Honing & Articulating Your Teaching Style


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When prospective parents visit your center or classroom, they are eager to learn about you and your approach to teaching. Whether you run a home-based center, are a director, or are a teacher, parents will want to get to know you and understand your educational philosophy. Do you believe in a play-based or emergent curriculum? Is your curriculum a blend of different subjects or philosophies? How does your approach compare with others? The variety of early learning philosophies can be confusing to parents, and they will be curious to understand why you believe in the approach you are using.

According to Tic Tac Teach, “Every educator has a philosophy of teaching that guides them throughout their professional career. This philosophy is based upon their own belief system and their understanding of how best to ensure a quality education for the students in their care…One the most fundamental aspects of being an early childhood educator is your ability to articulate why it is you teach, and how you will contribute to the development of children.”

An Introduction to Different Philosophies

To help you identify and describe your own philosophy, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular early childhood learning theories. This list offers very brief introductions to each of the approaches, with opportunities for further reading. We encourage you to find a philosophy that resonates with your own style!


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  • Montessori: The Montessori approach originates from the teachings of Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. PBS describes this philosophy as “child-centered, with teachers serving as guides…While there is a focus on academics, the distinguishing feature is that children learn at their own pace…with children ages three, four and five all being in the same room.” If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • Reggio Emilia: According to Scholastic, “The Reggio Emilia approach views young children as…curious about their world [with] powerful potential to learn from all that surrounds them.” In Reggio schools, the environment is referred to as the “third teacher” with detailed intention put into classroom set-up. Reflection through observation and documentation (displayed photos with descriptions) of children is an important element of the Reggio Emilia approach.  If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • Waldorf: Waldorf is a play-based approach that is also referred to as Rudolf Steiner Education. According to Waldorf Inspired Learning, “The Waldorf curriculum emphasizes the whole child, matches specific stages of child development, integrates the arts throughout the curriculum, and includes every one of the seven multiple intelligences.” Waldorf schools and teachers are all required to be Waldorf certified. If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • PITC (Program for Infant and Toddler Care): PITC describes its program as seeking “to ensure that America’s infants get a safe, healthy, emotionally secure and intellectually rich start in life.” The philosophy is centered around relationship-based care in which caregivers give responsive, attentive, and loving care. If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • RIE (Resources for Infant Educators): RIE, also called “educaring,” is built upon the basic principles of Magda Gerber. The basis of the approach is respect for infants and the goal is to support the development of an authentic child who is competent and secure. This approach trusts in the competence and abilities of infants to initiate their own exploration. Educators and caregivers observe to understand the child’s needs and encourage children to be active participants in their own caregiving routines. If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • HighScope: As described by Parents, “The HighScope Curriculum uses a carefully designed approach called active participatory learning. Children learn actively by having hands-on experiences with their surroundings, and learning is supported through consistent daily routines and well-organized classrooms. HighScope takes an academic slant with planned experiences in the basic subjects of math, reading, and science. It is based on past and current child development research.” If you are interested in learning more, click here.

  • Bank Street: Very Well Family describes this method as “a child-centered education program focusing on the diversity of curriculum. Students are offered active educational opportunities in areas that develop cognitive, emotional, physical, and social growth. Learning often includes more than one subject and in groups, allowing that children learn at various levels and using different methods.” For more information, click here.

  • Parent Co-op: Parents get to be involved in the daily routine, by working in the classroom alongside the teachers, and spending time with their children in the school environment. According to Parent Map, there are a wide variety of different practices in co-op preschools, but most include a play-based curriculum and family involvement. To learn more, click here.

  • Creative Curriculum: This approach was developed by Teaching Strategies Inc., to provide teachers with materials that outline a child-centered approach. According to Family Learning Center, it is “designed to meet the basic needs of the children. Inside the classroom, the…teacher creates an atmosphere in which children feel safe, feel emotionally secure, and have a sense of belonging…It also suggests giving choices and a role in determining how they learn. This curriculum helps children acquire social competence and the skills they need to succeed as learners.” To learn more, click here.

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