When it comes time to choose a preschool for your child, the choices can be overwhelming. The first step of the process, for most parents, is to decide what type of preschool they will want their child to attend. There are a variety of different teaching styles available. Here is a look at some of the more common preschool philosophies to consider.

Play Based

Play based preschools are considered to be the most popular. The philosophy behind these types of preschools is that young children learn best through play based activities. Most play based programs offer structured activities as well as non-structured play times. Teachers help to facilitate learning through play and interaction with other children. Gaining social skills is also a focus of these programs. Play based advocates believe that the child’s development, in this environment, helps ready the child for primary school

Montessori Based

Montessori schools have been around for over one hundred years and the first school of this type was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy. The Montessori philosophy focuses on children learning at their own level and pace. Each child is respected as an individual with their own choices. Classes at Montessori schools are usually mixed in terms of ages. Children are encouraged to be independent and to engage is tasks that relate to real life. Independence, self esteem, and self discipline are thought to be outcomes of this type of teaching philosophy. Teachers are specially trained and each individual school, depending on the teachers, will have its own interpretation and style based on Montessori learning.


In a Waldrof preschool the emphasis is on the whole child. Teaching is geared toward developing the child’s sense of imagination as well as their creative thinking skills. Children are encouraged to explore their environment. Natural play is emphasized and usually only wooden toys are used. Many Waldrof schools will also spend time gardening, doing nature projects, preparing and working with wood. Teamwork is also emphasized.

Co-op or Parent Participation

If you want to be directly involved in your child’s preschool experience, a co-op or parent participation nursery school may be a good fit. These types of pre-schools are usually play based and are maintained by the parents. Generally enrollment fees are lower than other schools, but parents do have to be quite active. Usually each parent will volunteer once a month to work in the classroom and then they also will have another administrative job. Fundraisers are also common in these types of preschools.

Once you've decided on the type of preschool, narrow down your options for specific schools and visit them to pick the right preschool for your child.