The New International Encyclopædia/Kindergarten

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KINDERGARTEN, kĭn'dẽr-gär'ten (Ger., children's garden). A school for children from the third or fourth to the seventh year, suggested and organized by Friedrich Fröbel (q.v.), through which the natural activity of the child in play is so organized as to assist in the physical, mental, and moral development. Fröbel first grasped the significance of the idea of evolution in its application to education, and saw the importance of the earlier stages. To him education was a setting free of the powers inherent in the individual. By an organization of the child's instinctive tendency to action, through gradual, continuous exercises, his best tendencies can be strengthened, and at the same time he can acquire a certain preliminary knowledge of the world of nature and man around him. Thus the child gains control over his own being, develops power of thought, self-control, accuracy of sense-perception, and a tendency toward an active intellectual life.

Fröbel was a close student of child life. Hence his suggestion of means and methods for the kindergarten work were based on accurate knowledge of child nature, and have been of permanent value. The mere play instinct alone would not suffice, but the plays and games must be selected and organized. Fröbel classified the material to be so used as gifts and occupations. The kindergarten is a new social institution for the child, in which he has free scope to be himself while being also one of a community of equals toward whom he must observe his duties and accept the responsibility of his part in the whole. The gifts and the occupations are there introduced gradually and in a logical order. As he becomes familiar with the properties of the one he is led on to the next, which properly grows out of the first, each introducing new impressions and repeating the old.

The first gift is composed of six rubber or woolen balls, three of the primary and three of the secondary colors. The ball is chosen as the simplest type form, from which may be derived all other forms, as embodying the element of constancy and unity. Through the balls the idea of comparison is introduced, and sensation and perception become clearer and stronger through the similarity, contrast, and discrimination made possible by the almost innumerable exercises and games. The second gift, comprising a wooden ball, cylinder, and cube, carries impressions further, and offers not only in itself, but also with the first gift, a strong illustration of contrasts and their connections. In shape, in material, in hardness, in color, etc., it contrasts with its predecessor, but is like it in the common shape of the balls. With the third gift, consisting of a wooden cube cut once in each dimension to form eight smaller cubes, begins the first impression of a whole divisible into similar parts. Here, too, are the first steps in number, in analysis of construction, the first suggestion, in the gifts, of the relation of the individual to the whole, and of the need of every perfect part to form a perfect unit. With the use of this gift the child accustoms himself to regularity, care, precision, beauty. The fourth gift, a cube like that of the third, but cut once horizontally and twice vertically into eight rectangular parallelograms, introduces especially the new element of a whole composed of parts unlike itself. The fifth and sixth gifts are but extensions of the third and fourth, with more material and differing forms of solids. The seventh gift consists of quadrangular and triangular tablets of cardboard or thin wood, giving a basis for studies in surfaces and colors. The eighth and ninth gifts are introductory to drawing, and consist of small strips of laths and of rings and circles in cardboard, which can be arranged into all sorts of patterns.

The development of Fröbelian principles has caused much more stress to be placed upon the occupations than upon the use of the gifts. These occupations are, modeling in clay and in cardboard, and, later, wood-carving, or sloyd; paper-folding, in two and three dimensions; paper-cutting, paper mosaic, and work with the color-brush; mat-plaiting, slat-weaving, paper-weaving, sewing, wax or cork work with sticks, drawing in checks and free, bead-threading, and perforating. These occupations are grouped above, not in the order of their use, but as they deal with solids, surfaces, and lines and points. The union of part with part in the kindergarten periods is maintained by a central, seasonable thought, from which spring all the exercises of day, week, and month, that thought always dealing with subjects within the general and local experience of the kindergarten children. The songs, games, and stories, which hold together the periods of gift and occupation exercises, are also an integral part of them, growing out of them and their necessities. While they are the means of developing the singing voice, facility in language, grace and strength of body, they are also compassing the powers of attention, observation, imagination — they are helping the child to think, to obey law, to govern himself, to stand in the proper attitude toward his environment. Another aspect is the industrial connection of the kindergarten with life. Manual training, not in special but in general dexterity, forms an important part of the kindergarten training. From the delicacy of touch, as needed in such gifts as paper-folding and parquetry, to the strength and decision gained by the hands in clay-modeling, all degrees of handling are introduced, accuracy becomes a second nature, and crisp, distinct action is attained. The kindergarten also develops an interest in nature, and gives the child an impulse to study its forces and phenomena.

NIE Kindergarten Christian Memorial Brooklyn.jpg
NIE Kindergarten Pratt Institute Brooklyn.jpg

1. Interior of H. S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, Brooklyn, N. Y.
2. Children of Pratt Institute Kindergarten, Brooklyn, N. Y., gardening.

The first kindergarten was opened by Fröbel in the year 1840 in the village of Blankenburg in the Thuringian Forest. Until his death in 1852, Fröbel gave himself up to the work of establishing other of these institutions, and of interesting and enlisting the friends of education in the cause. After his death the Baroness Marenholtz-Bülow, Fröbel's ardent disciple, devoted herself to carrying on the work, and the movement has steadily grown until kindergartens form a component part of the public-school system in most Continental countries, in most cities of the United States, and in some South American and Asiatic countries. In France and French Switzerland their establishment is compulsory, and they are supported and organized like any other part of the public-school system. In Germany and England their support is yet local or philanthropic.

The pioneer movement for the establishment of kindergartens in the United States was led by Miss Elizabeth Pcabody, of Boston, who on becoming interested in Fröbel's writings went to Germany in 1867 to study his system. She returned the next year and devoted the remainder of her life to the popularizing of the Fröbelian principle of education, ably seconded by Mrs. Horace Mann and Dr. Henry Barnard. During the decade of the sixties several kindergartens were established in Boston, Mass., Hoboken, N. J., and Louisville, Ky. A similar movement was led independently in New York by Miss Henrietta Haines and Miss Boelte, the latter a pupil of Fröbel's widow. During the seventies philanthropic associations were established in numerous cities for the support of kindergartens as charitable institutions. These were begun in Florence, Mass., in 1874, and in Boston in 1878; this movement prospered especially in San Francisco, Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and Louisville, and was supported in various other places. The first public kindergarten was opened in Boston in 1870, but shortly abandoned. The first permanently successful attempt to make the kindergarten a part of the public-school system was begun in Saint Louis in 1873, under the leadership of Miss Susan Blow and Dr. W. T. Harris. Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, and in time most of the large cities and many of the smaller ones, have followed Saint Louis in this respect, usually through the absorption of free kindergartens previously established by private benevolent associations. In 1898-99 there were reported to the United States Commissioner of Education 2884 kindergartens, having 5764 teachers and 143,720 pupils. These statistics are far below the actual numbers, for the reports made are purely voluntary. Statistics privately collected show the number of kindergartens to have increased as follows: in 1873, 43; in 1882, 348; in 1892, 1311; in 1898, 4363. The kindergarten movement was furthered by a magazine The Kindergarten Messenger, first published in 1873 by Miss Peabody. At the present time there are very many similar publications. The American Froebel Union, established in 1867, also by Miss Peabody, was the forerunner of many such associations. The Union became the kindergarten department of the National Educational Association in 1885. Many schools for the training of kindergartners have been established either as independent enterprises or in connection with other educational institutions, chiefly normal schools. The best known of these, now connected with normal schools, are the Chicago Kindergarten College, and those in connection with the Teachers College, Columbia University, and with Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.

Bibliography. There is now a very extensive literature relating to the subject. Consult: Fröbel, Die Menschenerziehung (Keilhau, 1826); id., Pedagogik des Kindergartens (Keilhau, 1837-40); id., Autobiographie, translated (London, 1886); id., Mutter- und Koselieder (new ed., Vienna, 1895); Madame Marenholtz-Bülow, Die Arbeit und die neue Erziehung (Berlin, 1886); Das Kind und sein Wesen (2d ed., Berlin, 1878); Erinnerungen an Froebel (Kassel, 1876); Der Kindergarten des Kindes erste Werkstätte (2d ed., Dresden, 1878); Woman's Educational Mission. Among the more useful translations of these are Reminiscences of Froebel, by Mrs. Horace Mann (Boston, 1877); The Songs and Music of Froebel's Mother Play, by Susan E. Blow (New York, 1874); Education of Man, by Dr. Hailmann (New York, 1892); Fröbel's Autobiography (London, 1886); and Madame Marenholtz-Bülow's Child and Child Nature and Hand-work and Head-work (London, 1899). Dr. Henry Barnard published in 1881 a translation of the Autobiography, and of other important works, as well as many original contributions under the title of Kindergarten and Child Culture. The complete works of Fröbel are now published in translation in the “International Educational Series” (New York). Other important publications in English are: Schireff, The Kindergarten (London, 1889); Hailmann, Kindergarten Culture in the Family and Kindergarten (Cincinnati, 1873); Bowen, Froebel and Education by Self-activity (London, 1892); Kraus, The Kindergarten Guide (New York and London, 1882); Hailmann, The Law of Childhood and Kindergarten Methods in the Primary School (Chicago, 1889); Mrs. Hailmann, Songs and Games for the Kindergarten (Springfield, Mass., 1887); Blow, Symbolic Education (New York, 1889); Hughes, Froebel's Educational Laws (New York, 1899). See Fröbel; National Education, Systems of.