The development of early childhood education in the United States has been spearheaded by the need for an emerging society to cope with social and economic challenges. There are at important reasons why early childhood education gained more acceptance through the years. As society opened up to accepting women as part of the workforce, working mothers demanded more institutions that can accept early education for their children. The desire of the government to make their citizens more globally competitive increased thereby supporting education from the very young levels of citizenry.
Educators and leaders believed that poor communities have better chances of development if illiteracy is arrested the earliest possible time. And best reason why early childhood education has developed is the great response in children that all programs have been challenged to sustain. Caldwell shares her thoughts on how parents and teachers could sustain this excitement for learning innate in children. “Yes, it’s thrilling to be part of that excitement for learning. I think the first thing that adults have to do is respect it.
Curiosity is an absolutely wonderful thing, yet sometimes parents and teachers find it annoying-the 50th “why” question of the day, for example. Parents want to pull out their hair and say, “Oh come on, we’ve talked about that enough. ” So the most important thing for that excitement and curiosity is to reward it, to let children know that we are impressed that they are curious about something. ” (Mabie, 2001) Kindergarten is an educational program for students aged three to seven. Programs usually last from half to full days.
Educators believe that the kindergarten is a venue for developing early knowledge, skills and attitude of children that will help them get a jump start at formal education. The origins of early childhood education in the US can be found in Europe. Jean Fredrick Oberlin founded a school in 1767 in France. His wife, Madame Madeleine Oberlin taught children from two to three years old. The school focused on exercise and play and handicrafts. It was more popularly known as the “knitting” school. In 1837, Freidrich Froebel put up the first school to be called a “kindergarten” in Blankenburg, Germany.
His school became the first school in the world to envision education primarily for children in the pre-schooling age. Froebel is known as the creator of Kindergarten. His concept involved theories of childhood teaching and teaching material development. He also wrote the first Syllabus of Education of Man that listed basic theories of childhood education that guided schools worldwide. Early Childhood School in the US started as early child health centers. They were patterned after the French ‘cribs’ in Paris in 1844 where governments put up these centers to care for children of mothers who had to work.
Whether these centers were first found in Philadelphia or New York, where women had to work during the Civil Wars, it is important to note that these centers were focused on caring for these children rather than educating them. But due to the migration of Germans to America, the concepts of kindergarten soon landed on American soil through Margarethe Schurz. In 1856, she put up the first American kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin. The school used German as the medium of instruction. “The first English-speaking kindergarten was found in Boston in 1860 by Elizabeth Peabody.
For many years, she traveled throughout the United States, speaking about the purpose of kindergartens and their benefits to children. She helped establish kindergartens wherever she went. The first public school kindergarten was established in 1873 in St. Louis. Susan Blow, the teacher, lectured and taught kindergarten education, continuing to be a champion of Froebelian kindergarten education throughout her life. ” (Spodek, 1991) By the late 1920’s, the centers realized that besides keeping the children clean and fed, there was the opportunity to transform the venue to serve for educational needs.
“The average poor child in 1860s St. Louis completed three years of school before being forced to begin work at age 10. Susan Elizabeth Blow addressed that problem by offering education to children earlier. Applying Friedrich Froebel’s theories, she opened the United States’ first successful public kindergarten at St. Louis’ Des Peres School in 1873. Blow taught children in the morning and teachers in the afternoon. By 1883 every St. Louis public school had a kindergarten, making the city a model for the nation.
Devoting her life to early education, Susan Blow was instrumental in establishing kindergartens throughout America. ” (Watson, 1997) Maria Montessori has been a household name in early childhood education because of the amount of work and research that Maria Montessori has brought into early childhood education. As a physician working in a psychiatric clinic in Rome, she discovered that it was possible to train mentally defective children in order for them to be safer and become part of a productive sector of society. Her success of handicapped children led into her to be hired to help non-handicapped children as well.
Her practice and further research helped Montessori develop a curriculum for children that helped them maximize their full potentials in reading and learning. Montessori schools began to get established in the United States before the World War. Although crash in the economy led these Montessori schools to fade in the 1930s, there came a resurgence of Montessori institutions by the 1950s. Though the Montessori Method was very popular, it would be best to note that some Montessori associations are purist of the methods while others were not.
Today, early childhood educators are serious and committed in developing the kindergarten in helping future citizens of the country in becoming productive and responsible citizens. References: Watson, Bruce. 1997. Kindergarten. http://www. geocities. com/Athens/Forum/7905/fblkind. html Mabie, Grant E. 2001. A life with young learners: an interview with Bettye M. Caldwell. The Educational Forum. http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_qa4013/is_200110/ai_n8999175 Spodex, Bernard. 1991. Foundations of Early Childhood Education. Allyn and Bacon. Boston.
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