Kindergarten: A Learning Experience


On this date in 1876, the school board of St. Louis, Missouri, authorized the first kindergarten at a public school in the United States.

Here are some things you may not have known about kindergarten.

You probably solved this one on your own, but kindergarten is German for children’s garden. It was originally intended to allow for students to ease into going to school. The first kindergartens used an approach based on playing, singing, art and social interaction. They were for children whose parents worked during the day.

The first kindergarten was founded in 1779 in Strasbourg, France, and spread quickly through the German-speaking world.

Educator Friedrich Froebel coined the term “kindergarten” in 1840, saying that children should be nurtured “like plants in a garden.”

Froebel would go on to train women to open their own kindergartens around the world. The first kindergarten in the U.S. was founded in 1856 in Wisconsin and was taught in German. The first English-language kindergarten in the U.S. started in 1860. Susan Blow was the person behind St. Louis’ first public kindergarten. Canada’s firs public kindergarten started in 1882 in what is now Kitchener, Ontario.

The idea of kindergarten has evolved as it has spread around the world. In the U.S., students start kindergarten at the age of 5 or 6. Before that they can attend preschool, which usually starts at the age of 3 or 4. In some states, kindergarten attendance is mandatory and is considered to be the first year of primary school. In other parts of the world, kindergarten is more similar to the American idea of preschool.

In 1907 Maria Montessori opened her first classroom in Rome. Montessori’s method of teaching expanded on Froebel’s ideas, using mixed-age classrooms and a more student-directed education. Montessori education spread to the U.S. in 1911, but faded in 1914 after an American education scholar criticized Montessori’s methods. The Montessori method eventually returned to the U.S. in 1960 and has spread widely since. In 1967, the U.S. government ruled that the term Montessori is generic, so there can be huge differences between Montessori schools.

Our question: How many states do not require school districts to offer kindergarten?


Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States, Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea, and Heroes’ Day in Namibia.

It’s National Dog Day, National Cherry Popsicle Day, and National Toilet Paper Day.

It’s the birthday of Mother Theresa, who was born in 1910; American politician Geraldine Ferraro, who was born in 1935; and actor Macaulay Culkin, who is 36 today.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 2015, the top song in the U.S. was “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd.

The No. 1 movie was “Straight Outta Compton,” while the novel “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.




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