Kindergartens were originally conceived by Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852), a German educator, as preschool instruction for children three to seven years of age. The word kindergarten means “child's garden” in German and reflects Froebel's belief that education should help children realize their natural, inner potential. Thus, the curriculum emphasized the moral development of children as well as their intellectual and physical development. Although conceived in Germany, the kindergarten movement gained its momentum and popularity in the United States. This entry looks at the kindergarten's origins in Europe and its development in the United States.

Laying a Foundation

Froebel's own unhappy childhood almost certainly influenced his interest in the education of young children. At the University of Jena in 1799, he focused his studies on physics, mathematics, and architecture. ...

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