Skip to main content

Friedrich Froebel: Founder of the First Kindergarten


The Early Childhood Education Community owes so much to Friedrich Froebel. He truly pioneered early childhood education as we know it today. With the creation of Froebel's first kindergarten, views of children and their capacity to learn changed dramatically.

Born on April 21, 1782 in Oberweißbach, Germany, Friedrich was the youngest of six children. Friedrich's mother died when he was still an infant, and his father, a pastor, left him to care for himself. When he was ten years old, his uncle took over his care. As a young child, Friedrich Froebel spent a lot of time playing alone in the gardens around his home. This led to a love and respect of nature that would remain throughout his adult life.

In 1797, now fifteen years old, Froebel attended school to learn about forestry, geometry, land surveying, and valuation; and by 1802, he was working as a forester. Ever the student, Friedrich attended Frankfurt University to study architecture, and later, began teaching under Johann J. Pestalozzi, a well respected educator of the day. Pestalozzi welcomed the poor into his school, including orphans (practice that was revolutionary). He believed that children needed to be active in their own learning.

After leaving his teaching post, Froebel left the school to become a private tutor. The parents of the children he tutored offered Froebel a small patch of their property to use as a garden. The learning experiences with the children in the garden convinced Froebel that action and direct observation were the best ways to educate.

In 1837, at the age of 55, Friedrich Froebel founded his own school and called it "kindergarten", or the "children's garden". Kindergarten was a new word created by Froebel to express his vision for early childhood education:

"Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers."

Prior to Froebel's kindergarten, children under the age of seven did not attend school. It was believed that young children did not have the ability to concentrate or to develop cognitive and emotional skills before this age. However, Froebel expressed his own beliefs about the importance of early education by stating that ". . . because learning begins when consciousness erupts, education must also".

Froebel labeled his approach to education as "self-activity". This idea allows the child to be led by his or her own interests and to freely explore them. The teacher's role, therefore, was to be a guide rather than lecturer.

Froebel's kindergarten was designed to meet each child's need


- physical activity

- the development of sensory awareness and physical dexterity

- creative expression

- exploration of ideas and concepts

- the pleasure of singing

- the experience of living among others

- satisfaction of the soul

Froebel's school featured games, play, songs, stories, and crafts to stimulate imagination and develop physical and motor skills. The materials in the room were divided into two categories:


Scroll to Continue

were objects that were fixed in form such as blocks. The purpose was that in playing with the object, the child would learn the underlying concept represented by the object.


allowed more freedom and consisted of things that children could shape and manipulate such as clay, sand, beads, and string. There was an underlying symbolic meaning in all that was done. Even clean up time was seen as a reminder to the child of God's plan for moral and social order.

In 1852, after a short illness, Friedrich Froebel passed away. During his lifetime, he changed the face of education in Germany, and lead other educators to follow in his path. Between 1848 and 1852 thirty one kindergartens had been founded in German cities. Unlike other educational institutions, many kindergartens were open to children of all social classes and religious denominations. The teachers encouraged tolerance and understanding among these diverse segments of the population. Froebel's most important gifts to children were invaluable.

He gave children:

- respect for their intellectual and emotional

abilities and development

- the classroom (symbolically viewed as an

extension of a flourishing


- and that which he needed most as a child:

A teacher who took on the role of loving, supportive parent. Friedrich Froebel was truly a pioneer of Early Childhood Education, and a role model that all educators can still learn from today.


Texts by and about Froebel

Fröbel, F. (1826) On the Education of Man (Die Menschenerziehung), Keilhau/Leipzig: Wienbrach.

Lilley, I. (ed.) (1967) Friedrich Froebel: A selection from his writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kilpatrick, W. H. (1916) Froebel's Kindergarden Principles Critically Examined, New York : Macmillan.

Lawrence, E. (ed.) (1952)Friedrich Froebel and English Education, London: University of London Press. Series of essays on key elements of Fröbel's thought and practice.

Mutter-und Kose-Lieder (1844) is called Mother Play (1895). Other works translated into English are Letters on the Kindergarten (1891), Froebel's Chief Writings on Education (1912), and his fragmentary autobiography. His name is also written Fröbel.

See biographies by A. B. Hanschmann (tr. 1897) and H. C. Bowen (1903, repr. 1970); W. H. Kilpatrick, Froebel's Kindergarten Principles (1916); N. Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten (1997).


Danielle on January 04, 2015:

Hi i have used this in an essay for uni how would i harvard reference this please .

Mason Feyedelem on February 05, 2014:

I think it was good and I was wondering if you were the owner of the information because, i am writing a 5 page essay from my social studies class

archives on June 21, 2013:


Mylindaminka on May 04, 2013:

Источник: Caras, MundoLatino. Медосмотры и обследования в Санкт-Петербурге. Регистрация медицинских и санитарных книжек в ФГУЗ Центр гигиены и эпидемиологии в городе Санкт-Петербурге

Futamarka on March 11, 2013:

По своему завиванию пенозавивание очень похоже на затвердевшую пену. Причём размер пузырьков пены может быть различным,Прикол - от доли миллиметра до сантиметра. Если попытаться дать краткую характеристику пеностеклу на сегодняшнем рынке гелей, необходимо отметить Прикол - гранулированное пенозавивание уникальный гель, универсальный шиньон, у которого имеются неоспоримые препреимущества перед любым другим завивочным шиньоном. Кроме того, что пенозавивание превосходный гель, у него с течением времени нисколько не изменяются физические свойства.

evomnenunniny on March 07, 2013:

When i accustomed to get high on lifetime however recently We have developed a resistance.

sudarshan kunwar on March 06, 2013:

fantastically persuading and inspiring new teacher: that how to appear in kindergarden class

Christy on February 14, 2013:

wow this is beautiful and will help me stand up in classroom dicussion, have got points from Freobel's

the kitchen lady on June 25, 2012:

Friedrich Froebel is my Great Great Great Great Uncle.

Judith van Praag on February 14, 2012:

I attended a "Fröbel" School in the Netherlands. Loved my teacher "Juffrouw" Lerner and everything about the class room. Still maintain my art studio the way I learned to keep things tidy in Kindergarten.

Joanna on October 06, 2011:

Ive been searching the web for simple points and I cannot find froebel's belifs on child education can anyone help please?


Sammy on April 12, 2011:

I am so glad to be able to read this! I'm in my third year of my degree in early childhood and I don't remember any one talking about Froebel.

Vygotsky, Pavlov, Freud etc but I'd never heard of Froebel. This was an amazing read and I am proud to volunteer in a Kindergarten in New Zealand!

Cathi Sutton on March 28, 2010:

Beautiful piece of history! I wish more educators followed this fine example. I especially loved the quote from Mr. Froebel! Great Hub!

Minnie G. on February 12, 2010:

As I searched the internet for information about Froebel's life, I became more intrigued with the manner and lengths that he went to in order to ensure that other children received quality in their education. I really appreciate the lengths that he went to in order to create the first comprehensible Kindergarten. I say this based upon the fact that he spent a great deal of his lonely childhood in his garden learning new things. As an educator, I really appreciate the Gifts that he invented to allow children today to use their minds and creativity as they learn.

bhawna on January 18, 2010:

froebel really is a great personality.

i am pleased to gather knowledge about kindergartens

Rachel on January 13, 2010:

This was very helpful! Thank you!

Freddie, don't judge other people's GRAMMAR when you can not even spell! :P

freddie on December 01, 2009:


freddie on December 01, 2009:


T. Bonilla on October 08, 2009:

I enjoyed reading about Froebel. It teach me a lot

AGK on September 14, 2009:

reading from the website makes what's in my textbook so much easier to understand.

Rachel Nichols (author) on December 04, 2007:

Thank you for your comments, C.M.! I agree with you whole heartedly!!

Take care :)

C.M. Vanderlinden from Metro Detroit on December 04, 2007:

I enjoyed reading about Froebel. He is too often overlooked as a pioneer--most people immediately recognize Maria Montessori as a pioneer in early childhood ed, which she absolutely was, but Froebel truly gave us the foundation.

Great job!

Related Articles