comparison of Reggio Emilia and Montessori

Reggio Emilia is it the same as Montessori?

Reggio Emilia vs Montessori
Reggio Emilia vs Montessori

Choosing a school for your child is a big decision and it includes thinking about what system of early education would you prefer for your child. The two most popular systems for children between the ages of four months to five years are Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches. Which is the best for your child depends on the methodology you would prefer. Both the systems are child-centric, nurturing and have alternative approaches to education.

Importance of Early Education and approach of Reggio Emilia

The learning a child receives in the early years, which is, from birth to five years of age, sets the foundations for the rest of their lives. This is the stage when the brain of the child grows the most and they learn the most. They do this by observing, hearing, copying, and adopting the behaviors of people they are surrounded by. Hence, parents of young children and infants need to ensure that the exposure that their child receives is positive and will help to satisfy the child’s curiosity and build up its confidence. To fulfill this purpose, it is advisable that all children receive some pre-nursery and nursery education. This is why you must consider the options carefully before you choose the Reggio Emilia or Montessori approach.

Advantages of Early Childhood Education

It has been observed that early childhood education helps a child to adapt better as they grow up and transition to regular school. The advantages of early years foundation system include:

Social skills: Children learn to interact with other kids which lays the foundation for social behavior. The child comes in contact with not just other children but other adults, beyond their own family and friend circles. This interaction helps them to acquire vital skills of communication and form lasting relationships. They learn the values of living in a society where cooperation, sharing, and helping are essential.

Communication: The children learn to communicate and pick up language skills that will help them in later years. It also helps to improve their vocabulary and vocal skills.

Discovering Interests and Talents: Nursery and playschools help to identify your child’s interests and talents at an early stage.

Exposure to Diversity: Children come into contact with other children and adults from different backgrounds, ethnicity, race, religion, etc. It sensitizes them towards the diversity of the human race and economic conditions.

Montessori or Reggio Emilia: Which to choose

Both Reggio Emilia and Montessori systems are excellent options for parents who are looking for a unique and alternative approach to schooling, especially at the early year foundation stage (EYFS). While there are many similarities between the two systems, their approach to EYFS is different. You need to be aware of the approach to learning of both systems to be able to make an informed choice. We have given a comparison of the two systems below to help make that decision easier for you.

Montessori System

It was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in Rome, Italy where the first Montessori school was opened in 1907. The system is based on the idea that children learn from their atmosphere and surroundings. They are capable of absorbing information through exploration and self-direction.

Reggio Emilia System

The post-war scenario in Italy needed a rethinking of the traditional methods of childcare. Lori Malaguzzi, a teacher with the help of the parents of the city of Reggio Emilia set up a system that helped to take care of the children while allowing the parents to go to work. Reggio Emilia’s system is also child-centric and believes that each child is unique. It lets the child explore its environment and learn via play, socio-cultural learning, and interdependence.

Comparison of Reggio Emilia and Montessori

While both the systems are child-centric and believe that children can learn via self-exploration, there are a few differences in the methodology of the two. Both the systems have a holistic approach to knowledge acquisition by children but follow different paths to the same goal.

Let us look at the major differences between the two systems.

Curriculum: There is a curriculum that is followed in the Montessori system. This includes maths, languages, social sciences, etc. In the Reggio Emilia system, there is no preset curriculum. They developed the lessons based on classroom interest and response. The activities are generally project-based while the lessons are engineered to suit the interests of the class in general.

Classroom Setting: The classroom in the Montessori system has certain learning material combined with space to allow children to pursue their interests. The classrooms have a mix of floor space and tables and chairs. On the other hand, the Reggio Emilia system divides the classroom space between different sizes of groups.

Role of Teacher: The role of the teacher in the Montessori system is unobtrusive. They direct the learning process without too much interference. In contrast, the Reggio Emilia system the teacher’s role is more proactive. They have to perform many roles and can be collaborators, co-learners as well as advisors, and observers.

Given below is a table that will allow you to look at the similarities and differences between the two systems at a glance:

Reggio Emilia
Comparison of Reggio Emilia and Montessori


While the two systems may have some similarities, they have varied approaches and their developmental goals for the child differ. You need to decide what qualities you’d like to see inculcated in your child before you pick a school.
Green Grass Nurseries have used multiple approaches in order to yield the best results for each child. In the last 10 years of pre-school teaching, we find the Reggio Emilia method more suited to our own nursery children. Having said that sometimes we adopt a hybrid approach to benefit individual children at certain stages of their development.

If you are in Dubai and looking for a school that follows the Reggio Emilia system, come and talk to us at Green Grass Nurseries we welcome visits from all parents whether or not their child is enrolled with us.

Arwa Naccho
Green Grass Nursery

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