DAP, MONTESORRI, WALDORF: What Parents Should Know About Preschools in the Philippines

Graduation season is here, and so is summer. At this time of the year, families are either busy preparing for their child’s proudest moment yet, or making plans ahead for a fun summer break. But, believe it or not, there are parents who are already looking into different preschools to enrol their child as early as now for the next school year. Parents want the absolute best for their children, and are researching schools  in advance is a means for them to identify a school whose learning approach will align perfectly with the child’s needs. 

As you go on your journey in finding an appropriate preschool for your child, it is important to consider the school’s philosophy in early childhood development—and the term “preschool” is more than just a precursor to regular schooling. It is where they explore their curiosities, learn the language; acquire reading proficiencies; and grasp basic mathematical concepts, as well as develop their social skills by interacting with fellow toddlers throughout a preschool day. 

There are seven types of progressive preschool programs, to say the least – the arts-focused Reggio Emilia, methodical Montessori, natural Waldorf, hands-on HighScope, child-directed Bank Street, the parent-involved Cooperative Preschool, and the adaptive Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP). There are many options to choose from but of course, not all can be the best match for your preschooler.

In this article, we’re going to talk about four preschool approaches most commonly known: DAP, Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia.


Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)


This approach is built on the principle that all domains of development (physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and language & communication) are important in every child’s growth. It also falls under the progressive umbrella of preschool learning philosophies like many others, but what makes it different is that the early childhood educator puts importance on the individual child, particularly their age, developmental level, interests, as well as their socio-cultural background. From there, hands-on and experiential lessons are created to address the children’s interest and skill needs giving importance to achieving each child’s holistic growth. 

“What DAP is, in short, is basically a framework based on research on how to properly teach young children,” said The SchoolRoom Directress and early child development specialist Tiffany Yu. According to her, children should be taught appropriately based on their skill level and interests. She stressed that adapting to the child’s well-being and over-all development is the key to this practice because children in preschool are attuned and responsive to the social and cultural contexts in which they live. “Play is a child’s means of making sense of their world through exploration, experimentation, and social interaction, and understanding this concept makes it natural for educators to use play as the child’s medium for learning,” said Yu. 

DAP also encourages continuity and change as children gradually determine their abilities, relationships, and goals. In its roots, development and learning recur from biological maturation and experience as a result of consistent and responsive relationships with their families and social peers.


A strong sense of hands-on experience is what drives most Montessori programs. Children learnconcepts in a prepared environment, enabling them to explore their knowledge and creativity with the guidance of the Montessori Directress. What goes on in a Montessori classroom is methodical since it focuses on one educational center at a time, depending on each child, before engaging in another. 

“A Montessori classroom is a prepared environment focused on 5 areas: practical self-help, language, math, geography, and colors, sizes, & shapes.  Based on the child’s age, for example, if you come in at two years old, the School Directress will focus on developing their independence, which is found in the practical self-help area in the classroom.” said Yu, explaining that this pacing affects classroom arrangements because the Montessori setting is mixed-age.

The goal of the Montessori program is to develop the child’s self-esteem, creativity, and independence which would be vital later on in life.


Waldorf preschools thrive in developing young children to establish their unique individualities in a natural environment. Expect the teachings of the Waldorf wisdom by Waldorf alumna themselves because instructors should be Waldorf certified.

Outdoor-focused, friendly and cooperative — the Waldorf structure is opposed to traditional grading systems, as well as the use of digital platforms in its curriculum. “Play is child’s work” comes into mind with this learning approach since there is a big push on music, arts, performance, and creativity that enable kids to explore their innate skills and talents. Similar to Montessori, the Waldorf approach is also teacher-directed.

However, starting at eight years old, a child is ready to transition from creative learning to formal academics. Thanks to Waldorf’s dynamic, supportive and lively approach, their students are most likely to be well-rounded, curious, and smart youngsters when they leave school.

Reggio Emilia

The basic idea of the Reggio Emilia preschool is that kids are encouraged to explore. It believes that a child has rights to discover, develop and test his full potential through the opportunities this approach will provide. 

The lessons are in line and reflective of the interests of the students. Similar to Waldorf, children are also exposed to arts and creativity that allow them to understand the importance of self-expression. They are guided by their teachers in their chosen endeavors while in school.

Reggio Emilia also teaches kids how to be responsible citizens, with the majority of its activities observes cooperation through problem-solving, good decision-making, and settling conflicts. 

While this learning structure is project-based heavy, most practitioners look at Reggio Emilia as a theory in practice than a teaching method. Instead of being seen as a target of instruction, children are valued to have an active role in their respective communities that can influence their relations with their families and peers. 

In the Philippines, progressive schools like The SchoolRoom, which follows the Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) approach, put a particular premium on interaction during early development, apart from learning academics. 

Miss Tiffany Yu said: “I feel it is important to choose a school that focuses on your child’s needs. The child should thrive in an environment that caters to his or her growth and development, while simultaneously developing his or her lifelong love for learning. At the SchoolRoom, we put great significance in DAP and with that, we focus on developing the needs of every child through active learning experiences that engages, enriches, and promotes their over-all development in a fun and exciting manner.”

The School Room is located at AIC Gold Tower Unit, 106 Sapphire Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. For more information, you can call up (02) 632-7754 or 09178365222. You can also visit their website via http://www.theschoolroom.ph.

Here are some suggested sources for further reading:
On Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio:

(1) http://amshq.org/.../Introduction.../Montessori-Classrooms

(2) http://montessori.edu/faq/


(1) http://www.naeyc.org/

(2) https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PSDAP.pdf

(1) https://waldorfeducation.org/waldorf_education


Reggio Emilia:
(1) http://reggioalliance.org/resources/

(2) http://www.naeyc.org/yc/node/324