4 Alternative Education Methods for Children

4 Alternative Education Methods for ChildrenOne: Waldorf Education

The Waldorf educational model was initially developed in the early 1900s by Rudolf Steiner in Berlin, Germany. As a tutor and lecturer working primarily with adults, Steiner had unique ideas concerning educating children at a time when schools were quite different than today. An unusual aspect of his first school in Stuttgart, Germany was that it accepted students from a variety of interests, abilities and social classes. By the 1920s, Waldorf schools were operating in the United States and Great Britain. The basis of Waldorf schools includes spiritual or philosophical beliefs such as reincarnation. Students are divided into three primary education categories that include:

  • Birth through kindergarten age – centers on experiential education
  • Elementary – lesson plans cultivate a child’s imagination and emotions
  • Secondary education – students learn about different specialized subjects

Two: The Montessori Method

Maria Montessori developed her educational methods beginning in the late 1890s while living and studying in Rome. To test her philosophies, she opened her first classroom for the children of working-class parents rather than wealthy students. Montessori’s methods were criticized by other educators, leading to the demise of its expansion until the 1960s. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools throughout the United States that primarily accept preschool through middle school age students. The Montessori Method is devoted to human development throughout a lifetime with these goals:

  • Purposeful activity
  • Exploration
  • Communication
  • Exactness
  • Order

Three: The Reggio Emilia Approach

During the 1960s, schools based on the Reggio Emilia Approach opened in Italy to teach a method designed by Loris Malaguzzi. The basic premise of this educational model was to help young children develop their personalities along with teaching them responsibility. Students are permitted to guide their own education with this educational approach with teachers assisting rather than instructing. Children are encouraged to think and share their own knowledge as a way of increasing their development. Students enrolled in a Reggio Emilia school learn with these principles:

  • Students must have an opportunity to express themselves
  • Students should learn by observing, listening, moving and touching
  • Students are able to decide what to study

Instead of learning primarily from textbooks or lectures, students are involved in hands-on projects to explore and observe. Additionally, the Reggio Emilia Approach believes that children or students are the responsibility of communities rather than just parents.

Four: The Charlotte Mason Method

The Charlotte Mason method revolutionized education in the 1800s in England as Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason recommended that all children have a liberal education rather than one designed purely to learn an employment skill. Mason focused her energies on training governesses at a specialty school and writing books to instruct parents how to raise and teach their children. The Charlotte Mason Method is popular today with parents who homeschool their children and uses these principles:

  • Habit training
  • Living books
  • Short lessons
  • Emphasis on handwriting
  • Appreciation of the arts
  • Outdoor education

Charlotte Mason believed that education for children is an atmosphere and requires a disciplined lifestyle.