How Are We Different

Reggio Inspired!


  1. Follows a strict tradition according to the design of one person: Maria Montessori
  2. Requires particular teacher certification credentials.
  3. Believes that development proceeds in a strict order (e.g., that circles should be learned before squares 
  4. Greater focus on each child developing as an individual, less focus on the group.
  5. Curriculum broken down into small parts with each requiring specific materials and affording a particular action
  6. Children are allowed to choose own activities for many hours each day.
  7. Teacher introduces a specific use for each structured piece of apparatus.



  1. Unites teachers, children, parents, and the community and encourages diverse ideas about how the school should operate.
  2. Selects teachers based on experience in constructivist education, knowledge, compassion, and ability to facilitate children's growth, not adherence to one particular teaching method.
  3. Less focus on a timeline or appropriate ages for learning; more focus on each child's current challenges.
  4. Focus on each child developing within a group which is in turn useful in society, while emphasizing that without the individual contributions of each person, there is no group or society.
  5. More emphasis on deep, holistic understanding, and learning in real, hands-on, contexts.
  6. Respects children's interests, abilities, creativity and individuality within a teacher facilitated framework.
  7. Children gather and create materials along with the teacher to achieve the learning purpose.


  • Both approaches have a long tradition, parts of which have recently been validated through scientific research, and are beginning to be incorporated into many schools.
  • Both Montessori and constructivist education share several specific approaches, activities and understandings of how students learn.
  • Both believe that mixed-age classrooms better accommodate students developing as individuals and social beings.
  • Both believe that children are naturally curious learners who learn best by interacting with their environment
  • Both focus on overarching themes, so that learning fits into a context.
  • An important goal in both is for students to learn how to learn and to enjoy the process


  1. A class is studying early cultures in a distant place: Native Americans and Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass.
  2. The teacher tells the children the information he or she thinks they should know. Children sit quietly and listen.
  3. For the activity, the teacher gives the children a ditto sheet with pre-drawn objects. "Correct" colors are specified for the children, who are told to stay within the lines.
  4. In a traditional school, children are usually measured on what they have learned by being tested on the information previously told to them. What's valued is their ability to retain facts and repeat them back.


  1. Reggio Inspired inquiry based learning would reflect the developmental level of the students, with hands-on experiences that children relate to themselves and connect to their own lives. Field trips are a primary source of these experiences.
  2. Children are expected to think, to act, to interact, to ask questions then to answer those questions for themselves by thinking, measuring, reading, writing, etc. The teacher's role is to provide experiences, materials and opportunities for children to explore and expand their knowledge, and to support children to be proactive as they move through their individual learning process.
  3. Attempts to pull from the child his/her own ideas, thoughts and personal expression in creative work. Children have the experience of being respected as capable, contributing human beings. We learn about our students by creating a safe environment and asking them to freely show us what they know. The choices that children make in their drawing, color scheme, layout, etc. help us learn much about them.
  4. Through observation and dynamic interaction with the children, teachers monitor what they are learning. Children learn to take risks and to not fear a "wrong answer." What's valued is children's critical thinking, individuality, collaboration skills and pro activity. Our children must do something with the information they acquire. A culmination to end a unit of study might include a play written and performed by the students; songs, art, stories, books or dioramas based on the unit of study; etc. The culmination helps them solidify and internalize the information


  • The goals of Traditional and Progressive Education are similar: we all want to produce children who are educated, pro-active and self-confident. We believe that the job of all educators is to constantly examine whethe the methods they use in the classroom will actually produce the results that they seek.

The Voyager School is modeled on the Reggio Inspired classroom model of education which has a structure that:

  • allows for rich, unique learning opportunities often based on student interest
  • uses combined age level teaching and learning
  • addresses the varying educational needs of all kinds of learners
  • is democratic in nature, allowing children and parents to have a voice in their education
  • defines learning as both academic and social
  • uses authentic methods of assessment to measure children's learning and set future goals
  • encourages families to interact in the classroom on a regular basis

Emergent curriculum describes the kind of curriculum that develops when exploring what is "socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children" the basic idea is that organic, whole learning evolves from the interaction of the classroom participants, both children and adults. "As caring adults, we make choices for children that reflect our values; at the same time we need to keep our plans open-ended and responsive to children" (Jones and Nimmo, 1994, p3).

Adult & Children Involvement

In emergent curriculum, both adults and children have initiative and make decisions. This power to impact curriculum decisions and directions means that sometimes curriculum is also negotiated, between what interests children and what adults know is necessary for children's education and development. Ideas for curriculum emerge from responding to the interests, questions, and concerns generated within a particular environment, by a particular group of people, at a particular time (Cassady, 1993).

Emergent curriculum is never built on children's interests alone, teachers and parents also have interests worth bringing into the curriculum. The values and concerns of all the adults involved help the classroom culture evolve. The curriculum is called emergent because it evolves, diverging along new paths as choices and connections are made, and it is always open to new possibilities that were not thought of during the initial planning process (Jonmes and Reynolds, 1992).

Teachable Moments

Emergent curriculum arises naturally from adult-child interactions and situations that allow for "teachable moments." It connects learning with experience and prior learning. It includes all interests of children and responds to their interests rather than focusing on a narrow, individual, or calendar driven topic. It is process rather than product driven. The curriculum is typically implemented after an idea emerges from the group of children.