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Learn More About The Different
Types of ECE Programs 

Before you start your job search, you may find it helpful to learn about all the child care options that may be available and a good fit for you. Consider the size of the program, the physical environment, or philosophy or pedagogy. 


Montessori education is student-led and self-paced but guided, assessed, and enriched by knowledgeable and caring teachers, the leadership of their peers, and a nurturing environment.

For more than a century now, the child-focused approach that Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed for educating children has been transforming schools around the globe.


As soon as you enter a classroom, you know that something different is afoot. Montessori classrooms are immediately recognizable. You will see children working independently and in groups, often with specially designed learning materials; deeply engaged in their work; and respectful of themselves and their surroundings.


The Montessori Method fosters rigorous, self-motivated growth for children and adolescents in all areas of their development—cognitive, emotional, social, and physical.


The Reggio Emilia Approach® is an educational philosophy based on the image of a child with strong potentialities for development and a subject with rights, who learns through the hundred languages belonging to all human beings, and grows in relations with others.

The Reggio Emilia Approach® is born, grown and renewed in Reggio Emilia’s municipal infant-toddler centres (0-3 years) and preschools (3-6 years), the places where the educational project, based on the values and foundational traits, is moved forward every day. 



Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.

Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned artist, and scientist, Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf education evolve from an understanding of human development that address the needs of the growing child. 


Reggio Emilia

Head Start

Head Start programs support children's growth from birth to age 5 through services centered around early learning and development, health, and family well-being. Head Start staff actively engage parents, recognizing family participation throughout the program as key to strong child outcomes.

Head Start services are available at no cost to children ages birth to 5 in eligible families. Head Start preschool services work with children ages 3 to 5 and their families. Early Head Start services work with families that have children ages birth to 3, and many also serve expectant families. Many programs operate both Head Start preschool and Early Head Start services. Programs deliver child development services in center-based, home-based, or family child care settings. All Head Start programs continually work toward our mission for eligible children and families to receive high-quality services in safe and healthy settings that prepare children for school and life.



Publicly funded pre-K programs vary from state to state; they can be universally available regardless of family income or focus on specific populations, usually children from low income backgrounds. 


Programs also vary based on state early learning standards and guidelines for choosing curricula. Public pre-K programs are typically funded by the state but can be funded by cities and school districts. They can service children from birth - 6 years of age depending on the state requirements. 

Source: County Health Ranking 

High Scope

In a HighScope preschool program, teachers ignite children’s interest in learning by creating an environment that encourages them to explore learning materials and interact with adults and peers. We focus on supporting early learners as they make decisions, build academic skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become part of a classroom community.

Active learning is at the center of the HighScope Curriculum. It’s the foundation of young children gaining knowledge through their natural play and interactions with the environment, events, and other people.


Family Child Care

Family child care home providers care for a small group of children in their own private home, such as a house, apartment, or condo unit.

To ensure a safe care environment, states and territories use child care licensing regulations to limit the number of children that can receive care in a family child care home. Child care regulations also limit the number of infants and toddlers that can be cared for in a licensed family child care home to ensure proper supervision and safety. When a family child care home is licensed, the provider must also meet a range of health and safety requirements, including training (such as CPR/First Aid) and criminal background check requirements. They are also monitored by the state or territory to ensure they continue to meet those requirements.



Faith-based organizations—encompassing both religious ministry and religious oriented community groups—play an
important role in American society, including in the delivery of child care. Faith-based organizations
are in a powerful position. They have a strong infrastructure and understand the needs of their
communities. Faith leaders are uniquely positioned to share information about child care and advocate for children and families. Whether hosting a colocated child care program or operating a child
care facility, faith-based organizations can shape families’ experiences and perceptions of early care and education.


Parent Co-ops

A parent cooperative preschool is organized by a group of families with similar philosophies who hire a trained teacher to provide their children with a quality preschool experience. The preschool is administered and maintained by the parents. The parents assist the professional teachers in the classroom on a rotating basis and participate in the educational program of all the children. Each family shares in the business operation of the school (usually a nonprofit venture), thus making it truly a cooperative venture. Parents, preschool children and their teachers all go to school together and learn together.



Children don’t learn at the same pace or in the same way. The Ascend Curriculum offers a balance of structure & flexibility and enables our teachers to individualize instruction to accommodate the interests and learning styles of each student. Even our youngest students benefit from Ascend.  


As the teachers work with a small group of students on an activity, other students are engaging in fun, hands-on lessons in learning centers throughout the classroom. This allows for personalized interactions between teachers and students. As a result, your child is engaged, supported, challenged, and having fun while independence and creativity soar.

Source: Cadence Education


One method of curriculum design that has emerged to counter the “theme-of-the-week” approach to program delivery is emergent curriculum. Emergent curriculum is based on the premise that children are most successful at learning when curriculum experiences account for their interests, strengths, needs, and lived realities. Educators committed to this philosophy use observations of children throughout their day as a tool for constructing curriculum content.

Source: University of Toronto 


Play-based learning, specifically guided play, maintains the joy of free play while allowing children to connect authentically with content. When children co-construct their learning with their teachers and peers, they apply it to their own lives making meaningful, personal discoveries as they progress towards learning goals. Children naturally learn through play by engaging in and making sense of their world. Guided play is self-chosen, enjoyable, and process-oriented. These opportunities are experiences that are child-directed and teacher-facilitated in which teachers take an active role as intentional planners, observers, and guides.

Source:New Hampshire Child Development Grant

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