Montessori vs Reggio Emilia Approach

It is every parent’s aspiration to provide their child with a proper, well-rounded educational experience. 

It can be quite intimidating and perplexing at first to choose an educational institution for a child when one does not know where to begin.


Education for developing minds should be structured and designed with immense research and must facilitate every aspect of the child development process.


While traditional educational institutions often limit the child’s educational experience to mere textbooks, desks, chairs, and basic curricula, there are a plethora of educational approaches that go beyond standardized curricula.

The Montessori method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach are two unique pedagogical approaches that act as a great alternative to standardized means of education. 

Both pedagogical philosophies are based on constructive, auto-didactic, self-pacing educational experiences that promote hands-on learning. 

Although these theories are developed by two distinguished Italian females, the two widely accepted pedagogical approaches have both similarities and dissimilarities. 

If you are a parent, educator, or an immediate caregiver who wants to enroll your child in either of the said educational institutions, appropriate research is requisite. 

So look no further, here is everything you should know about Montessori Method and Reggio Emilia Approach to help you distinguish between the two.

What is the Montessori Method of Education?

Developed by an Italian Physician Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907, this scientific approach changed the preschool education system.

The Montessori Method of education is a multi-age-level pedagogical approach that develops pupils’ natural interests in the classroom, unlike other conventional teaching institutions. 

The Montessori method of teaching is a child-centered educational approach that focuses on auto-didactic and hands-on learning. 

This method of education was designed to facilitate the development of independence and confidence in children along with cognitive development. 

Children in Montessori schools are provided with Montessori Materials which help in cognitive and sensory development

The Montessori Method of education is based on hands-on learning and self-directed collaborative play that helps children learn and grow at their own pace.

What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

After the conclusion of World War II Loris Malaguzzi, an Italian woman developed a pedagogical philosophy based on the surrounding area of Reggio Emilia, Italy. 

The Reggio Emilia Educational approach is meant for children at primary and preschool levels. 

This pedagogy is a child-centric approach that acknowledges the child’s inner potential and provides children with a self-guided, constructivist curriculum. 

The Reggio Emilia Pedagogy has based on the brief that each child is a competent, capable, and strong-willed individual who should have free reign over their creativity. 

The student-centric constructivist curriculum is often based on the interests of the pupils that allow them to relate their experiences to the surrounding environments.

What are the similarities between The Montessori Method and Reggio Emilia Approach?

The commonalities and similarities between the Montessori Method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach go beyond being great unconventional alternatives for standardized educational approaches. 

Here is a list of similarities between The Montessori method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach:

1. Child-Centered:

Both the Montessori Method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach are child-centered pedagogical tools. 

Both the educational philosophies allow children to indulge in auto-didactic learning that allows them to achieve an intimate knowledge of the concepts. 

The Montessori Method and Reggio Emilia Approach allow children to learn at their own pace and are treated as individuals, unlike traditional standardized educational methods.

2. Learning Environments:

 Children in both the Montessori Method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach are provided with unique prepared environments that cater to their needs as well as requirements. 

Each element in the educational environment incorporates a wide range of materials and apparatus that encourage children to become seekers of knowledge. 

3. Sensorial Experiences:

Another commonality between the two educational approaches is the concept of sensory training and sensorial stimulation. 

Both the Montessori Method of education and The Reggio Emilia Approach incorporate specifically designed materials that promote the stimulation of all the senses. 

These unique multisensory experiences can often act as tangible or concrete representations of complex concepts that allow children to comprehend concepts.

What are the differences between The Montessori Method and The Reggio Emilia Approach?

Although both The Montessori Method of education and Reggio Emilia are constructivist approaches, they have significant differences in terms of the structure of curriculum and classroom setup. 

Here is a list of dissimilarities or differences between the Montessori Method of education and The Reggio Emilia Approach:

1. Group learning vs. Individual learning:

While The Montessori Method of education focuses on the individual development of the pupil, The Reggio Emilia Approach takes the progress of the collective classroom into account. 

The Montessori Method of education promotes individual sensorial experiences, The Reggio Emilia Approach, on the contrary, promotes collaborative group-based project learning. 

2. Artistic contribution:

Dr. Maria Montessori developed a systematic art-based curriculum that promotes children to have free reign of their creative imagination. 

The Montessori Method of Education promotes children to acquire artistic skills such as color mixing or ceramic. 

The Reggio Emilia Approach uses art as a medium for learning basic curriculum concepts. 

Children in the Reggio Emilia Approach are promoted to use artistic methods such as clay modeling or painting to express their views on different topics. 

3. Use of Materials:

Montessori Materials are an innovative and interactive aspect of the Montessori method of education. 

These Materials were meticulously designed to facilitate sensorial stimulation, physical development, and cognitive development for the developing minds. Montessori Materials are manufactured from naturally sourced materials like wood, steel, glass, bamboo, and cotton. 

The Montessori Materials are exciting, engaging, and easy to maneuver and often are regarded as an integral part of the Montessori curriculum

The Montessori Materials are introduced to children in a sequence that promotes gradual understanding of complex concepts.

The Reggio Emilia Approach incorporates a diverse range of materials that unlike the Montessori method of education do not follow basic procedures. 

The Reggio Emilia Approach is a play-based education that allows children to fully explore the use of the materials on the basis of their curiosity.

Comparison between The Montessori Method and The Reggio Emilia Approach:

After taking the commonalities and differences between the two pedagogical approaches into account, one should always compare the features of each pedagogy to know which educational approach is suitable for their child’s requirements. 

Here is a table delineating the comparisons between the Montessori Method and the Reggio Emilia Approach:

The Montessori MethodThe Reggio Emilia Approach
Predetermined succession, curriculum, and materialsThe curriculum, succession, and materials are based on the child’s curiosity and capability.
Developed for age range between infancy to 18 yearsDeveloped for students between the ages of 2 to 6 years 
The teacher is an observer and a directressThe teacher is a collaborative element or a co-learner
Multi-age level classroomsMulti-age level classrooms
Structured and systematic environment specifically designed to provide adequate sensory stimulationThe classroom environment in itself is a facilitator of education 
Children are encouraged to use materials in a systematic procedureChildren are allowed to use materials based on their curiosity. 
Children are promoted to work at their own individual paceChildren are promoted to work as a unit in a small group
Promotes individual development and a strong sense of self-explorationPromotes the development of a sense of community

The Montessori Method or Reggio Emilia Approach: Which one is meant for your child?

During the early stages of development, it is the parent’s responsibility to choose the best educational setup for their children.

The Montessori Method of education and the Reggio Emilia Approach are two eccentric pedagogies that promote optimum development in children.

Both the Montessori Method and Reggio Emilia Approach are pedagogical tools that provide children with a systematically designed environment and specifically developed materials.

However, along with similarities, the two pedagogical tools also have their own unique characteristics that set them apart. The key differences between the Montessori Method and The Reggio Emilia Approach are essentially found in the classroom.

While the Montessori Method of focuses on the individual development of the learners, the Reggio Emilia Approach focuses on the development process of the entire classroom.

After taking the similarities and dissimilarities between the two educational approaches into account, parents can easily determine which approach is best suited for their child’s development process.