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[Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich FroebelFroebel, Friedrich Wilhelm August
, 1782–1852, German educator and founder of the kindergarten system. He had an unhappy childhood and very little formal schooling, learning what he could from wide reading and close observation of nature; he studied for a short time at the
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 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 educationparent education,
movement to help parents' understanding of the problems of children at home and in the school. Much parent education is carried on through the channels of adult education, both formally and informally.
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, 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 SchurzSchurz, Carl
, 1829–1906, American political leader, b. Germany. He studied at the Univ. of Bonn and participated in the revolutionary uprisings of 1848–49 in Germany.
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. 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 schoolnursery school,
educational institution for children from two to four years of age. It is distinguishable from a day nursery in that it serves children of both working and nonworking parents, rarely receives public funds, and has as its primary objective to promote the social
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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).


a class or small school for young children, usually between the ages of four and six to prepare them for primary education. Often shortened (in Australia) to kinder or (in Australia and New Zealand) to kindy or kindie