Many parents may have heard of approaches like Montessori or Reggio Emilia. While both approaches advocate holistic well-rounded education for children in the critical foundation years, let’s examine the main differences:
The Montessori approach vs Reggio Emilia Approach
The Montessori approach emphasizes nature, creativity, and hands-on learning with gentle guidance provided by teachers. The goal of the Montessori method is to develop a child's senses, character, practical life skills, and academic abilities. In contrast, the Reggio Emilia approach encourages exploration and focuses on the importance of community and self-expression. Its open-ended and child-led approach allows children to learn through projects and creative activities that reflect their interests.
Montessori tends to encourage individual work with built-in structural controls, while Reggio Emilia focuses on collaborative small-group work where learning is supported by others. Some parents may feel that under Reggio Emilia, children develop better social & collaborative skills since they do not work independently all the time. Also, children may be better able to adapt to classroom settings in Primary School as they are more accustomed to group learning. Another feedback from parents is that Montessori may be limiting a child’s natural creative tendencies, due to its fixed structure and pre-defined set of activities, unlike Reggio, which allows free-flowing creative exploration along themes that match a child’s interests.
There is no right or wrong, but parents should consider this – in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (V.U.C.A.) world in future, which approach helps prepare your child?
Beyond Montessori and Reggio Emilia, another framework fast gaining popularity is the “Habits of Mind”, which originates from the USA and cultivates intelligent learning habits in young children. In fact, the “Habits of Mind” has been specially selected and adopted by the Gifted Education Branch of MOE for the top 1% of Primary School students in Singapore!
Parents looking to expose children to this unique framework can look for Mulberry Learning, a preschool network with the accolades of “Best Holistic Learning Programme” and “Best in Promoting Positive Learning”. With 8 centres in Singapore, Mulberry Learning is the only preschool network in the world to be globally certified by the USA for “Habits of Mind”, and its approach involves a unique blend of popular pedagogies like Reggio Emilia, “Multiple Intelligences” (USA) and “Habits of Mind” (USA).
The above parent's question is answered by Dr. Henry Toi, Dean of Research & Development at Mulberry Learning Centre.