Children's Garden Montessori School

What is Montessori/Reggio

Montessori and Reggio

At Children’s Garden, we strive to build relationships and strengthen connections – between one child and another, between ourselves and the children in our care, between children and their families, between children and the natural world,  and between ourselves and others who might look different, speak differently, or come from far away.

Daily we search for connections between the two strong educational traditions – that of Maria Montessori and her followers, and the educational philosophy developed by the early childhood programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  We believe our study of these two philosophies has allowed us to use somewhat different vocabulary to describe  similar phenomena. We hope that the process of viewing  young children’s behavior from the different angles suggested by these approaches has enriched and deepened our understanding of what we see.  Sometimes we get confused – that’s OK.  Sometimes we disagree – that’s also OK.  We see ourselves as ongoing learners with the children and parents so this study is stimulating and makes our work more interesting.  Although Maria Montessori would not have advocated this, but because the Montessori pedagogy is so well designed to carry children through an academic curriculum, we have noticed that it’s tempting to push children academically, and our study of Reggio reminds us not to do that.

These are the connections and relationships we have found between Montessori and Reggio:


  • Respect for child paramount to process
  • Similar view of the child – competent, capable, strong, offering a great deal to society
  • Belief in child’s innate desire to learn and grow which compels them to explore, ask questions, listen, try things out, repeat activities, imitate behavior of adults they love
  • Within both practices, teachers base what they do with children on careful observation of children and careful listening
  • Children learn through interaction with a carefully designed environment
  • Although described somewhat differently, we believe both approaches are constructivist in nature.  (Children – humans – construct their understanding of the world through interaction with the environment, which includes people.  Children are not empty vessels which can be filled with knowledge)

Areas from which Montessori teachers can draw inspiration from Reggio philosophy:

  • Emergent curriculum vs. highly developed integrated curriculum
  • Working with small groups of children
  • Embracing ideas from social constructivism – building social skills; learning from each other;
    • Adding careful listening to our careful observation
    • Montessori – didactic materials with specific purpose
    • Idea of many languages which children use to grow and express understanding
    • Strong emphasis on school community and close work with families
    • Strong emphasis on the culture of a school community – knowing strengths, values, hopes and dreams, activities.  That is the context from which our children emerge.
    • Using documentation to enhance our program
    • Beauty and celebration of art within our orderly, functional Montessori environments