History of Early Childhood Education

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  • 0:00 Early Childhood Education
  • 0:47 A Brief History
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

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.

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