Friedrich Froebel: Father of Kindergarten and Educational Pioneer

Categories: Kindergarten

 Who is Friedrich Froebel? What did he do to become so memorable? He created the Froebel’s Gifts. What are Froebel’s Gifts? How has Froebel influenced today’s children? In the town called Oberweibach located in Germany is where a man named Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel was born on April 21, 1782 (Manning, J. P. , 2005. p. 371). Nine months after Froebel was born his mother fell ill and passed away (Friedrich Froebel Biography, 1999).

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His father Johann Jacob Froebel was a Lutheran pastor. He remarried when Froebel was 4 – years – old.

Froebel’s stepmother did not care for him and his father was too busy for him. This resulted in Froebel having a terrible childhood. Having a family with a father and stepmother whom did not care or did not have the time is what pushed Froebel to become who he was before he passed. It pushed him to become stronger and more independent. Froebel’s father thought of him as dimwitted. Froebel’s father insisted he goes to a school for all girls (Friedrich Froebel Biography, 1999). Froebel most likely felt very small as if no one listened to him. Froebel had five older brothers. His brothers did not live at home with him, his father, and his stepmother.

One day his eldest brother came to stay at his father’s house for quite some time. Froebel and his eldest brother had a discussion about plants one day. Froebel, “expressed delight at seeing the purple threads of the hazel buds (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H.

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1889. p. 12). ” His eldest brother shared with him the knowledge that there was a similar sexual difference in plants. Froebel says, “From that time humanity and nature, the life of the soul and the life of the flower, were closely knit together in my mind; and I can still see hazel buds, like angels, opening for me the great God’s temple of nature (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H.1889. p. 12). ”

This is where the first seed was already planted into Froebel’s mind. He had seen a connection with humanity and nature itself. This connection developed all throughout Froebel’s life. In 1793, Froebel moved to Stadt-Ilm to live with his maternal uncle, Herr Hoffman (Friedrich Froebel Biography, 1999). When Froebel moved he was just 10 – years – old. He was allowed to attend the local school. He no longer had to attend the school for girls.

Froebel thought the best subjects at the local school in Stadt-Ilm were reading, writings, arithmetic, and religion (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H. 1889. p. 20). His favorite subject to study was arithmetic. In 1798, his father tried to get Froebel an apprenticeship for farmers, but they wanted to high of a premium. His father came to terms with a forester (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H. 1889. p. 24).

By this age, Froebel wanted to be an agriculturist. Ever since he was a child, he loved nature, such as the mountains, fields, forests, and flowers. In order for Froebel to do well at becoming an agriculturist he would have to be acquainted with geometry and land-surveying (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H. 1889. p. 20).

The forester had a reputation as land-surveyor and valuer. Froebel started his apprentice for the forester on a Midsummer Day in 1797. Froebel was only 15 and a half. He apprenticed for the forester for two years learning forestry, valuing, geometry and land-surveying (Michael, E. & Moore, H. 1889. p. 20). After two years Froebel left the apprentice job even though the forester wanted him to stay another year. Froebel wanted to learn mathematics and botany.

Botany is the study of plants. He received a book on botany where his love of nature flourished even stronger. It was the year 1800 when he left the forester.

Froebel had decided to continue his schooling, only problem was he did not have the money. He had a very small piece of property left to him that he inherited from his mother. He did not think it would be sufficient enough. He had to ask his trustee for the consent to realise his property (Michaelis, E. & Moore, H. 1889. p. 28). When he obtained it at the age of 17 and a half he went to Jena as a student in 1799. He later went to Yverdon. “Froebel attended the training institute that was run by Johann Pestalozzi (Mann, H. , 1887).

He attended the institute from 1808 to 1810. When Froebel left the institution within the two years, he left with the basic principles that Pestalozzi used for his theory. Those basic principles were, “permissive school atmosphere, emphasis on nature, and object lesson (Froebel Web, 1998-2008). ” Froebel was raised to be very religious and because he was religious his view of education became religious. After the school in Yverdon Froebel went to the University of Gottingen in 1811, but then switched to the school in Berlin to study Mineralogy in 1812 (Froebel Web, 1998-2008). Froebel joined the “Black Riflemen”.

In 1813 to 1814, Froebel joined the “Black Riflemen”. He was in the Prussian army against Napoleon (Froebel Web, 1998-2008). In the army against Napoleon is where he met two people. Their names were Heinrich Langentha and Wilhelm Middendorf. They ended up becoming friends whom supported Froebel and remained with him throughout his lifetime (Froebel Web, 1998-2008). In 1826, Froebel wrote his first book called The Education of Man. It was one of the most important books that he wrote. In 1885, his book was translated into English. Many say this was his greatest work. In 1837, he opened his first kindergarten.

Froebel moved to Bad Blankenburg (near Keilhau), where he opened his first kindergarten (Columbia, 2013). Froebel did not just open his first kindergarten. He was 58 years old when he created the first kindergarten. He became known as Father Kindergarten. In German, kindergarten means “Children’s Garden (Braun & Edwards, 1972). ” Froebel’s kindergarten was created for younger children. He created his kindergarten for children ages three to seven. School back then started at age seven. His kindergarten is where he applied all of the knowledge that he gathered over many years from schooling or his own self-discovery.

Froebel believed that children learned through play. According to Froebel, when children played  it was “free expression of what is in a child’s soul” giving “joy, freedom, contentment, inner and outer, rest, [and] peace with the world (Boyd, A. , n. d. ). ” Froebel incorporated plants into his school as well. Froebel stated: “Children are like tiny flowers, they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers (Nichols, R. 2010). ” Froebel realized that each child is unique and each child may learn differently than another.

“Froebel’s philosophy revolved around three main ideas: the unity of creation, respect for children as individuals, and the importance of play in children’s education (Braun & Edwards, 1972). ” All of Froebel’s ideas are shaped by his inherent belief in the linking of man, and of nature and God. In 1847, Froebel took his idea of women being trained as teachers to an all male conference where the subject and idea was evoked (Hewes, 1990. pp. 7-8).

He was laughed at and ridiculed, but that never stopped him. Froebel in 1849 began training women to become kindergarten teachers. He believed that women would make a better teacher because women were the ones who raised the children in their homes. Froebel’s kindergarten teachers became more of guides rather than lecturers to the children (Nichols, R. 2010).

Froebel created gifts that he thought would help children. Froebel created these gifts so that children could continue to learn through play. Froebel built blocks that were 1 inch cubes. He thought that the decorative blocks lacked a realistic view. Froebel believed that building with these blocks would help children progress from the material to the abstract (LeBlanc, M. 2010).

He also created gifts called occupations. “Occupations were objects in which children would shape and manipulate freely using their own creativity, such as clay, sand, beads, and rope (“Who Invented Kindergarten? ’, 2010). ” His classroom was set for individual development aimed towards each child. He had a garden where children could play and learn more about how plants worked.

Froebel believed that children were like plants, such  as planting a seed and help it grow. They sprout and bloom to become something glorious one day. Froebel is so memorable that even in 2014 people still talk about his accomplishments.

In 2010, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) celebrated the 238th anniversary of Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel’s birth. In Texas there were 14 teachers in 2006 that went to Germany. They visited every site and institution were Froebel lived and worked (Campos, D. , 2010. p. 74). Froebel’s philosophy is still alive today.

Many schools in the world today still use Froebel’s philosophy. Many kindergartens use his curriculum to a point. He used free play, games, songs, stories, and crafts to stimulate their imagination while developing physical and motor skills (Nichols, R. 2010). He also included mathematics.

Schools today even with the change of technology, still have children play with Froebel’s gifts and believe in play with to learn, but many schools no longer allow religion to be taught. Children entering into kindergarten start at age 5-6 years old. From the time Froebel opened his first kindergarten in 1837, until he became ill and passed away at the age of 70 in 1852, more than 90 kindergartens were opened all throughout Germany (New World Encyclopedia, n. d. ). In conclusion, Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel was born on April 21, 1782. He had a terrible childhood that pushed him to become the person he is today.

Froebel had a relationship with plants that flourished over many years. He became an apprentice for a forester in 1797. He went to multiple schools and self-taught himself. He went to multiple classes by Pestalozzi. He joined the “Black Riflemen” where he met his two lifelong friends named Heinrich Langentha and Wilhelm Middendorf. He moved to Bad Blankenburg where he opened his first kindergarten in 1837. He became known as Father Kindergarten. He created gifts that allowed children to build or even manipulate to all development of physical and motor skills. He is still known  today for his philosophy and his development of kindergarten. Today teachers still use play as a way for children to learn by.


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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Friedrich Froebel: Father of Kindergarten and Educational Pioneer. (2016, Oct 06). Retrieved from

Friedrich Froebel: Father of Kindergarten and Educational Pioneer essay
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