Six Types of Preschool Curriculum

When it comes to teaching toddlers their ABC’s and 123’s, there are countless philosophies and early childhood curriculum approaches that programs can take instructing little ones.


And, while all programs are geared towards teaching students important social skills, improving their cognitive development and preparing them for future schooling — how they go about that can vary as there are several different types of preschool curriculum.


As a program director and/or owner, it’s important for you to select a common curriculum for all your students. Not only will this allow your teachers to teach more effectively, but it will also help parents know what to expect when it comes to in-class learning.


Below are six major types of preschool curriculum that vary in their early childhood approaches.


Bank Street

Originally developed in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century, this approach focuses on the whole child’s development. The play-based approach fosters active learning through hands-on activities like art, blocks, dramatic play and puzzles.


Social and emotional learning are the heart of the Bank Street curriculum which helps kids build a sense of self, discover their role within the community and recognize (and appreciate) differences among all those in a classroom setting. Preschoolers learning in a Bank Street environment tend to work in non-competitive group settings.



According to the HighScope website, their approach is to, “ignite children’s interest in learning by creating an environment that encourages them to explore learning materials and interact with adults and peers. [We] focus on supporting early learners as they make decisions, build academic skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become part of a classroom community.”


Simply put, the HighScope method believes children construct their knowledge through doing and being actively engaged with the world and people around them. Active learning, including natural play and interactions with the environment and other people, is at the heart of the HighScope approach. These hands-on experiences in the classroom help children develop problem-solving and conflict resolution skills. Consistent daily routines and well-organized classrooms help support the learning process at HighSope programs.


HighScope programs are especially popular in community centers and at faith-based organizations.



This is perhaps the most well-known of all the different preschool programs.


The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, and over the last century, this child-focused developmental approach has been incorporated into schools around the globe. In the United States, the popularity of this curriculum grew following the creation of the American Montessori Society in 1960.


The Montessori curriculum includes cultural studies, geography, language, math, music and science, and movement and sensory exercises that help guide learning.


Montessori classrooms are unique. Instead of using desks, students use the floor or tables. Children also move freely about the classroom (since movement is an important component of this curriculum).


All teachers must have an early childhood undergraduate or graduate degree, as well as Montessori certification, and the curriculum focuses on all areas of a child’s development, including cognitive, emotional, physical and social. Many Montessori programs continue past preschool into the teenage years.


Parent Co-ops

Cooperative preschools are organized, administered and led by groups of parents with shared educational ideas and philosophies. The parents then hire a trained teacher who instructs the class based on the parents’ input.


One of the wonderful things about co-ops is they can focus on any of these other early childhood curriculum approaches or combine multiple ones for a truly unique experience for their children.


Reggio Emilia

This approach, which began in the Italian town of Reggio Emilia in the mid-19th century, is all about creating good citizens.


In these classrooms, there is no set curriculum. Instead, lesson plans are always evolving based on and guided by student interest and response. Basically, any child can direct the classroom learning based on curiosity and the questions they ask.


The Reggio Emilia Early childhood curriculum approach is practiced in more than 145 countries and territories around the world.



The Waldorf curriculum, a structured creative learning approach, was founded in the early 20th century and is based on Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner’s insights and principles of education.


According to Waldorf Education, Waldorf schools, “offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential and academically rigorous approach to education… Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.”


Children in Waldorf preschool programs learn through play-based experiences, with an emphasis on creativity, including music and art lessons. Waldorf education also encourages children of all ages to have daily, unstructured outdoor play.


Finally, every teacher must be Waldorf certified.


These are just a sampling of the many different types of preschool curriculum available. And, while different preschool programs may want to focus on different things, at the end of the day the goal is always the same: to help the students become the best possible versions of themselves.


At CCEI, we believe students learn best when they’re actively engaged in the material. That’s why we launched our own play-to-learn style curriculum. Our research-based Pinnacle curriculum is available for both secular and faith-based programs and can be reused and recycled every year (saving you money in the long run).


To learn more about our type of preschool curriculum and how it can be implemented in your center, click here.