Intro to Early Childhood

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Friedrich William Froebel (1782-1852) had a significant influence on early childhood education as we know it today. He is known as the inventor of kindergarten, a German word meaning "children's garden". The model of the modern day kindergarten was conceived by Froebel, who opened his own kindergarten in 1836, calling it a Play and Activity Institute. There he implmented such practices as promoting a child's right to play, to have toys, and to be in the care of trained teachers. He believed that education should be pleasant for the child, because of his own unhappy childhood, instead of shifting the role of the teacher from strict disciplinarian to friendly facilitator. Froebel also had the idea that men as well as women should teach, which was not heard of in those times. His system of teaching was centered around self activity and the development of a child's self- esteem rather than relying on sterile and rigid instructions. (Hewes 1993). Froebel observed the children and came to an understanding of how they learned and what they like to do. It was his belief that children learned much in the process of playing. (Ann Miles Gordon and Kathryn Williams Browne 21, 22)

We can see the fruits of Froebel vision alive today in a variety of ways. For example, many early childhood programs are teacher-directed, with the focus being on planting ideas for the children to cultivate in their own time. Also, you may encounter a teacher of the male persuasion in your child's classroom. Often, teachers in early childhood education are required to pursue some type of training and/or education relating to childcare, which was encouraged by Froebel. ( Ann Miles Gordon and Kathryn Williams Browne 21, 22)

Froebel's philosophy was that life was a school and the world was a classroom. He wanted the environment in which children learn to be full of discovery and adventure. He called the educational toys he created "gifts", giving us insight into how he viewed learning and the...
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