Maria Montessori lived from 1870 to 1952 and was Italy's first woman physician. She established her first Children's House for children aged four to seven years in the slums of Rome, but was forced to leave Italy when her educational methods were denounced by the Fascists.
The Montessori approach places great value on children's freedom, dignity and independence. From an early age, children's confidence and competence are fostered through the mastery of practical life skills while they work individually on the activities that interest them. The teacher's role is to help and encourage the children, allowing them to develop self-confidence and self-discipline, so there is less and less need to intervene as the child develops. From the age of six to 12, children explore a wider world, developing co-operative social relationships and complex cultural knowledge.
* For more information, see www.montessori.org.uk.
Rudolph Steiner founded the first Steiner Waldorf school for the employees of the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart at the end of World War I. His vision was that a new kind of school would educate human beings in such a way that they would create a just and peaceful society.
The pedagogy and philosophy of this approach emphasise the development of the whole child through cultivating emotional maturity, good judgement, creativity, initiative and moral responsibility. Imaginative play is very important and is the means by which the child grows physically, intellectually and emotionally.
Social inclusion is fundamental to the Steiner Waldorf ethos, and education is seen as the responsibility of the whole school community - the teachers, the parents and the administrator.
* For more information, see www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk.
The Reggio Approach is based upon an image of the child as a strong, competent member of society, who is social from birth.
The Reggio pre-schools and infant toddler centres have their origins in the period immediately after the Second World War, when educators, parents and children worked together to reconstruct society and build a better future.
Since the 1960s there has also been active civic involvement from the municipality, and the children are valued as citizens of the city of Reggio Emilia.
Active parental participation remains fundamental to the Reggio Approach.
Children's ideas are valued and respected and they are encouraged to develop their own theories about the world and how it works. Adults listen to the children and help them to develop and refine their theories by providing opportunities for discussion, reflection and representation. In this way, children learn to value their own ideas, to listen to and respect the ideas of others, and to negotiate, co-operate and participate.
* For more information, see www.reggiochildren.it High Scope
The High Scope approach developed from the Perry Pre School programme established in the United States in the 1960s.
This programme was designed to measure the long-term effect of good-quality early years education on the life chances of children in danger of social exclusion and has now accumulated over 30 years' worth of research data.
High Scope recognises the uniqueness of every child and develops self-confidence by enabling children to build on what they can do.
The 'Plan-Do-Review' cycle focuses on active learning by encouraging children to use their initiative, develop their strengths and interests and reflect on their learning. Emphasis is placed on the quality of relationships between adults and children to help children see themselves as responsible, capable, competent learners.
* For more information, see www.high-scope.org.uk