The “Father of Kindergarten” By: Hannah J. Anderson In the early years of education Friedrich Froebel once stated: “The longer we consider and examine the present day methods of education, the more clearly we recognise that children lack the care and consideration which would be in accord with their present and future needs, a care which considers equally the child's mental and physical needs and capacities. We notice that if children are not given the care which takes their stage of human development into consideration, they will lack the foundation for the task ahead in school and for their later lives in general.” Translated by J. Liebschner in 1844 (“Friedrich froebel,” 2002) Let’s Start From the Beginning… Was born in 1782 in Oberweisbach, Germany as the third son in his family After a short study at the University of Jena, Froebel became a teacher, and found it a natural fit After teaching for a bit, Froebel studied architect at a local University and served in the Prussian Army fighting against Napolean Froebel got back into education in 1816 and continued to teach until 1837 Froebel published his first book, The Education of Man in 1826 From his ideas from teaching, his education, and working experience Froebel developed the idea of Kindergarten in 1837 and continued to devote his life to it until he passed away in 1852 at the age of 70. What Was Kindergarten? To Froebel, Kindergarten was intended to be a “garden of children, a place where each child could be fully developed according to his true potential .” When Froebel instituted Kindergarten it was originally for three to four year olds. Whereas typical education was teacher directed and memorization, Froebel included songs, stories and activities for the children Children were to be pointed in the right direction through self-activity By the end of the nineteenth century Kindergartens were established throughout North America and Europe Froebel the Idealist: Froebel built his concept of Kindergarten upon idealistic principles such as: All existence originates in and with God Humans possess an inherent spiritual essence that is the vitalizing life force that causes development All beings and ideas are interconnected parts of a grand, ordered, and systematic universe (Froebel, 2005) Froebel based his work according to these idealistic principles, believing that each child at birth has an internal spiritual essence, or a life force, that can externalized through self-activity. Kindergarten was to be a place that this self-active development could occur. Froebel used ideas such as kindergarten’s gifts, occupations, and play to promote this self-active development Froebel’s Curriculum Froebel developed what he called “gifts” and “occupations” for the children to use in Kindergarten. These gifts were to stimulate the children to understand fundamental concepts. These gifts were things such as: Six soft, colored balls A wooden sphere, cube and cylinder A large cube divided into eight oblong blocks A large cube divided into twenty-one whole, six half, and twelve quarter cubes A large cube divided into eighteen whole oblongs: three lengthwise and three breadth wise Quadrangular and triangular tablets used for arranging figures Sticks for outlining figures Whole and half wire rings for outlining figures Various materials for drawing, perforating, embroidering, paper cutting, weaving or braiding, paper folding, modeling, and interlacing. ("Friedrich froebel (1782–1852)," 1999) What did these “gifts” mean? The gifts began with simple objects such as spheres or circles and then became more complex. The various cubes were to allow the children to create geometrical designs When the students used the sticks and wires to trace designs they were inadvertently developing small motor skills and improving their hand-eye coordination The supplies such as straw, paper, pencils, wood, or clay was used for constructive activities. By tracing and constructing Froebel believed the children were taking their first steps towards drawing and writing. ("Friedrich froebel (1782–1852)," 1999) What else was in Froebel’s Kindergarten? Froebel also used songs and dance often in his Kindergarten and published a collection of Kindergarten songs in 1843 titled Mutter-undKose-lieder, which, translated, means Mother’s songs, games, and stories. Stories were also used to assist in sensory and physical development and socialization. So Now What? In the United States, it was the German immigrants that introduced the idea of Kindergarten. In 1856 in Watertown, Wisconsin, Margarethe Meyer Schurz established a kindergarten for German-speaking children. A woman by the name of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody established a kindergarten in Boston, organized an educational organization called the Froebel Union, and created an institute to train kindergarten teachers. Kindergarten was first incorporated into the St. Louis, Missouri public school system in 1873. Kindergarten teachers today continue to incorporate socialization and early writing readiness into their instruction, as well as setting up self-discovery opportunities for their students to develop their own self-actualization. ("Friedrich froebel (1782–1852)," 1999) Resources About friedrich froebel. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from http://www.froebel.com/about-froebel.htm Freidrich froebel. (2002). Retrieved February 22, 2010, from http://www.friedrichfroebel.com/ Friedrich froebel (1782–1852) - biography, froebel's kindergarten philosophy, the kindergarten curriculum, diffusion of the kindergarten. (1999). Retrieved March 1, 2010, from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1999/Froebel-Friedrich1782-1852.html Froebel, F. (2005). The education of man. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.