Montessori & Reggio Emilia Approach - What are the differences?

The key words to describe the MONTESSORI approach may be; individual, sequential, ordered, predetermined, methodical, controlled, structured, expected, and predictable. The key words to describe the REGGIO EMILIA approach may be; community, collaborative, cooperative, social, open-ended, expressive, creative, flexible, spontaneous, fluid and freely expressive.

The teaching and learning styles are different- MONTESSORI has a pre-determined curriculum and materials are set up by the teacher, with the information flowing from the teacher to the children. REGGIO-inspired learning is determined by the children and teachers (Educators) in collaboration the ideas flowing between children and Educators it is an expressive approach; problem solving and ideas are explored through the child-teacher-parent interaction.

MONTESSORI classroom walls are traditionally bare and visually quiet to focus the children’s attention and on the resources available. REGGIO EMILIA classroom walls are filled with documents of the children’s explorations and experiences. Photos and written records document the children’s learning. The walls are used as a tool of reflection and used by the children, parents and teachers.

The visual arts of clay, paint, collage, drawing, wire and the verbal arts of music, dance, movement, drama are not such a priority in the MONTESSORI classroom. In REGGIO, these are vessels for expression and are seen as languages of the child – a hundred, thousand languages, giving children a vehicle for expression and development.

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The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred ways of listening of marveling, of loving a hundred joys for singing and understanding a hundred worlds to discover a hundred worlds to invent a hundred worlds to dream.

The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child: to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak to understand without joy to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child: to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth reason and dream are things that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there. The child says: No way. The hundred is there.

Poem by Loris Malaguzzi Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

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