A wide array of educational philosophies circulate through the field of early childhood. Some professionals adhere to more of a behaviorist theory approach as developed by John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Others hold to the more unstructured maturationist theory popularised by Maria Montessori. A mix of maturationist and constructionist ideas supply the base theory for the Reggio Emilia approach. Reggio Emilia approach founded by Loris Malaguzzi which was based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum. Additionally, stage theories such as those of Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are used to look at social and emotional development. Currently early childhood education programs teach a mix of theories dominated by the constructivism theory as put forth by Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.
Curriculum programs in early childhood centres are designed to meet the needs of each child. Goals such as building self-esteem which is seen as necessary to future success in schools is seen as an important attribute to nurture and guide. Educators encourage self-confidence, self-discipline, independence and curiosity. A variety of child guided and pedagogical learning experiences are designed to further develop and extend children’s belonging, being and becoming.