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Friedrich Froebel 1782-1852 Educator, Author

In 1837, after years of trying to establish better schools for children, Froebel founded the first Child Nurture and Activity Institute, or Kindergarten. This school was designed for infants, reflecting Froebelıs belief that an improvement to infant education was necessary for educational reform. In spite of Prussian government opposition to kindergarten, the idea spread throughout Europe, effecting a lasting change to childrenıs education.

April 21 - Kindergarten Day

Kindergarten Day observes the anniversary of Fredrich Froebel, who established the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837. He recognized the importance of play, creative self-expression, and interaction in a young child's educational development.


a form of preschool education in which children are taught through creative play, social interaction, and natural expression. Originated in Germany in 1837 by Friedrich Froebel, kindergarten was based on the idea that children's play was significant. Froebel employed games, songs, and stories to address the needs of small children (ages three to seven). The kindergarten served as a transitional stage from home to school. In 1861 American educator Elizabeth Palmer Peabody opened one of the first kindergartens in the United States in Boston. By the 1920s kindergartens were included in public schools in most parts of the United States.

Inventing Kindergarten

Invented in the 1830s by German educator Friedrich Froebel, kindergarten was designed to teach young children about art, design, mathematics, and natural history. Inventing Kindergarten uses extraordinary visual materials to reconstruct this successful system, which grew to become a familiar institution throughout the world by the end of the 19th century.

FROEBEL, Friedrich (1782-1852)

Not until the great German educator Froebel was 50 years old did he find his real lifework, the kindergarten.

All I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand box at nursery school.

These are the things I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why. We are like that.

And then remember that book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK! Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology, and politics and the sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Robert Fulghum

In contrast to other school rooms, this one was brightly decorated.

Children were encouraged to learn through guided exploration. Blow's classroom was visited by educators from all over the U.S. Her work changed education forever. Blow's book, Educational Issues in the Kindergarten, explains Froebel's creed "that man is a self-creative being . . . education shall encourage self expression . . . encouragement shall be given only to those modes of self-expression which are related to the values of human life . . ."

Susan Elizabeth Blow, born in 1843, was raised in an elegant home in Carondolet. Her education was typical for a young lady of the time. She attended school off and on, practiced reading by using the Bible and books from her father's library, tutored her younger sisters and brothers, spoke French with her governesses, and finally went east to a finishing school for girls. When her father was appointed Minister to Brazil immediately after the Civil War had Susan traveled with him. Then, with her family, she went to Europe. In Germany, she learned about the early childhood work of Friedrich Froebel, an educational reformer.

Froebel, Friedrich Wilhelm August 1782-1852,

German educator and founder of the KINDERGARTEN system. (In an educational situation less formal than elementary school, children's play instincts are organized constructively through songs, stories, games, simple materials, and group activities, to develop habits of cooperation and application. In the U.S. kindergartens are generally part of the public school system. The first American kindergarten was established in 1856, the first public kindergarten in 1873.) Having little formal schooling himself, he stressed pleasant surroundings, self-directed activity, and physical training for children. Influenced by SCHELLING, (whose concept of art as the unity of the natural and the spiritual was a bridge between German idealism and romanticism) Froebel also insisted upon spiritual training as a fundamental principle. He founded (1816) the Universal German Educational Institute to train teachers and opened the first kindergarten in 1837. The most important of his several books on education is The Education of Man (1826).

A Fresh Look at an Old Perspective

It seems to me that we need to look at early childhood education from a different perspective--the one held by those who first proposed the idea of educating young children outside the home. Frederick Froebel (1893) created the first kindergarten and introduced the idea that play was the young child's natural mode of learning and self-expression.

For her part, Maria Montessori (1964) fervently believed that even three- and four-year-old children could profit from an educational program outside the home. She described these children as being in a "sensitive period" for development of their sensory and motor abilities, for which she prescribed a wide array of manipulative tasks.

Unfortunately, the social and political upheavals of the 1960s have distorted Froebel's and Montessori's conceptions of early childhood education. Today their views are being placed further at risk by the growing use of technology. Computers, unlike teaching machines and other educational fads, are here to stay. But young children's facility with computers should not be misread. They may be able to "point and click" without really understanding all they are doing. We need to remember that computers deal with symbols, and young children need hands-on experience before symbols have meaning for them. Without seeing "red" or tasting "sweet," a child can have no understanding of what these words symbolize.

We need to move away from the idea that the first years of life are a time for intervention and school readiness. Early childhood is a stage of life that should be considered on its own terms, not as preparation for later stages. If we think of early childhood in this way, we will create kindergarten and first-grade environments that are flexible, activity-oriented, and filled with plants and animals. Such environments liberate young children's abilities and provide them opportunities to experience the special pleasures--as well as the awful fears--that are unique to this stage of life.

Kindergarten Adventures

Friedrich Frobel, patriarch of the modern kindergarten, was an educational philosopher. Froebel built his concept around children exploring, questioning, and touching dirt, grass, plants, ......the world. It was through these young learners interaction with their world that they began to develop an indepth view of the world around them.

Kindergarten: The Bridge

Kindergarten originated in Germany during the nineteenth century. Friedrich Wilhelm Froebel developed the class to help kids negotiate the bridge between family and community life. He conceived of the year as the initial socialization to schooling and the time to develop the groundwork for learning.

Kindergarten also give children a broad exposure to mathematical concepts. They need opportunities to explore spacial concepts, patterns, sorting and categorizing, and the notion of numbers.

Children learn about being a member of a group and a part of a community of learners. They have the opportunity to help others, take responsibility for themselves, and acquire persistence.

Froebel was a nineteenth-century German educator who is responsible for originating the idea of the kindergarten. In the kindergarten, Froebel focused on play as a child's work. Froebel felt that curriculum should not be imposed on children but should rather issue forth from children's unique interests. For the purpose of teaching and instruction is to bring ever more out of man rather than to put more into him; for that which we can get into man we already know and possess as the property of mankind . . . On the other hand what yet is to come out of mankind, what human nature is yet to develop, that we do not yet know. From Froebel we learn to honor the child's interest as the driving force of the curriculum.