Watching my son wander over to a group of artists, today, at the arboretum and then sit down to join them made me think of the school we visited last night.
My husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in and learn about early childhood education which included the history of Kindergarten. Now I admit, I never knew what the history was and was so encouraged by what I heard. Kindergarten is german and means “child’s garden”. How beautiful right? Fredrich Froebel is the man who created Kindergarten and the name came from his childhood playing alone in the gardens around his home. His relationship with his aunt led him to encourage women as teachers and it was the teachers who were called “Kindergarteners”. It was his love and respect of nature that would remain with him throughout his adult life. His education led him to studying architecture and then teaching. After leaving his teaching post, he became a private tutor. The parents of the children he tutored offered Froebel a small patch of their property to use as a garden. The learning experiences with the children in the garden convinced Froebel that action and direct observation were the best ways to educate. Prior to his starting Kindergarten, children under 7 did not attend school.
Froebel’s kindergarten was designed to meet each child’s need
– physical activity
– the development of sensory awareness and physical dexterity
– creative expression
– exploration of ideas and concepts
– the pleasure of singing
– the experience of living among others
– satisfaction of the soul
Froebel’s school featured games, play, songs, stories, and crafts to stimulate imagination and develop physical and motor skills.
It is the influences of Frobel and also Maria Montessori and others that are a foundation and philosophy of the school we visited yesterday. Walking into the school I immediately noticed the art covering the walls, building blocks and mazes covering the floors, clay, books AND no where did I see a typical classroom set up. I immediately felt at home. I could feel how wonderful it must be for a child to experience pre-k through 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade here. I saw pictures of the kids skiing down the hills at the Snoqualmie pass (an outing), walking to the library, walking to the bakery, having class outside at the park and at the lake it made me feel like I wanted to be a kid again. This, this is the place I hope my kids will be able to attend. I want my kids to have a foundation of play, laughter, arts, and fun….this is what childhood is all about to me.