Waldorf vs. Reggio Emilia schools

Comparing Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools in Canada

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What’s the difference between Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools? And which school is a better fit for your child: Waldorf or Reggio?

Below, we compare Waldorf to Reggio Emilia education in Canada. This should help you to understand the difference between these two types of schools. It should also help give you a good sense of whether either option is right for your child, and if so, which one.


Waldorf schools

The Waldorf philosophy is, in many ways, opposed to that of mainstream schools. Waldorf schools have several progressive classroom practices that you won’t find in many of today’s schools.

Flexible curriculum

Waldorf schools and preschools don’t have a standardized curriculum. Instead, they give their students quite a bit of freedom to work in a broad range of areas and pursue their own interests. And teachers carefully tailor curricula to meet each student’s unique learning needs.

Whole child education

While Waldorf schools do cover core academics, at least at the elementary level, this isn’t their whole focus. They aim to educate your child more holistically—intellectually, emotionally, and practically. Teachers develop children’s aptitudes for thinking, feeling, and acting.

Delayed academics

Waldorf schools delay formal academics. Formal instruction in math, science, and reading isn’t given until grade 1. Unlike in many other other schools, it isn’t offered in preschool or kindergarten. Kids don’t start formal academics until they’re developmentally ready, and ideally, interested.

Focus on the arts

Creativity and the arts are a big focus. These are infused throughout curriculum. Many lessons begin with a story, song, or dance. Moreover, schools devote a lot of independent time to arts and crafts, dance, music, and other arts subjects.

Imagination and creativity

Pretend play is encouraged in preschool and kindergarten. There are lots of toys, art materials, and games in the classroom. Kids spend lots of time playing indoors and outdoors. The aim is to promote imaginative learning, creativity, and social and emotional skills.

Practical learning

Students do plenty of hands-on learning, at least up until grade 3. They learn and practice important practical skills, including cooking, cleaning, and gardening. They also learn crafts such as woodworking and sewing.

Limited technology

The use technology such as TVs, computers, and tablets is minimized. Too much screen time, it’s thought, can interfere with interaction and social development. Students first need to master “fundamental, time-honoured ways of discovering information and learning, such as practical experiments and books” (The Herald Scotland, December 2, 2007).

Click here to view a list of Waldorf schools

Reggio Emilia schools

The Reggio Emilia approach to education, like the Waldorf approach, is unique. It also involves several progressive classroom practices.

Self-guided learning

Reggio Emilia schools and preschools encourage self-directed learning and use what’s called a “co-constructed curriculum.” Teachers carefully observe and monitor students in class to gauge their interests. They use this knowledge to prepare the learning environment and find meaningful work and activities for each student.

Emergent curriculum

Teachers don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Nor do they try to impart knowledge to the class through lots of lectures or direct instruction. Instead, they observe children, ask them questions, and listen to their ideas. They thereby learn what kids are drawn to and plan their curriculum accordingly.

Importance of projects

Reggio schools make projects a big focus. These are mainly proposed by students, though teachers do make suggestions and act as a sounding board. Projects can be short- or long-term. They allow children to pursue deep and interesting ideas, and explore them in great detail.

Relationship-driven classroom

Each class is viewed as a system of relationships. Teachers consider each child’s relation to their family, other children, the teachers, the school environment, the community, and wider society.

The Reggio classroom is set up to promote lots of interaction. Children interact with teachers throughout the day, and they often work with their peers in small groups of two to five.

Many modes of learning

Teachers create environments where children can use many modes or languages to learn (sometimes called the “hundred languages.”) These modes include drawing, painting, modelling, sculpting, music, dance, poems, stories, metaphors, and more. Children are also given a wide range of materials to express themselves, such as paint, clay, wire, and natural and recycled materials.

Parent involvement

Parents are considered a vital part of education. In fact, parents are encouraged to be very involved in school. This can take many forms, including day-to-day interaction, advising and working with staff, helping out in the classroom, and attending field trips.

Click here to view a list of Reggio Emilia schools

Waldorf vs. Reggio Emilia

Main similarities between Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools

Main differences between Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools

To learn about the differences between Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia schools, read our guide. You can also read our guides comparing Montessori to Waldorf and Montessori to Reggio Emilia schools.

To learn about the differences between various preschool approaches, read our comparison guides. In separate articles, we compare Montessori to Waldorf, Montessori to Reggio Emilia, Waldorf to Reggio Emilia, academic to play-based, Montessori to play-based, and Montessori to academic preschools. If you want to compare specific schools or preschools one-to-one, visit our compare hub.

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List of Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools

 
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Type
Grades
 
 
 

Oakville, Ontario — Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Grade 12 since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything. View School Profile.


  • Signature Programs in Global Studies, STEM & Robotics, Active Healthy Living, Arts & Design
  • Professional Internship Customized for Each Girl (Grade 11)
  • Enriched curriculum, Advanced Placement, DELF
  • Focus on whole girl and student wellbeing
Grades:
PS to 12 (Girls)
Type:
Progressive, Reggio Emilia
Tuition:
$21,000 to $31,065
Living:
Day
Enrollment:
550
Avg. Class:
Varies
St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School 21000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
 
 

Toronto, Ontario — At Hudson College, we encourage all students to do one thing above everything else: be yourself. We value and celebrate individuality, and embolden students to be intellectually curious and fully express who they are. View School Profile.


  • 4.5-acre, air-conditioned campus
  • Reggio Emilia approach in JK–G1
  • Before and after-school care up to G4
  • Hot lunch program, prepared in-house
  • Mobile iPad and laptop labs
Grades:
JK to 12 (Coed)
Type:
Traditional, Reggio Emilia
Tuition:
$18,250 to $19,500
Living:
Day
Enrollment:
420
Avg. Class:
15 to 20
Hudson College 18250 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Davenport Rd/Spadina Rd
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $14,325 to $22,650

Small class sizes and our unique curriculum - infused with Arts, Movement, Outdoor Education - create deeper connections across subjects, at all child development stages. Parents describe us as “schooling with heart".

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Waldorf Academy 14325 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Spadina/St Clair Ave W
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $35,800 to $69,145

The Bishop Strachan School is a leading independent JK-Grade 12 day & boarding school for girls. Students build the academic skills to thrive at university and beyond. Over $2 million available in financial assistance.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Progressive
The Bishop Strachan School 35800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
  • Victoria, British Columbia
    Richmond Rd/McRae Ave
  • K to 12 Coed
  • $22,150 to $79,130

Independent Kindergarten to Grade 12 boarding and day school in Victoria, BC, Canada focusing on outstanding preparation for life. Find out how a SMUS education can benefit your family.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Progressive
St. Michaels University School 22150 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $22,000

Richland Academy is a progressive, innovative Reggio-inspired and International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP Authorized and MYP Candidate School for children from JK to Grade 8.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Richland Academy 22000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
    Bloor/Shaver
  • PS to 5 Coed
  • $6,600 to $12,000

Kingsley's small classes and personal approach help students reach their unique potential. Each child is seen, heard, and respected. French, music, and phys-ed round out a program which includes plenty of time outdoors.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
Kingsley Primary School 6600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Surrey, British Columbia
    152nd Street/24th Avenue
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $7,500 to $10,500

WRCA exists to inspire and cultivate citizens of Godly character who transform their world for Christ. We do this through integrated faith based teaching and the International Baccalaureate programme for JK - grade 12.

  • Homestay/Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
White Rock Christian Academy 7500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed
  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
    yonge/king
  • PS to 7 Coed
  • $30 to $35 /day

We have two main programs we offer throughout the school year, our half day enriched preschool program for children ages 3-6yrs, and our educational before and after school program for children ages 4-12yrs.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
Play Island Explorers 30 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Day Coed
  • Vaughan, Ontario
  • K to 1 Coed
  • $35,000

The only Kindergarten that will prepare your child with special needs to grade one,we are using the Miller Method and DIR/FloorTime.our ratio is 1:4 student.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Waldorf
ACK-Autism Centre for kids 35000 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • PS to 9 Coed
  • $4,410 to $14,850

Calgary Waldorf School’s rich and challenging curriculum carefully balances academic, artistic and practical activities to stimulate intelligence and encourage creativity.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Calgary Waldorf School 4410 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
    South Dr/North Dr
  • K to 12 Coed
  • $24,800 to $67,900

SJR is the world’s leading school in Debating and Public Speaking. It has produced 18 Rhodes scholars and 3 math olympiads. 98% of SJR graduates are accepted to their first choice university program.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • Reggio Emilia
St. John's-Ravenscourt School 24800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
  • Newmarket, Ontario
    Mulock Drive/Bayview Avenue
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $29,255 to $72,055

Pickering College's fully-integrated Global Leadership Program (JK to Grade 12) inspires students to become agents of courageous, ethical and positive change with the confidence, knowledge and skills to shape the future.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Progressive
Pickering College 29255 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
    16th Ave/Range Rd 33
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $7,000 to $15,950

-Passionate Learning: learning should be joyful and for life, not just for tests. -Skills for a Modern World: building the confidence to be leaders and Changemakers. -Holistic Wellbeing: creating conditions to thrive.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Calgary Changemaker School 7000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Langside St./Westminster Ave.
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • $15,450 to $49,440

STEAM and experiential learning are at the heart of our program, making learning at BH both dynamic and meaningful. With a focus on post-secondary guidance and internship, BH girls graduate with purpose.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Balmoral Hall School 15450 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bloor St W/Jane St
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $14,300 to $20,400

Summit Micro School provides a modern curriculum from JK to Grade 8. Reggio Emilia kindergarten and Project and Inquiry Based elementary programs inspire and engage while developing essential 21st Century skills.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Summit Micro School 14300 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • West Vancouver, British Columbia
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $23,800 to $28,150

Collingwood creates opportunities for our JK to Grade 12 students to excel. Our four strand approach is delivered through a comprehensive educational experience that in collaborative, interdisciplinary and relevant.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Collingwood School 23800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Richmond, British Columbia
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $20,700 to $33,400

We emphasize critical thinking, as well as innovation, joy, and curiosity.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
Pythagoras Academy 20700 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bayview Ave/Broadway Ave
  • PS to 3 Coed
  • $9,000 to $23,000

A daily goal is for our children to arrive at school excited for the day ahead. Aside from our excellent academic programs, we plan many fun events for the children to enjoy throughout the school year.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
Children's Garden Nursery School 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
    Lakeshore and/Kipling
  • NS to 3 Coed
  • $13,500

Vincent Massey supports students in reaching their individual potential through a balanced education; setting your child up for success in all avenues of life.

  • Day
  • Reggio Emilia
Vincent Massey Academy 13500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $6,000 to $12,000

At Polaris artistic expression, practical skills & movement are interwoven into academic subjects. Learning becomes an engaging journey of discovery of the world and of oneself through hands-on and experiential learning.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Polaris School and Centre 6000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bayview/Eglinton
  • PS to 4 Coed
  • $11,000 to $23,700

Diverse, warm community. Small classes. Exceptional phonics program to build early literacy. Collaborative, multi-strategy approach to math. Public speaking, the arts, outdoor ed, mindfulness, community engagement.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Reggio Emilia
CGS (Children's Garden School) 11000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
    Royal York Road/Dundas Street West
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $28,140 to $31,290

KCS is a diverse, engaged community of lifelong learners. Together, we are redefining what’s possible within our distinct culture of caring, respect, and curiosity.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Kingsway College School 28140 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed
  • Guelph, Ontario
    Victoria Rd N/Woodlawn Rd E
  • K to 8 Coed
  • $5,936 to $13,941

Trillium provides a comprehensive, vibrant and academically vigorous Waldorf education. Students are welcomed into a warm environment with teachers who care deeply for them, and support their holistic development.

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Trillium Waldorf School 5936 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Burlington, Ontario
    Appleby Line/Upper Middle Road
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $10,500 to $17,600

Halton Waldorf School offers an education that fosters confidence, independence and intelligence. Located on five forested acres, the school has been uniquely designed to support the goals of Waldorf education. Est 1984

  • Day
  • Waldorf
Halton Waldorf School 10500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bathurst St./Eglinton Ave. West
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • $15,500 to $17,500

NOW WITH LICENSED DAYCARE! Bring your child for a free trial to let him or her experience the difference. Don't be surprised if he or she doesn't want to go home at the end of the day! SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS AVAILABLE!

  • Day
  • Montessori
  • Waldorf
Alive Montessori & Private School 15500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Donald St/Frances St
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,700 to $11,200

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Academie Providence 9700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $9,132 to $19,250

Oak Learners inspires meaningful learning every day for students in Kindergarten through Grade Eight. Passionate teachers nurture children’s natural curiosity about their world with hands-on experiences.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Oak Learners 9132 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Aurora, Ontario
    Wellington/Yonge
  • 1 to 8 Coed
  • $500 to $18,500

First school of its kind in the world. We are unique in everything we do. It is time for thinking outside of the box and raising a new generation of leaders, innovaters, inventors and entrepreneurs.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Waldorf
Agora Prep 500 Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Victoria, British Columbia
    Feltham/Tyndall
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $1,600 to $6,250

ArtsCalibre Academy empowers students through creativity, mindfulness and leadership. We offer comprehensive educational programs for Preschool through Grade 12.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
ArtsCalibre Academy 1600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

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