The Reggio Emilia Approach was founded in Reggio Emilia, a small city in northern Italy shortly after World War II. At the time, working parents were looking for a different kind of child care for their children, one that would foster critical thinking and collaboration skills. Loris Malaguzzi joined in the effort and in 1963 Reggio Emilia opened its first municipal preschool. This preschool was the first of several preschools and infant-toddler centers that were funded by the town, and those centers ended up serving around half of the young children in the city by the late 1970’s.
The Montessori method was also founded in Italy, by Dr. Maria Montsessori. In 1907 she opened her first school in Rome where she was a proponent of the idea that children absorb knowledge from their surroundings and are capable of self-directing their education through exploration.
The below video demonstrates the similarities and differences of the two approaches.