Until my daughter started her nursery school, I was fully involved only in problems of scientific research and the problems of higher education whether in India or abroad, and never thought about early childhood education. I was educated in a governmental Hindi medium school in north India and was completely satisfied with the outcome, so why to bother? But ever since my daughter started her nursery school at the age of 3, I also started learning about early education and different approaches to the early developmental goals. I do not necessarily like every aspects of American education system and have my own complains about it, but nevertheless it is an interesting learning experience for me.
When first time I heard about Reggio Emilia approach in her school during a parent-teacher seminar, I had no idea what it is. but now I am little bit more educated, so will try to explain different approaches towards early developmental stages and their goals, and lets see where it goes from here:
Reggio Emilia Approach: There are few principles behind this approach, such as
* Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
* children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing;
* children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and
* children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
All I can say, that my daughter is ever enthusiastic about her school experience and learn a lot things not in direct ways but by exploring through art and nature.
Piaget Based Apprach: In his classic paper of 1973, Piaget describes few goals of early education such as:
Long term objectives of the curriculum are the facilitation of moral and social growth, and intellectual development leading to formal operational functioning. Education is seen as a process that encourages creative and critical thinking. Short-term objectives are listed in categories of socio-emotional and cognitive development. The model is based on the traditional child development curriculum, with three major differences: (1) thinking is emphasized rather than factual knowledge or sensory learning; (2) the principles of teaching are modified to encourage an active environment, self-initiation of activity, problem-solving directly from physical objects, and the freedom to be "wrong" so that correct answers can be self-discovered; and (3) the role of the teacher is to create the environment where these learning activities will naturally take place.
Montessori based early education: Montessori method is also child centric and try to adopt child's developmental level with the education through creative environment.
Interesting point is that none of these methods are academic centric and does not focus on academic skills at the early developmental stages.
I have no statistics with me to tell which approach is better and also, it is still too early to comment about outcome of my daughter's education. In India and also in many other countries around the world, early nursery education is very academic centric and I am uncomfortable sometimes that her education is not academic centric and try to compensate in home with reading, writing and mathematical teaching. Overall, I hope this combination will bring a happy, confident and self-assured person ready to take on the world and its challenges