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About Reggio Emilia Approach


Reggio Emilia Approach was developed by an Italian educator Loris Malaguzzi, who was a teacher himself, and the parents of the village around Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War II. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of principles:

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;

  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing;

  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and

  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.


An important principle of Reggio education is the "hundred languages" of children. Malaguzzi described children as having one hundred ways of thinking and learning, through work as well as play, through creativity, through science as well as imagination, fantasy as well as reality, and so on.


In the Reggio approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child's learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child's interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning.


Reggio's curriculum is characterized by projects of short term and long term. Teachers plan activities,  projects, and studies in the classroom based on their observation and interaction of children to address their interest and to provoke children's creative thinking.

About Montessori Approach


Montessori Education is an educational approach developed by an Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and characrized by an em phasis on independence, freedom with limits, respect for a child's natural psychological, physical, and social development.  A typical Montessori school has the following elements as essential:

  • Mixed age classrooms with children age 2 1/2 or 3 to 6 years old 

  • Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options. (A prepared environment)

  • A constructivist or discovery model, where students learn from working with materials

  • Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators

  • Freedom of movement within the classroom

  • A trained Montessori teacher


How are the two approaches different and alike?


Both approaches have a similar environment set up which is  aesthetically pleasing. Each child is provided a place to keep her own belongings. Reggio Emilia schools create homelike environments. With the Montessori approach, the environment is prepared with self-correcting materials for work, not play. The Montessori method seeks to support the child in organization, thus pretend play and opportunities to learn creatively from errors are less likely to be seen in a Montessori classroom. Documentation is a major part of the environmental set-up in Reggio Emilia schools. Documentation illustrates both the process and the product. In documentation, the child is seen as an individual but also in relation to a group, with various possibilities for the individual.


Co-construction is strongly emphasized in the Reggio Emilia approach. A child can learn to construct knowledge with peers and adults. Co-construction emphasizes the social nature of such activities in which cognitive conflict is emphasized.


The teachers in these approaches share in common the goals to be nurturers, partners, and guides to children. The Montessori teacher plays the role of unobtrusive director in the classroom as children individually or in small groups engage in self-directed activity. The Reggio teacher artfully balances between engagement and attention (Edwards, 1998). Based on careful and sensitive listening, observation/documentation, and reflection with other adults, the teachers serve as resources and guides to the children.


All these two program models are worthy of respect. To find more information about different approaches by these programs, click the links below to see more.


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