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
Dr. Montessori never trademarked the name Montessori nor did she claim any patents on her methodology. The result is that there are many Montessori schools out there claiming to be the real thing. Some schools may include elements of Dr. Montessori's methods and philosophy in their teaching. Other schools quietly sublimate the parts of Dr. Montessori's thinking which aren't perhaps appropriate in their setting. In short, there almost as many flavors of Montessori as there are schools. Not a bad thing in itself, but as always, do your due diligence. Caveat emptor!
What did these educators have in common? They believed that children deserved to be children and have fun learning. The Froebel gifts are all about childish fun and play. At the root of these wholesome activities are a basic child-rearing concept: encourage a child's creativity, stimulate his imagination and allow him to explore. Long before Fisher-Price toys appeared on the market, Maria Montessori used natural wooden toys to teach shapes and geometric concepts. Steiner kept academics out of the early childhood education experience preferring instead to have children engage in activities appropriate to their tender years.
In a time and society where many parents fret about the kind of start their children are receiving as they begin school, it is important to realize that basics are important. Let your child progress at his own pace within the warm, cheerful environment of a well-run primary school. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten build on those first years spent under your watchful, loving eye.They