kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be organized constructively. Through the use of songs, stories, games, simple manual materials, and group activities for which the furnishings of a kindergarten are adapted, children develop habits of cooperation and application, and the transition from home to school is thought to be made less formidable.

The theory implicit in the kindergarten system, that education develops through expression and social cooperation, has greatly influenced elementary education and parent education, especially in the United States, where kindergartens are generally a part of public school systems. The first kindergarten in America was founded (1856) at Watertown, Wis., by Margaretta Schurz, wife of Carl Schurz. It was followed by a school opened (1861) by Elizabeth Peabody in Boston and by a public kindergarten established (1873) in St. Louis by Susan Blow.

See also nursery school.


See C. Goode, World of Kindergarten (1970); W. Barbe, Basic Skills in Kindergarten (1980); S. Stuart, Teaching and Reaching (1983); B. Spodek, Today's Kindergarten (1986); N. Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten (1997).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Longitudinal Effects of Kindergarten
Prince, Debra Lindsey; Hare, R. Dwight; Howard, Esther M.
Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 16, No. 1, Fall-Winter 2001
Perceptions of Social Behavior and Peer Acceptance in Kindergarten
Phillipsen, Leslie C.; Bridges, Sara K.; McLemore, T. Gayle; Saponaro, Lisa A.
Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 14, No. 1, Fall-Winter 1999
All-Day Kindergarten
Clark, Patricia; Kirk, Elizabeth.
Childhood Education, Vol. 76, No. 4, Summer 2000
Full-Day or Half-Day Kindergarten? Kindergarten Teachers' Voices in the Debate
Boardman, Margot.
Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 27, No. 4, December 2002
Half-Days or Full Days of Kindergarten? How and Why Parents Decide
Boardman, Margot.
Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 30, No. 1, March 2005
Children's Literature for Developing Good Readers and Writers in Kindergarten
Yoo, Seung-Yoeun.
Education, Vol. 118, No. 1, Fall 1997
The Literacy Development of Kindergarten English-Language Learners
Araujo, Luisa.
Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 16, No. 2, Spring-Summer 2002
Standardized Entrance Assessment in Kindergarten: A Qualitative Analysis of the Experiences of Teachers, Administrators, and Parents
Dever, Martha T.; Barta, James J.
Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring-Summer 2001
"Peter Pan Isn't a Girls' Part": An Investigation of Gender Bias in a Kindergarten Classroom
Wellhousen, Karyn; Yin, Zenong.
Women and Language, Vol. 20, No. 2, Fall 1997
An American's Journey to Kindergarten's Birthplace
Moore, Mary Ruth.
Childhood Education, Vol. 79, No. 1, Fall 2002
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