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The Invention of Kindergarten

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

At Eduplay Childcare Westgate, we nurture children to love learning through stimulating and fun experiences.

We view play as a fundamental part of a child’s development. In this aspect, part of our philosophy is based on Friedrich Fröbel, the inventor of Kindergarten in 1940.

It was in Germany in 1837 when Friedrich Froebel founded his own school and called it “kindergarten,” translated to English this is “children’s garden”. He believed young children needed their own environment to learn in that was separate to adults. Friedrich Froebel and the Invention of Kindergarten was ground-breaking at the time and took a while to be accepted.  Frobel explained his method as an opportunity for young children to look with their own eyes and to learn by their own experience.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Teacher and children

Froebel understood that play was an integral part of how a child learned and developed. He believed that children were naturally creative beings and that play allowed for the ‘whole child’ to be educated. While play-based learning is a central part of many pre-schools today, this was a radical concept in the 18th century.  Friedrich Froebel believed that all humans are essentially productive and creative – and that personal fulfillment comes through developing these in harmony with God and the world.

The Gifts

Froebel created an activity-based approach to his kindergarten curriculum that included physical activities, the arts, nature-play and structured learning experiences with manipulative materials that he called ‘Gifts”.

The Gifts were a set of six objects that included wool, wooden cubes, cylinders and clay that aimed to support the development of abstract thinking. These gifts have been widely imitated and adapted by educators and toy makers ever since.

The wooden blocks could be used to teach numeracy and counting, then the same blocks could be used to build a house, allowing children to learn about concepts such as height and size. Finally, the block house could be used as an element in story to teach literacy and language skills.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - wooden letters

Friedrich Froebel & The Principles of Kindergarten

  • recognition of the uniqueness of each child’s capacity and potential

  • a holistic view of each child’s development

  • an ecological view of mankind in the natural world

  • a recognition of the integrity of childhood in its own right

  • a recognition of the child as part of the community

Friedrich Froebel & the Method and Practice of Kindergarten

  • knowledgeable and appropriately qualified teachers and nursery nurses

  • awareness that skilled and informed observation of children underpins effective teaching and learning

  • use of first-hand experience, play, talk and reflection as media for learning

  • activities which have sense, purpose and meaning for the child, and involve joy, wonder, concentration, and satisfaction

  • a holistic approach to learning which recognises children as active, feeling and thinking human beings, seeing patterns, and making connections with their own lives

  • encouragement rather than punishment

  • individual and collaborative activity and play

  • development of children’s independence and sense of mastery, building on what children are good at

  • development of all faculties and abilities of each child: imaginative, creative, linguistic, mathematical, musical, aesthetic, scientific, physical, social, moral, cultural, and spiritual

  • a recognition that parents and educators work in harmony and partnership

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Baby Reading a Book

The Environment

  • be physically safe but intellectually challenging, promoting curiosity, enquiry, sensory stimulation, and aesthetic awareness

  • combine indoors and outdoors, the cultural and the natural

  • provide free access to a rich range of materials that promote open-ended opportunities for play, representation, and creativity

  • demonstrate the nursery to be an integral part of the community it serves, working in close partnership with parents and other skilled adults

  • be educative rather than merely amusing or occupying

  • promote interdependence as well as independence, community as well as individuality and responsibility as well as freedom

The book Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman can be found here.


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