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Waldorf vs. Reggio Emilia preschools

Comparing Waldorf and Reggio-inspired preschools and daycares

Below, we compare Waldorf to Reggio Emilia preschools. This should give you a good sense of their similarities and differences. To learn more about preschool and daycare programs in general, check out our introductory guide.

Waldorf preschools

Waldorf preschools have a flexible approach. Kids can often choose their own activities, and pursue their interests and passions. There is a daily schedule, though.

There's little, if any focus, on core academics in Waldorf preschools. In fact, Waldorf kids don't normally start math and reading (at least through direct instruction) until grade 1.

Waldorf preschools, like Waldorf schools in general, aim to educate the whole child. Teachers educate children’s cognitive, active, and emotional sides.

Waldorf focuses a lot on art, imagination, and creativity. In preschool, young children are given plenty of time for free play, artistic work (e.g., drawing, painting, and modelling), circle time (songs, games, and stories), and outdoor recess.

Reggio Emilia preschools

Children, on the Reggio Emilia approach, have a unique nature. They’re competent, curious, and full of knowledge. Reggio-inspired preschools aim to build on these strengths, to help kids fulfill their vast potential.

Reggio preschools, like all Reggio schools, provide a supportive and enriching learning environment. They have multi-age classrooms, where children often work together.

The classroom, referred to as “the third teacher,” is set up to promote communication, interaction, and problem solving. With help from the teacher, children are given the freedom to explore their interests and pursue projects based on them. They sometimes do this on their own and sometimes in small groups.

Reggio programs also place a great emphasis on expression. Children are encouraged to express themselves in lots of different ways using a wide range of media (such as painting, sculpting, and drama). They’re also urged to share their thoughts and ideas with teachers and other children. This is based on the idea of “the hundred languages.”

Reggio teachers support students in a number of ways. For starters, they observe children to see what interests them. They then connect them with meaningful work. They also post children’s work in the classroom, and document their work in many ways to track their progress.

Waldorf vs. Reggio Emilia preschools

Main similarities

  • Child-centred: Both programs allow the child to mostly select their own tasks and activities.
     
  • Multi-age classrooms: Both programs have mixed-age classrooms, where kids have the same teacher for several years. In Reggio, it’s usually two or three years. In Waldorf, it can be up to six years.
     
  • Art and creativity: Both programs focus a lot on art and creativity. In Waldorf, this is done mostly through imaginative play, drama, music, and story telling. In Reggio, this is done mostly through arts and crafts, which allows kids to express themselves in many different ways.

Main differences

  • Emphasis on play: Both preschools have some play-based learning. This is more of a focus in Waldorf, though.
     
  • Focus on academics: Waldorf programs normally delay academics until grade 1. Reggio programs encourage children to take on serious projects in preschool.
     
  • Principles: Unlike Waldorf, Reggio Emilia education isn't based on a unified set of principles. Instead, it’s based on certain values about how children best learn.

​To learn more about the similarities and differences between various types of preschools, read our comparison guides. In separate articles, we compare Montessori to WaldorfMontessori to Reggio Emiliaacademic to play-basedMontessori to play-based, and Montessori to academic preschools. If you want to compare specific schools one-to-one, visit our compare hub. You can also read our guide to preschool questions.

To learn about the similarities and differences between these types of schools in general (as opposed to preschools), read our comparison guides. In separate articles, we compare Montessori to Waldorf, Waldorf to Reggio Emilia, and Montessori to Reggio Emilia schools.

Preschool questions (read our in-depth answers)

Answers to the question “What is the difference between Waldorf and Reggio Emilia preschools?” from school officials

“Waldorf and Reggio Emilia both use a curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and believe in child-initiated play. In the Reggio Emilia approach, lessons are based on the interests of the students and are project-based. Child questions that arise through play (such as “How does a flower grow?”) are turned into lessons by the teacher, resulting in a project for the students. The Waldorf approach supports child-initiated play to cultivate healthy growth and learning in a range of areas, from gross and fine motor skills to the development of imagination and creativity.” Lylli Anthon, faculty chair of Halton Waldorf school, a Waldorf school in BurlingtonOntario

“Waldorf, like Montessori, aspires to educate the whole child, though concepts can be taught in a variety of ways. Reggio is a project-based program, where the lessons are based on the interests of children.” Marcel Pereira, director of Century Private School, a Montessori school in Richmond HillOntario

Series: Preschools

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List of Waldorf and Reggio Emilia preschools

 
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  School Name Type Cost

Richland Academy (est. 2002)  

  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (200 students)
Richland Academy is a progressive, innovative Reggio inspired and International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for children from 2.5-years to Grade 8. Voted #1 Private School in Richmond Hill 4 years in a row. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
$18,000 to $18,800


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 18000

Vancouver Waldorf School (est. 1971)  

  • North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • Homestay school (30 students)
  • Day school (300 students)
Vancouver Waldorf School offers programs from pre-school through to grade 12 in North Vancouver, BC. Its average class size is 12 to 25 students. [View profile]
  • Waldorf
$8,500 to $14,170


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed 8500

B.E.N. School-House (est. 2005)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • Day school (35 students)
B.E.N. offers an engaging, caring learning community.Focus is on qualities and skills alongside Ontario Curriculum. Small class sizes, daily outdoor activities, art classes and workshop. Parenting workshops are offered. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$7,350 to $11,900

User
reviews (5)

• User reviews (5)
Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed 7350

Vincent Massey Academy (est. 1985)  

  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • NS to 3 Coed
  • Day school (230 students)
Vincent Massey offers a balanced approach to education, setting your child up for succecs in all avenues of life. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$9,000 to $15,000


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed 9000

Toronto Waldorf School (est. 1968)  

  • Thornhill, Ontario
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (360 students)
Toronto Waldorf School offers a curriculum that integrates academics,arts & movement, and addresses the intellectual, physical, emotional & social aspects of child development. Preschool to gr. 12. [View profile]
  • Waldorf
$18,000 to $21,000


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 18000

Waldorf Academy (est. 1987)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (240 students)
Waldorf Academy offers programs from childcare to grade eight in downtown Toronto. Its average class size is 18 students. [View profile]
  • Waldorf
$5,040 to $19,950

User
reviews (2)

• User reviews (2)
Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 5040

Academie Providence (est. 2002)  

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (200 students)
Providence Academy is the only Private French Catholic School offering a trilingual program of study in Ontario with classes from nursery to grade eight. Tuition: $8,800-10,300. Extracurricular activities: $600-$650. [View profile]
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
$9,000 to $10,300


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 9000

Aurora Montessori School (est. 1989)  

  • Aurora, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (370 students)
Aurora Montessori School offers a comprehensive, nurturing and enriched program for Toddler to Grade 8. Our enrolment of 375 day students has an average class size of 15 to 24. [View profile]
  • Montessori
  • Reggio Emilia
$10,500 to $16,200


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 10500

Kingsway College School (est. 1989)  

  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (400 students)
Kingsway College School offers programs for PK to grade 8 in Etobicoke. Its average class size is 17 to 21 students. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$9,980 to $28,060


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 9980

Mississauga Christian French School (MCFS) (est. 2008)  

  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (63 students)
Mississauga Christian French School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 15 students. Offering an Olympic-sized Gym. [View profile]
  • Progressive
$7,000 to $9,000


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 7000

ArtsCalibre Academy (est. 2011)  

  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • PS to 9 Coed
  • Day school (170 students)
ArtsCalibre Academy empowers students through creativity, mindfulness and leadership. We offer Preschool to Grade Eight in 2017/2018, adding one grade per year through to Grade 12. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$1,600 to $6,250


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 1600

Halton Waldorf School (est. 1984)  

  • Burlington, Ontario
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (180 students)
Halton Waldorf School in Burlington, Ontario offers a licensed preschool, kindergarten and grades 1 to 12. It’s average class size is 15 to 21 students. [View profile]
  • Waldorf
$8,800 to $14,620


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 8800

Robbins Hebrew Academy (est. 1957)  

  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • Day school (390 students)
Robbins Hebrew Academy (RHA) teaches students to think critically and globally, in a community that builds self-esteem and life-long character. RHA is Toronto’s first Jewish school to be CAIS accredited. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$13,050 to $17,990


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed 13050

Kingsley Primary School (est. 1981)  

  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • PS to 5 Coed
  • Day school
For the past 36 years Kingsley Primary School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade five in Etobicoke. Its average class size is eight to 12 students. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$12,000

User
reviews (2)

• User reviews (2)
Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed 12000

St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (est. 1891)  

  • Oakville, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • Day school (550 students)
Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Graduating Year since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything. [View profile]
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
$18,000 to $28,430


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls 18000

Whistler Waldorf School (est. 2000)  

  • Whistler, British Columbia
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • Day school (200 students)
WWS is a dedicated Waldorf school in Whistler, B.C. offering early years education all the way up to grade 12. [View profile]
  • Waldorf
$8,938 to $16,423


Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed 8938

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