Early childhood education is an important first step in formal education for many young children. In this lesson, we will discuss the general history of early childhood education.
Early Childhood Education
Did you attend pre-school or kindergarten? How about daycare? All of these qualify as early childhood education.
Early childhood education is any formal education or care that takes place before primary school. This usually covers the ages from birth through approximately seven years. Furthermore, early childhood education is optional rather than required.
There are many different types of early childhood education programs. Some focus on child care while others focus on education. Either way, the goal is to provide developmentally appropriate opportunities for socialization and learning in a structured and supervised environment. Now that we understand what early childhood education is, let’s take a brief look at its history.
A Brief History
Most of us probably think of kindergarten when we consider early childhood education. We can thank Freidrich Froebel, a German educator who created kindergarten in Germany in 1837, for that.
Froebel’s idea was born out of the desire to socialize young children and to expose them to an education in science, music, and language outside the home. Eventually, Froebel’s concept of kindergarten spread to children throughout the world.Building upon the work of Froebel, Maria Montessori, a doctor who was interested in how children learn, opened the first Montessori school for the education of young children in Rome in 1907. Her method, which like kindergarten also spread throughout the world, was child-centered and child-directed, meaning that individual students learn based on what they are interested in at the time. Teachers are facilitators in learning with the Montessori method.Both of these developments in early childhood education set the tone for the future. However, early childhood education did not become common in America until after World War II as more women began to enter the workforce.
Recognizing the value of early childhood education as a means to reduce poverty, the United States dove in full force with Head Start, an early childhood education program created in 1964 that made free early childhood education available to low-income families. This led to an increase in early childhood education for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. The growth of Head Start was spurred even further in the 1970s, when many homes became two-income households. With both mothers and fathers in the workplace, parents relied heavily on early childhood education.Nowadays, many view early childhood education as an essential first step in education. Accordingly, many states now offer free voluntary pre-kindergarten programs, which are designed to provide children with high-quality care, socialization, and a developmentally appropriate education.
This serves to prepare children for primary school and provide a kick-off to a life of learning.
Let’s review. Early childhood education is any formal learning that takes place before primary school begins.
Many credit Freidrich Froebel, the founder of kindergarten, with the launch of early childhood education in 1837. Maria Montessori took it a step further in 1907 with her child-centered approach to early learning. This was followed by the United States’ Head Start program in the mid-1960s, which provided free early childhood education to children as means of escaping poverty. Out of this grew the voluntary pre-kindergarten movement, which provides free, high-quality early childhood education to children in many states throughout America.