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Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852) was a key figure in the development of early childhood education in the 19th century. He is noted for the invention of the concept of the kindergarten, literally ‘child garden’, sometimes translated as ‘nursery’ in English, suggesting a nurturing environment for natural, organic growth. He also introduced training for early childhood educators. His work was, and continues to be, influential, far beyond his native Prussia. In his writings, he developed a view of the nature and development of children, informed by philosophical ideas, and rooted in his religious beliefs. He stressed the importance of play, creative self-expression, and child-initiated activity in an environment that offered exposure to nature, social interaction, and instructive materials (his ‘gifts and occupations’, resources designed to support children’s ...

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