Education & Enrichment Health & Wellness Kids Living In Hong Kong Schools

Kindergarten approaches explained

Preschools – also known as kindergartens – in Hong Kong have different educational approaches. Visit a few before deciding which approach is best suited to your child’s temperament and interests. In this article, we share a brief explanation of some learning approaches you’ll find at international kindergartens in Hong Kong.

Click below to listen to our “Schools in Hong Kong” podcast episode about what to look for in an international kindergarten in Hong Kong. We interviewed an expert in early childhood who has led preschool initiatives across the globe and is now Vice Principal at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong.

preschool learning approaches, Hong Kong, young children
Remember back in the day when playschool was just playschool?

Play-based Approach

Play is the most natural way for young children to learn. Learning involves long, uninterrupted periods of open-ended play where children follow their own interests. At some international kindergartens in Hong Kong, children are encouraged to initiate activities and be self-directed with the teachers’ support. When children play, they are also exploring and enhancing their ability to tackle problems, be independent, socialise, develop knowledge and self-esteem, develop fine and gross motor skills, and develop skills in language, literacy, maths and science.

Project Approach

The Project Approach is a hands-on, interactive style of education that builds on children’s natural curiosity, enabling them to interact, question, connect and problem-solve, communicate and reflect. In international kindergartens in Hong Kong, this approach focuses on active participation in real learning based on children’s interests and abilities. Projects do not constitute the whole curriculum but are used in conjunction with more traditional teaching methods.


An education approach develop by Italian Maria Montessori in the early 1900s that cultivates a child’s own natural desire to learn and absorb information. Montessori education is characterised by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. The curriculum is broad-based and covers exercises of practical life, sensorial materials, language, mathematics, cultural studies, sciences, and development of social behaviour and physical activity. Classrooms provide a prepared environment where everything children come in contact with facilitates and maximises independent learning and exploration.

Waldorf Education

Waldorf, or Steiner, education is a humanistic approach to education based on the philosophy of Austrian Rudolf Steiner. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic and conceptual elements. The approach emphasises the role of the imagination in learning, developing both creative and analytical thinking. In early childhood, learning is largely experiential, imitative and sensory, with an emphasis on learning through practical activities.

Reggio Emilia Approach

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. The villagers around Reggio Emilia in Italy started this approach after WWII. They created a self-guided curriculum guided by the principles of respect, responsibility and community. This is done through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on each child’s interests. Parents are a vital component of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. They are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children.

Want to know more about international kindergarten in Hong Kong? See more in our
 Kids section:

Expat’s guide to international schools in Hong Kong
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