150 anniversary of the death of Friedrich Froebel
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Early Childhood Education

The longer we consider and examine the present day methods of education, the more clearly we recognise that the children of preschool age lack the care and consideration which would be in accord with their present and future needs, a care which considers equally the child's mental and physical positions. We notice that if children of preschool age are not given the care which takes their stage of human development into consideration they will lack the foundation for the task ahead in school and for their later lives in general.

This realisation has accompanied me for a life time, at first nebulous and a surmise only, but I have been increasingly aware of it during thirty years of endeavour in the educational field. Especially during the last years, I have put my ideas for examination before teachers, educators and parents of all social classes, whose deliberations based on their experiences, agreed with mine that the present and future living conditions of people of all social classes rest on the careful consideration and the rounded mental and physical care of early childhood and that, at the moment, schools and life in general do not possess this genuine and firm foundation to a large extent.

This realisation directed my educational endeavours more and more, especially in the later years, towards the care of children in their earliest years, up to school age, especially by paying attention to their activity drive, their occupational drive.

Because I find that one of the basic causes of defective child care is the unsatisafactory consideration of the children's activity drive, I have endeavoured to create an institution for this very purpose. An institution under the motto, Come let us live with our Children, which has the task of giving into the hands of parents, families, educators and teachers a coherent system of play activities. These games do not only nourish the inner activity drive but they also teach the use of the child's immediate environment as a means for play and occupation and as educational aids. They are games and occupations, ways and means, which give a presentiment of the connection between human life and nature, and an indication of the laws of it, so as to give an example - at least a symbol to live up to. Finally, games which are therefore educative and developing for the person who plays with the children, which influence him and in their alternating educational function become a genuine bond between them both.

This article by Friedrich Froebel originally appeared in the daily paper Allgemeiner Anzeiger der Deutschen of 19 March 1839. It is a short and clear statement of Froebel's thinking about Early Childhood Educaton and the Gifts. The first four paragraphs translated by Joachim Liebschner are included in his book, A Child's Work: Freedom and Guidance in Froebel's Educational Theory and Practice
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A Child's Work: Freedom and Guidance in Froebel's Educational Theory and Practice
A Child's Work

This book by Joachim Liebschner presents a full account of this cornerstone of Froebel's philosophy. A firm believer in guided play as the most important learning tool for young children, Froebel was the inventor of the Kindergarten and the founder of the first teacher training college for women.
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