It is strictly an early childhood education approach.
Reggio Emilia values "the potential of all children to think, learn, and construct knowledge." Like Montessori Reggio Emilia is a progressive, child-centered approach to education. The idea is that the child must be free to discover and to learn for himself.
It is not a formal, doctrinaire approach.
Unlike the Waldorf and Montessori schools there is no formal teacher training, credentialing and authorization process for Reggio Emilia. The idea is that teachers and parents take the concepts learned by observation and interaction with Reggio Emilia and incorporate them into their classrooms. There is no such thing as a Reggio school. The only Reggio schools are those in the municipality of Reggio Emilia. All other schools which embrace the Reggio philosophy are considered to be "Reggio inspired".
It grew out of the aftermath of World War II.
Much of Italy lay in ruins after World War II. In Reggio Emilia a young teacher by the name of Loris Malaguzzi developed an approach which valued the ability of children to learn spontaneously. The relationship of child, parent and teacher is integral to Malaguzzi approach. The Reggio and Steiner (Waldorf) schools both arose as the result of the aftermath of armed conflict and the need to rebuild society.
Reggio Children is the organization which promotes the Reggio approach.
Reggio Children is the formal entity which was founded in 1994. It is headquartered in the municipality of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The ownership is split with 51% of the shares held by the municipality. It offers training materials and courses designed to promote the Reggio approach throughout Italy and the world. It is affiliated with and draws support from dozens of national organizations in countries throughout the world.
It is an international movement.
Reggio started in a town in Italy in the 1940s. It has now spread worldwide. In North American Reggio is promoted and supported by the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance. It sponsors The Hundred Languages of Children, a traveling exhibit which explains the Reggio approach. For information on hosting the exhibit contact Judith Allen Kaminsky