This is the time of year children of all ages head to school. Many, like my grandson Dax, will be starting formal public school for the first time as a kindergartener. You may remember those days when your parents bought you back to school clothes and a shiny new backpack and sent you off on a new adventure. Mom and dad held their breath, hoping you liked your new teacher and you made friends to stick by you.
Kindergarten has not been around forever however. Even though the first public school kindergarten in the US was in St. Louis in 1873, there was no kindergarten where we lived, not far across the river from there, when I was that age. And if you are wondering, I am not 150 years old. I started school in the early 1960s. But kindergarten did not catch on in the US all at once. It gradually became part of school curriculums until 1986 when Mississippi finally offered it. http://www.redleafpress.org/assets/clientdocs/social_media/IsEverybodyReadyForKindergarten.pdf.
For instance, my family moved mid school year when my younger sister Christie was a kindergarten student in Vancouver, Washington. The small mountain school we moved to in Newhalem, Washington only taught grades 1-8 in a four-room schoolhouse. With no kindergarten for Christie to continue the year, she told people she was “fired from kindergarten”. Ironically, there is no school there anymore at all. I was checking to see if I could find a picture of the school we attended and found this on Wikipedia. “There was a school in Newhalem a long time ago but it was demolished because the population had severely dropped. Now the students have about a 11⁄2-hour bus to Concrete.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newhalem,_Washington
Now that makes me feel old because we must have attended there a long time ago. I don’t think they tore it down though but made it into a visitor’s center or something. I am pretty sure it is the building in the middle of the grassy circle in this photo.
Of course you know that kindergarten did not originate in the US. German born Friedrich Froebel is credited with starting the kindergarten movement. The word itself translates to “garden of children” which is appropriate for growing youngsters. His ideas of adding play, crafts, music, and outings for children to learn was met by some skepticism by certain authorities and Prussia discontinued the practice for a time in fear of spreading socialist ideology.
The first kindergarten was established in 1837. Froebel experienced an unhappy childhood with a strict stepmother. As a natural educator, he used toys for inventive play. Rather than force children into roles, he allowed children to shape and manipulate items such as clay, sand, beads, rope, etc. Games and dance were accepted as the key for healthy activity and physical development. http://germanculture.com.ua/famous-germans/who-invented-kindergarten/.
Hopefully you were never fired from kindergarten and if you attended, I hope you have fond memories of it. When you see those little guys marching off to school with their fresh backpacks, remember this is also part of that German heritage. Feel free to share some of you memories with me.