Different Approaches To Early Learning: Comparing Five Programmes


There is no doubt that the early learning market is growing, with many experts telling you that their method is the best way to go about teaching babies. However, let’s face it: Each family, in particular each child, is unique. Some parents may find that Glenn Doman’s flashcards work more effectively, while others will realize that a combination of methods works best with their kids. As a concerned parent, your job is to find which one or which combination is the most suitable for your child’s needs.

Whatever your choice is for your precious young one, do remember that the earlier your child gets started on learning, the better off he or she will be in life.

(1)The Montessori Method

Philosophy: Maria Montessori, an Italian physican, believed that a child is a self-directed being who is able to learn on his own accord, without direct instruction. A child learns through exploring and discovering his environment — both the things and people within it.

Methods and methodology:

  • Young children are free to pursue their choice activity within a “prepared environment,” i.e. an educational environment with materials and activities tailored to the needs and interests of children of specific ages.
  • Children learn by interacting with the environment. They discover concepts from working with materials, rather than through direct instruction from teachers.
  • Montessori teachers act as facilitators in the classroom, organizing learning materials and guiding the children in their learning process, without ever supplying the answers. In a Montessori classroom, the focus is on children learning, not on teachers teaching.

(2)The Reggio Emilia Approach


Philosophy: Originating from the Italian city of Reggio Emilia, this approach views children as capable beings who are naturally curious, resourceful and intelligent. A child is able to chart his own educational path, hence a Reggio curriculum is flexible enough to accommodate a child’s ideas and thoughts.

Methods and methodology:

    • The teacher, parent and child are equal collaborators in the process of a child’s learning. The child is the protagonist, with the teacher and parents as partners.

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  • The child has some say over what he learns, and is allowed to pursue his own interests.
  • The teacher acts as a guide, to provoke ideas and help children see the connections in their experiences and learning. What a child learns in school will be documented down by the teacher in the child’s portfolio.
  • The environment is the third educator, after the teacher and parents. Reggio classrooms will typically include an atelier filled with a wide range of media (paints, clay, leaves, twigs, etc) for hands-on work. Children are also often brought on field trips too.(3)The Shichida Method Philosophy: The founder, Makoto Shichida, believed that the purpose of education is not to impart knowledge or skills per se, but to create a well-balanced child with great capabilities. Such a child would be able to utilize his whole brain in unison — both the right and left brain – to wonderful effect.

    Methods and Methodology:

    • The right-brain dominance of very young children is not a hindrance but a unique opportunity for learning. Using a variety of brain stimulation techniques, the innate capabilities of the right brain (eg, photographic memory, extra-sensory perception, creativity, perfect pitch, rapid calculation) can be activated.

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  • Activities are first directed towards educating the right brain, and then connecting the right brain to the left brain to maximise the brain’s fullest potential.
  • Children learn best in a loving and stress-free environment. So parental involvement and encouragement (any negative feedback from parent to child is a no-no) are essential to the effective learning of the child. .
  • Consistent daily practice of Shichida’s right-brain techniques and activities at home is important.(4)The Kumon Method

Philosophy: Created by Toru Kumon in Japan, this method of learning is based on the belief that, given the right kind of materials and the right support, any child is capable of learning anything.

Methods and Methodology:

  • This method involves repeated practice of core academic skills, until mastery is reached. Children are required to do worksheets on a daily basis as practice.
  • The programme is tailored to the child’s own pace. The child moves on to the next level when he has achieved mastery, via an achievement test, on the current level,
  • Students are deemed to have mastery when they are able to obtain an excellent score on the achievement test with ‘speed’ and ‘accuracy’ — the two major prongs of the Kumon method.(5)The Glenn Doman MethodPhilosophy: Glenn Doman believes that all children naturally love to learn, and can learn absolutely anything taught to them in a factual and joyous way. There is genius potential in every child, which can be unlocked if a child’s brain is stimulated right from birth.Methods and Methodology:
  • Teaching consists of flashing sets of cards (containing words, pictures, or mathematical quantities) to the child a few times a day. These flashcards and their contents should fulfil certain specifications of size, colour and clarity depending on the age of the child.
  • There is a regime of retiring old cards and incorporating new ones to pique children’s interest and advance their learning.
  • Parents are a child’s best teachers, not least because parents have a strong emotional bond with their child whom they love.
  • Children learn best in a joyful and non-stressful environment. So teaching and learning are more effective when both parent and child are in a positive mood. Furthermore, never test the child to see whether he has learnt. Testing creates stress for the child, and is thereby discouraged.


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