We are all more or less aware of kindergarten. Kindergarten covers a huge area of pre-primary or preschool in almost all of the many countries. The concept of kindergarten or the kindergarten system that we get in pedagogy or educational science, undoubtedly has the ability to play an important role in the development of modern education.
What is kindergarten?
Kindergarten is a school or class for young children, usually aged three to six years old, that prepares them for first grade or primary education by developing basic skills and social behavior through games, exercises, music, simple handicrafts, and so on.
In countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany, kindergarten education is usually provided to children under 5 years of age. Normally the age of admission in kindergarten is 4 years but sometimes 3-year or 4-year children go to kindergarten.
Some other definitions of kindergarten
- Kindergarten is a preschool educational approach that emphasizes play, singing, practical activities like drawing, and social interaction as part of the transition from home to school.
- According to Collin’s dictionary, “A kindergarten is an informal kind of school for very young children, where they learn things by playing.”
- According to the Department of Education and Training, State of Victoria, Australia— “Kindergarten is a program for young children delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.”
- According to Lexico, “Kindergarten is an establishment where children below the age of compulsory education play and learn; a nursery school.”
- Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary mentions, “Kindergarten is a school or class for children usually from four to six years old.”
History of Kindergarten
The term ‘kindergarten’ is derived from German. The German word ‘Kinder’ refers to children, and ‘garten’ refers to a garden; so the meaning of kindergarten is ‘garden of children’. The ‘kindergarten’ term was coined in the nineteenth century by a famous German child educator Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel or Fröbel.
German educator Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel and Establishment of kindergarten
Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel was born in Germany in 1782. Friedrich’s mother died when he was nine months old, and his father took over the care of him and his two brothers. His father, on the other hand, was careless with his children and had little time for them. To compensate for the neglect, little Friedrich spent a lot of time alone in the gardens around his house. This activity marked the beginning of his passion for nature, and it would go on to influence the institution for which he is best known.
Froebel began his career as a teacher at the Frankfurt Model School in 1805. This school strictly adhered to the teachings and philosophy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a well-known German educator at the time. Johann’s philosophy advocated for children to participate actively in their education.
When Froebel left the school in 1806, he took this approach with him to become a private teacher to three sons of a Frankfurt noble family. Parents of the children he taught gave him a small plot of land to use as a garden. Between 1808 and 1810, Froebel held numerous teaching sessions with children in his garden.
All of his findings convinced him that the best way to get results from children’s education is to employ Pestalozzi’s direct observation and action approach. This realization inspired him to create a plan for toddler education based on the philosophy of both Pestalozzi and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Froebel founded his educational institution in 1817, but it was not well organised. In 1837, Froebel established the first-ever school for toddlers in Bad Blankenburg, which he initially called the ‘Play and Activity Institute’.
In 1840, Friedrich Froebel established the first kindergarten, Garden of Children. Froebel invented the term kindergarten to represent his vision for early childhood education: “Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and require care, but each is beautiful on its own and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”
Actually Forebel renamed his previous school ‘Play and Activity Institute’ to ‘Kindergarten’.
Friedrich Froebel is called the father of kindergarten and his approach influenced early childhood education around the world.
It should be noted that the German citizen Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel was an intern educator at Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi founded Swiss school and met with other educational thinkers of the time. Froebel dedicated his life to educating children and developing methods to maximize human potential for the next 35 years, until his death in 1852.