Having a child for the first time can be daunting, especially with regards to choosing which schools to put them in once they are past the toddler stage. Maybe you are a mom who wants an alternative choice of education for your little one as you are not happy with the regular government or even normal private schools. There are certain alternate schools out there with different outlooks to education and the following are the three biggest alternative schools at the moment:
- Montessori Schools
- Waldorf Schools
- Reggio Emilia Schools
1) Montessori Schools
I am personally very fond of this sort of education. It’s structured, it’s organized and it just makes sense. There is complete order in every sort of activity. Every activity has a certain direct and indirect purpose. Every activity is there to teach the child to be an independent as possible and think for themselves. There are specific areas such as practical life which teach the child to do things such as clean up after themselves, tweeze, sweep, pour, open locks, bottles and boxes and give them skills to be able to do things on their own within the home.
Other areas include mathematics, where there is specific didactic material laid out for them that you will find in every Montessori school. The language area is amazing and children as young as three years of age love learning to read and some are actually able to grasp the basics as early as that. There is sensorial, geometry, geography, history (of the world), botany, science and zoology. Montessori encompasses everything about the world and was founded by Maria Montessori over a hundred years ago. Maria Montessori, by the way, was one of the first women of her day to study medicine at the University in Italy.
Montessori schools also believe in healthy lunches for the children allowing sugary snacks on birthdays. I have never seen a Montessori school that allowed junk food for lunch. A lot of the Moms at Montessori schools also prefer to feed their children very nutritionally. A Mom I know fed her child salmon almost 3 times a week. Salmon is packed with amazing Omega-3 fatty acids that benefit you at any age. Mommy Authority will keep you updated with the latest “Mommy trends” and health trends.
I have much experience with this system of education as I taught it for over 10 years and even headed up a large Montessori school. I found amazing successes, children who loved maths and could do the most complex of sums. My absolute favorite was teaching children how to read and seeing and experiencing their joy with them when they would read their first word. It was my greatest joy – their enthusiasm and excitement for literature.
Famous Montessori Alumni:
- Founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin
- Founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos
- Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales
- Video Game Pioneer and Creator Of “The Sims”, Will Wright
- Former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
- Singer, Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combs
- Princes, William and Harry and William’s son Prince George
- Author, Chef and Cooking TV Show Star, Julia Child
- Actresses, Melissa & Sarah Gilbert
- Nobel Prize Winner For Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Ex-Owner of Washington Post – Katherine Graham
- Author and Diarist from World War 2, Anne Frank
- Child Star & Actress, Dakota Fanning
2) Waldorf Schools
Rudolf Steiner is the father of Waldorf education. With regards to his philosophy for preschool education, it’s mainly based on practical, hands-on activities as well as creative play. A regular day encompasses art time (modeling, drawing or painting), free play, circle time – including songs, stories and games, outdoor recess, music (singing and dancing) and practical tasks, for example, gardening, cooking and cleaning.
The Waldorf classroom is set up to resemble a home , which includes toys and tools made from simple, natural materials that allow the children to use for their own imaginative play. By the use of natural materials the children have an opportunity to really use their imagination and make them be aware of nature. Waldorf is very much about the appreciation of nature.
If you feel your child is exceptionally artistically and musically inclined, often Waldorf is the way to go. The only con I find in this system of education is the fact that reading and writing takes place only at the age of 6 and 1/2, 7 years old.
Famous Waldorf Alumni:
- Actor, musician and director Adrian Greiner
- Actor, Rutger Hauer
- Actor, Justin Theroux
- Actress, Jennifer Aniston
- Actress, Sandra Bullock
- Actress, Anna Paquin
- Actress & singer, Mackenzie Phillips
- Actress, singer & model, Zoë Isabella Kravitz
- Comedian, actor and author, Nik Rabinowitz
- Model, Hailey Baldwin
- Model, Alaia Baldwin
- Model and actress, Vendela Kirsebom
- Model, actress, writer, journalist and television personality, Veronica Webb
- Musician, composer and producer, Jesse Cook
- Singer-songwriter, Josie Field
As you can see this carries a long list of very accomplished people in the creative arts.
3) Reggio-Emilia Schools
This is an interesting system of education. It’s completely based on free play. It’s program is based on the principles of responsibility, respect as well as community through exploration and discovery by means of a self-guided curriculum.
The classrooms are set up in a way that incorporates natural light and indoor plants. There are mirrors in the classroom and photographs line the walls.
A big philosophy of this type of education is the “hundred languages of children” which refer to the many ways in which children have in expressing themselves. The teachers give the children different avenues for constructing, thinking, revising, developing and negotiating and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings.
I have personal experience teaching in this sort of pedagogical method and personally found it to have not enough structure for my liking. There was too much free play and kids going wild. Perhaps my experience was not the full effect of what a proper Reggio Emilia school should be like and should you be interested in this sort of education for your child I suggest you call your nearest Reggio Emilia school up today and ask if you can observe the classroom for a day or two.
Well, there you go! A breakdown of all these popular teaching methods. At the end of the day you have the choice to choose whichever one appeals most to you and feels the best for your child. The best advice I can give it to go observe these schools for 2 days each and see which one calls most to you. And just a tip, if the school doesn’t allow you to observe don’t bother sending your child to that school. These sorts of open education normally should not prevent observations but actually encourage them. Good luck and may your little ones prosper!