materials and spaces foster creative exploration

Project specific and craft materials

Encourage problem-solving, logical thinking, communication and self-expression

Teachers don’t pre-plan children’s activities. The activities emerge as a product of children’s interests.

  • Do well in groups

  • Enjoy exploring and problem solving


This approach engages children through a flexible curriculum that emphasises on practical learning and nature.

  • Cooperative group learning

  • Children are not introduced to formal reading and writing skills until Year one

  • No standard grading system

  • A lot of time spent away from desk-learning.

  • The external environment is an integral part of the education

  • Embraces free thinking

  • Natural materials

  • No technological media

  • Sustains the holistic growth of the child – head, heart and hands

  • Fosters connectedness and love towards nature

  • Instill a sense of enthusiasm in learning

  • Sometimes, teachers help children complete activities

  • Love playing outdoors in the natural environment with peers

  • Want the freedom to pursue own tasks

High Scope

This approach initiates activities that actively engage children in the process of thinking and forming their own understanding.

  • Both individual, and small and large group activities

  • Active learning

  • A lot of interactions with other people and the environment

  • Learning spaces are designed to promote independence

Diverse, open-ended materials that encourage exploration and exercise creativity

Higher-level thinking skills such as deciding what to do, how to carry out ideas and reflecting upon actions

  • Introduces children to progressively more difficult materials when appropriate

  • Communicates trustingly as a partner with children and parents

  • Are self-starters and active learners

  • Enjoy being part of the decision-making process

Theory of Multiple Intelligences

This approach suggests several other ways for teachers to present teaching materials to give diverse learners a chance to succeed at learning.

Group experiences that engage all the intelligences

Thoughtful arrangement of objects and resources

Emphasis on “real life” materials

  • Develops all 8 areas of intelligence, from logical and linguistic to interpersonal and visual

  • Ability to solve problems in real life

  • Teach and assist children using an interdisciplinary approach

  • Uses different teaching strategies to cater to children’s different learning styles

  • Are active and loves to move

  • Enjoy being engaged in hands-on learning and working with friends


This approach teaches children both secular and religious subjects.

  • Children learn with peers that holds similar values and faiths

  • Balanced focus on both academics and religious studies

  • The collective mindset of the whole school community maintains a positive culture of close relationships

  • Written and unwritten rules that shape children into better citizens of the future society

Supportive books and learning materials

  • Academic and spiritual growth

  • Religious values such as trust, justice, honesty and honour

More specialised instruction to develop children’s understanding of their spiritual selves

Thrive in a close-knit learning environment with like-minded friends