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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"Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything.

  1. Signature Programs in Global Citizenship, STEM & Robotics, Active Healthy Living, Arts & Design
  2. Professional Internship Customized for Each Girl (Grade 11)
  3. Focus on whole girl and student wellbeing
  4. Enriched curriculum, Advanced Placement, DELF

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $26,187 to $33,602
 
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St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School 26187 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls

Kingsway College School


Etobicoke, Ontario
Royal York Road/Dundas Street West
 
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"Kingsway College School's (KCS) goal is to provide environments where a student’s wellness is supported as they become lifelong learners who are good people. Spend an hour at KCS to see how we do this every day.

  1. School-wide focus on our Three School Rules: Respect, Manners and Try Your Best
  2. Dedicated attention to well-being
  3. Project-based and S.T.E.A.M learning
  4. Rich Arts program including drama, music, visual arts, and Artist-in-Residence

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $29,890 to $32,855
 
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Kingsway College School 29890 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed

Hudson College


Toronto, Ontario
Dufferin/St. Clair Ave. West
 
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"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.

  1. 4.5-acre campus with full-size turf field
  2. Reggio Emilia approach in JK–Grade 1
  3. Before/after-school care up to Grade 5
  4. Hot lunch program, prepared in-house

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $19,000 to $21,500
 
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Hudson College 19000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Bayview Glen


Toronto, Ontario
Don Mill Rd/York Mills Rd
 
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"Bayview Glen is co-ed, multi-denominational and diverse. Our student, faculty and staff community mirror the diversity of Toronto. Our culture is one of balance and openness, and embraces different perspectives.

  1. 2 years to Grade 12
  2. Enriched academics and individualized curriculum
  3. Advanced Placement programme
  4. Tablet programme

—From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $20,950 to $31,050
  • Day school
  • 1124 students
 
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Bayview Glen 20950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Spadina/St Clair Ave W
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $37,500 to $72,400
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The Bishop Strachan School 37500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls
Victoria, British Columbia
Richmond Rd/McRae Ave
 
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"Independent Junior 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." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $22,050 to $85,060
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St. Michaels University School 22050 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Davenport Rd/Spadina Rd
 
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"Smaller class sizes and our unique curriculum - infused with arts, movement, outdoor education - allow deeper connections across subjects, at all developmental stages. Waldorf education is “schooling with heart"." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $21,700 to $24,700
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Waldorf Academy 21700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Langside St./Westminster Ave.
 
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"Parents trust us to personalize the educational experience of each girl, to care for each girl, to challenge her to grow, to build a supportive community around her, and, most importantly, to prepare her for the future." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $17,850 to $74,650
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Balmoral Hall School 17850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
Richmond Hill, Ontario
 
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"Richland Academy is a progressive, innovative Reggio-inspired and International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP Authorized and MYP Candidate School for children from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $22,000
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Richland Academy 22000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
W 22nd/Phillip
 
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"As a Reggio Inspired School in North Vancouver, Sunflower engages daily in rigorous reflective practice - collaboratively designing curriculum and environment around the emerging interests and curiosities of the children" —From the school

  • Gr. PS (Coed)
  • Reggio Emilia approach
  • $2,400 to $5,500
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Sunflower Early Learning Society 2400 Preschool Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bayview/Eglinton
 
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"Diverse, warm community. Exceptional phonics program to build early literacy. Collaborative, multi-strategy approach to math. Public speaking, the arts, outdoor ed, mindfulness, community engagement." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 3 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $12,500 to $26,400
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CGS (Children's Garden School) 12500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bathurst St./Eglinton Ave. West
 
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"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!" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum; Waldorf
  • $15,500 to $17,500
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Alive Montessori & Private School 15500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Bloor/Shaver
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 5 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $7,500 to $13,000
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Kingsley Primary School 7500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $16,900 to $19,250
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Oak Learners 16900 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Winnipeg, Manitoba
South Dr/North Dr
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $26,670 to $72,000
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St. John's-Ravenscourt School 26670 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Leslie/16th Ave
 
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"Morningside/ABA based curriculum and individualized approach targets not only academic success but also emotional, social, vocational and life skills that are the core skills of life-long success of each student." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $17,000 to $25,000
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AIM Without Limits 17000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Thornhill, Ontario
Bathurst St/Rutherford Rd
 
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"Toronto Waldorf School offers a curriculum that integrates academics, arts and movement while addressing the intellectual, physical, emotional and social aspects of child development from preschool to gr. 12." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $18,000 to $21,000
  • Day school
  • 360 students
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Toronto Waldorf School 18000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Newmarket, Ontario
Mulock Drive/Bayview Avenue
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $36,300 to $78,300
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Pickering College 36300 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Lakeshore and/Kipling
 
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"Vincent Massey supports students in reaching their individual potential through a balanced education; setting your child up for success in all avenues of life." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $15,000 to $21,800
  • Day school
  • 230 students
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Vincent Massey Academy 15000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Collingwood’s personalized and inclusive approach fosters academic excellence and well-being as our students explore opportunities across the four strands--academics, athletics, arts and service learning." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $25,100 to $29,450
  • Day school
  • 1256 students
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Collingwood School 25100 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Burlington, Ontario
Appleby Line/Upper Middle Road
 
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"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" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $14,360 to $19,360
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Halton Waldorf School 14360 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Bayview Ave/Broadway Ave
 
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"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." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 2 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $8,500 to $24,000
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Children's Garden Nursery School 8500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Richmond, British Columbia
 
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"We emphasize critical thinking, as well as innovation, joy, and curiosity." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $21,400 to $34,500
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Pythagoras Academy 21400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
 
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"Calgary Waldorf School’s rich and engaging curriculum carefully balances academic, artistic and practical activities to stimulate intelligence and encourage creativity." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 9 (Coed)
  • Waldorf curriculum
  • $3,890 to $14,850
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Calgary Waldorf School 3890 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Markham, Ontario
Woodbine Av./Hwy 7
 
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"Since 2002, J. Addison has provided a stimulating education for students. Located at the corner of Woodbine and Valleywood Drive in Markham, ON, Canada, you will find our state-of-the-art 58,000 sq. ft. facility." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Reggio Emilia curriculum
  • $19,000 to $50,200
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J. Addison School 19000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed

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