This method was developed by Dr Montessori, following his observation that, “Individual activity is one of the factors that stimulates and produces development” (Montessori, 1995, p. 8).
Therefore, the foundation of this approach is based on observation and experimentation (Seldin & Epstein, 2003). In other words, this method is based on independent learning and colorful manipulation materials are the tools of facilitation (Giermaine, 2008). Montessori approach is mainly characterized by the readiness to face difficulties of transformation, as well as autonomy and know-how.
A Montessori classroom consists of methods such as high level responsibilities, skill enhancement, restoration of order and caring of the classroom surroundings. On the other hand, activities associated with practical life are the teaching tools. These activities include learning how to care for the community, through courteous and supportive actions, as well as altruistic and empathy behaviors.
The Reggio Emilia approach focuses on relationship, problem solving and experimental learning. The role of the teacher includes provision of materials, support and facilitation of learning. This concept is referred to as emergent curriculum, since the program of study is derived from the children’s interests (Baxter & Petty, 2008).
Some of the most fundamental aspects of Reggio approach include the ability of a teacher to pay attention to children, understanding of the children’s interests, provision for the potential of learning, and documentation of the whole process (Walsh & Petty, 2007).
Documentation of the children’s activities is done through recording the videos and taking the pictures. The documentation allows children and their teachers to reflect on their findings and discuss how to re-examine and improve them. Family members as well as their parents benefit from the documentation, since they can monitor the progress of their children and share ideas with them. Participation of the community influences development of policy by the concerned authority.
The role of the parents is likened to that of the community at the class level as well as the school’s wide level. It is very important that parents and other members of a child’s family contribute their views on issues concerned with successful progress of child when undergoing early education, the rules that govern the child while at school, evaluation and planning of child’s study program (Baxter & Petty, 2008).
Just like Montessori, Reggio Emilia approach values various materials, which are usually treated as the ‘third teacher’. However, the are different ways to use the materials. In Montessori, the teacher uses the materials to take definite steps in learning, and these materials have no other meaning apart from education of a child. In addition, Reggio materials possess self defining and experimental meaning. As such, children can select them, grant them an original meaning and communicate with their environment.
The other difference between Reggio and Montessori approaches is the method used to teach children. In Montessori, the idea of project or the project itself is presented by a teacher, and the way this is done depends on the lesson plan. In Reggio, development of projects is a partnership between a teacher and a child. Teacher recognizes ideas children have and takes them very seriously. Children are very helpful in project development. For instance, they play a crucial role in ensuring that the projects are successful (Giermaine, 2008).
Baxter, V. & Petty, K. (2008). Preschool curricula: Finding one that fits. Texas Child Care, 32(2), 34-39.
Giermaine, J. (2008). The materials are not the ‘Method’. In Special issue, Tomorrow’s Child: 27-28.
Montessori, M. (1995). The absorbent mind. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
Seldin, T. & Epstein, P. (2003). The Montessori way: An education for life. Sarasota, FL: The Montessori Foundation Press.
Walsh, B. A. & Petty, K. (2007). Frequency of six early childhood approaches: A 10-year content analysis of Early Childhood Education Journal. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(5), 301-305.