1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kindergarten
KINDERGARTEN, a German word meaning “garden of children,” the name given by Friedrich Froebel to a kind of “play-school” invented by him for furthering the physical, moral and intellectual growth of children between the ages of three and seven. For the theories on which this type of school was based see Froebel. Towards the end of the 18th century Pestalozzi planned, and Oberlin formed, day-asylums for young children. Schools of this kind took in the Netherlands the name of “play school,” and in England, where they have especially thriven, of “infant schools” (q.v.). But Froebel's idea of the “Kindergarten” differed essentially from that of the infant schools. The child required to be prepared for society by being early associated with its equals; and young children thus brought together might have their employments, especially their chief employment, play, so organized as to draw out their capacities of feeling and thinking, and even of inventing and creating.
Froebel therefore invented a course of occupations, most of which are social games. Many of the games are connected with the “gifts,” as he called the simple playthings provided for the children. These “gifts” are, in order, six coloured balls, a wooden ball, a cylinder and a cube, a cube cut to form eight smaller cubes, another cube cut to form eight parallelograms, square and triangular tablets of coloured wood, and strips of lath, rings and circles for pattern-making. In modern kindergartens much stress has been laid on such occupations as sand-drawing, modelling in clay and paper, pattern-making, plaiting, &c. The artistic faculty was much thought of by Froebel, and, as in the education of the ancients, the sense of rhythm in sound and motion was cultivated by music and poetry introduced in the games. Much care was to be given to the training of the senses, especially those of sight, sound and touch. Intuition or first-hand experience (Anschauung) was to be recognized as the true basis of knowledge, and though stories were to be told, instruction of the imparting and “learning-up” kind was to be excluded. Froebel sought to teach the children not what to think but how to think, in this following in the steps of Pestalozzi, who had done for the child what Bacon nearly two hundred years before had done for the philosopher. Where possible the children were to be much in the open air, and were each to cultivate a little garden.