How to Choose a Learning Philosophy for Your Child

How to Choose a Learning Philosophy for Your Child

The pressures to be the perfect parent feels very high in the 21st century. There is not only the stress from balancing work and family, but from choosing an early childhood program from the vast number of options available.

Childcare at a brand new preschool or daycare centre can be an overwhelming expense for families. There are opportunities to discover and find local boutique programs, whether they be home-based or community-based, that follow learning philosophies that are incredibly suitable for your child. These programs can assist in their transition process, and have a positive impact on a child’s learning & development. Use this as a guide in helping you to find the right fit for your family.

Montessori - Inspired

Montessori-inspired programs are designed to empower children to be independent and explore their potential. This approach is based on active observations of the child and has been used for over a century in many parts of the world. This style of program is focused on guiding children to engage on their own with the environment, other children, and the educators in the room. The physical space of a Montessori-Inspired environment will allow children to learn social, cognitive, and emotional skills through new experiences on their own. Defining characteristics of these programs often involve an orderly classroom with uninterrupted periods of time for children to choose and complete an activity, as well as, mixed-age classrooms with a unique curriculum emphasizing independence, responsibility, and self-discipline.

Did you know that a Montessori-inspired learning allows children of different ages to collaborate and help each other? Children have the ability to form leadership skills as they are responsible for their personal belongings and needs. Children not only grow and learn at their own pace, but they are able to follow their own interests and incorporate early-stage decision making.

Reggio Emilia - Inspired

Reggio Emilia-Inspired programs are built on the core assumption that children form their own personality during the early years of development and are endowed with "a hundred languages" through which they can express their ideas. These programs primarily focus on project-based theme learning. The projects and themes are not planned in advance, but rather emerge based on the children’s interests. Time is spent to ensure children are immersed in the subject by creating projects which all tie into the underlying theme of the day, week, or month. During this time, children have the opportunity to explore, observe, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding of the theme. This style of learning is emphasized on children being able to communicate in many different ways, including arts and crafts, dance, role-playing, and drama. Defining characteristics of Reggio Emilia environments often include rooms filled with natural light to capture the order & beauty and authentic materials & tools for play and learning.

The physical space of Reggio Emilia-inspired rooms will include a variety of tools to support children in supporting cognition, emotions and social connections. The educators in the practice of Reggio Emilia-Inspired childcare pay close attention by listening, observing, and celebrating children in their own magical and unique ways.

Educators have the ability to observe the children’s reactions to different surroundings and themes to guide them towards what they enjoy. A Reggio Emilia-Inspired environment is one that is free-flowing and open to exploration, learning, and play.

Waldorf - Inspired

Waldorf-inspired programs emphasize the creative and imaginative side of childhood, seeking to develop a child’s humanity and their unique capacities. Educators are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. The are aware that young children learn through imitation, movement, and the experience of diverse sensory impressions. Defining characteristics of Waldorf-inspired environments include daily routines with liberal arts and free play, as well as, practical tasks such as cooking or cleaning with rhythmic variations that foster the healthy development of imagination and intellect.

Waldorf-inspired physical spaces are made to inspire children's creativity and imagination. There will also be dedicated areas in the space to practice life skills and abilities through building, cooking and gardening. As well as social skills and care for others through awareness of others’ feelings and taking turns with activities.

Waldorf training often utilizes different forms of artistic elements such as music, movement, rhythm, colour, and recitation. These elements improve the creative abilities of children and help them in the pursuit of freedom as they grow. Children will be well-rounded individuals with a focus on art & music education, physical education and emotional & social education. The Waldorf-inspired curriculum is ideal for parents that want to raise children who are independent-thinkers, creative, and have the ability to cooperate with others.

Play-Based or Emergent

Play is an essential block in a child’s early developmental journey. These programs utilize the power of play for learning, and continue to be the underlying theme in several early childhood education curriculums. Educators aim to find a balance between uninterrupted free play and extending a child's learning in different ways through fun activities. The physical space of a Play-Based or Emergent facility will often explore various developmentally-appropriate activities. For example, there might be a block area (for gross motor skills and problem solving) , an art area (for expressing emotions and ideas), and a reading/cozy area (for relaxation, literacy, and respite).

The defining characteristics of these programs focus on two primary types of play: (i) free-play, which is directed by the children themselves, and (ii) guided-play, which is play that has some level of adult support or involvement.

Play-Based or Emergent learning is a non-academic approach to help children develop a firm foundation of skills for future academic success. Educators prioritize active participation, adaptability, inquiry, and relationship building. Children will develop feelings of security, accomplishment, and self-esteem. When children are playing, they engage their social, mental, and physical connections which helps foster growth. In these settings, children will get the opportunity to learn from others and develop cognitively through fun interactions. Purposeful play acts as a guide to ensure sessions are engaging, fun, and well structured.

Nature-based and Outdoor

Nature-based and Outdoor programs (sometimes dubbed as the Forest School approach) seek to encourage, engage, and inspire children through free flow play with nature. The divide between indoors and outdoors is broken and children learn in and from nature. Children are given freedom to direct their own learning and enter into a certain amount of risky play, such as cooking on an open fire, creating a woodland nest for a bird, and examining the shape, scent, sound and surfaces of various trees.

Children will enhance and advance their learning and awareness abilities by being outdoors, experiencing and conducting activities. What is cool for children, is when they understand how the different environmental aspects relate, they can make decisions based on facts. The main goal from Nature-based programs is to enable children to understand their commitment to human responsibility, with plenty of room for free play, exploration, and understanding nature!

Language Immersion or Bilingual

Language Immersion or Bilingual programs are great for when you want your child to be exposed to, or fully learn, a second language. The educator does not have to translate or explain the language in isolation. There are different types of bilingual programs, 100% immersion means the curriculum is 100% in the second language. A partial immersion curriculum is made up of roughly 50% a foreign language and 50% the first language. Lastly, a bilingual immersion curriculum is a combination of students who are learning a second language, and those who are not.

Language Immersion or Bilingual programs are best for children who have already mastered their first language. Avoid it for children who are struggling with their first language as language immersion temporarily slows the development of the primary language.

Cooperative - Inspired

Cooperative-Inspired programs gives the parent the opportunity to participate in the various activities of your child’s schooling. You prepare snacks, follow up on how your child is doing at school, understand the struggles and progress they made've, and any other role.

You as a parent will work closely with the educator to examine your child’s studies. One benefit of Cooperative-Inspired learning is that there tends to be a reduction in costs for the parents.

Religious - Inspired

Religious-Inspired programs combine co-curricular and extracurricular activities with religious philosophy. There are several churches and other religious facilities that have established faith-based preschool programs. This content strengthens academics and social development while building moral character.

In a Religious-Inspired environment, Educators must proclaim the religion of the day and lead exemplary lives. Educators lead children by example. Religious organizations have great curriculums and provide support to neighbouring communities.

How Do You Determine the Best Learning Philosophy For Your Child?

The goal for your child

It is important to first analyze and figure out what your goal is for your child in a home daycare. The many different learning philosophies come with varying results for children. Are you looking to enhance their creative abilities, teach them another language, or improve their social skills? Once you have defined the goal you want for your child, you can find a home daycare that implements the corresponding philosophy.

Parent’s role in the learning philosophy

The level of parent involvement varies with each learning philosophy. For example, if you tend to have some spare time, you can opt for a learning method that requires additional hands-on engagement like a Cooperative-Inspired program.

Your child’s ability

It is important to know and understand the capability of your child when determining what type of learning philosophy is best for them. No matter how much you prefer or want your child to be in a specific learning method, at the end of the day, it is their ability that determines it. For example, you should not enroll your child in a Language Immersion program if they are struggling with their first language.


Every decision in life, especially regarding your child, presents many options that can be overwhelming. Choosing the right daycare, home daycare, and preschool education program is difficult because they are quite similar. Philosophy-Inspired programs focus not only on curriculum learning but also on raising decent, aware, and independent-thinking kids. This approach to Philosophy-Inspired learning produces well-rounded individuals.

Are you ready to give your child the best care and early education experience through home childcare? Contact us on how we can help you find the best local program and learning philosophy for your child.