Most states have several different types of preschools available. Head Start, a federally funded preschool program, for example, began as part of the "War on Poverty" in 1965 to help disadvantaged children in terms of skills and achievement. These programs offer health care, meal plans and other services in addition to education. Other types of prominent preschools and philosophies include Montessori, Waldorf, Developmental, Reggio Emilia and High/Scope.
Montessori is a well known preschool whose philosophy dates to 1901 and sprang from the mind of Dr. Maria Montessori and seeks to teach children how to do their own learning. The Waldorf preschool approach originated in 1919 in Germany, and it accents imaginative play as well as an appreciation in the children for non-materialist ideas. Reggio Emilia thinking began in postwar Italy and takes a project-based approach to a child's development. The projects may be either the child's or the teacher's idea. High/Scope is one of the more recent preschool philosophies, growing out of a 1960s program in Michigan that was geared toward underprivileged children. High/Scope uses an active, hands-on learning approach where a child's interests end up helping determine his or her curriculum. In a sense, the children decide what they want to learn [source: Education.com].
Public preschools are funded by state taxes; they are geared toward providing a stable environment for toddlers from low-income families, although they're open to everyone. The price of private preschools ranges from $2,000 to over $30,000 a year per child. Some of these preschools have rigorous application processes for admission. It's recommended that those shopping for a preschool for their child pay close attention to the school's purported teaching philosophy, of course, as well as the atmosphere of the school -- its look and feel -- and how much emphasis the school places on reading [source: PBS].
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