ABC, 123: What Types of Preschool Are There?

Preschool marks the beginning of a child’s experience with school. So it’s no wonder that parents often spend a great deal of time thinking about and researching different types of preschool and philosophies before enrolling their child in a program. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect program, but feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices out there, check out the options below to learn a little more about the most popular preschool philosophies.

preschools
Image via Unsplash/ Mike Fox

Montessori

The Montessori method was developed by Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. In Montessori preschools, children direct their own activities and make choices about how they’ll spend their time. Activities are hands-on and teachers encourage collaborative play. Montessori education is best for families that value self-direction in learning and who are willing and able to incorporate a lot of independence in their child’s at-home routine.

Play-Based Preschool

The theory behind play-based preschools relies on Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. At a play-based preschool, teachers and leaders believe that children learn best through experience and encourage lots of open-ended play. This sort of preschool is the best fit for families who are passionate about fostering their little one’s decision-making skills and who are willing to follow their child’s lead when it comes to what and how they want to learn.

Religious Weekday School

For families whose religion plays a central role in their life and who do not need full-time care, a religious half-day program might be the perfect fit. These preschools tend to foster independent play and incorporate religious teaching into their everyday practices.

Waldorf

At a Waldorf school, children will be exposed to hands-on learning and lots of creative, outdoor and unstructured play. Waldorf education relies on an understanding of childhood that values the natural world and the relationships children develop. Waldorf preschools are the best fit for families who highly value outdoor time and strictly limit electric toys and screen time at home.  

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While there are differences in theory and practice for the different types of preschool, the most important decision is finding a place where you feel your child is safe, cared for, and happy. Good luck choosing a preschool, parents!

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ABC, 123: What Types of Preschool Are There?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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