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A kindergarten classroom in Afghanistan.

Kindergarten (in German, literally means children's garden) is a class or division of school for young children, usually four to six years old, which is to prepare them for elementary school. Kindergarten develops basic skills and social behavior by games, exercises, music, and simple handicrafts. In some places kindergarten is part of a formal public or private school system; in others it may refer to nursery school, preschool, or daycare. In British English, nursery is the usual term, and kindergarten is rarely used.


Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel opened the first kindergarten on June 28 1840 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Gutenberg's discovery of movable type. Froebel created the name and the term Kindergarten for the Play and Activity Institute, which he had founded in 1837 in the village of Bad Blankenburg, in the small principality of Schwarzburg Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany. The first kindergarten in the United States was founded in Watertown, Wisconsin by Margarethe Margaretta Meyer Schurz wife of activist-statesman Carl Schurz in 1856. Margarethe Schurz initially taught five children in her home including her own daughter Agatha) in Watertown, Wisconsin. Her success drove her to offer her education to other children as well. While Schurz's first kindergarten was German-language, she also advocated the establishment of English-language kindergartens. The first English-language kindergarten in America was founded in 1859 in Boston by Elizabeth Peabody, who followed Schurz's model. Schurz’s older sister Bertha Meyer Ronge opened Infant Gardens in London (1851), Manchester (1859) and Leeds (1860). The first publicly financed kindergarten in the United States was established in St. Louis in 1873 by Susan Blow.

Kindergarten systems of various countries

Function of Kindergarten

Kindergarten students attend kindergarten to learn to communicate, play, and interact with others appropriately. A teacher provides various manipulative materials and activities to motivate these children to learn the language and vocabulary of reading, mathematics, science, and computers, as well as that of music, art, and social behaviors. For children who previously have spent most of their time at home, kindergarten may serve the purpose of training them to be apart from their parents without anxiety. They are usually exposed to their first idea of friendship while they play and interact with other children on a regular basis. Kindergarten also allows parents especially mothers to go back to part-time or full-time employment.

After kindergarten, depending on the school, the children would advance to the next level which is usually referred to as first grade.

Many private businesses in the USA name their day care businesses Kindergarten or, misspelled, Kindergarden.

Kindergarten may be half a day in length either morning or afternoon or may be a full day.

Kindergarten Activities

There seem to be many positive learning and social/behavioral benefits for children in kindergarten programs. At the same time, it is widely felt that what children are doing during the kindergarten day is more important than the length of the school day. Gullo (1990) and Olsen and Zigler (1989) warn educators and parents to resist the pressure to include more didactic academic instruction in all day kindergarten programs. They contend that this type of instruction is inappropriate for young children. On the other hand, kindergarten programs in South Korea successfully incorporate much academic instruction alongside more playful activities. Korean kindergarteners learn to read, write often in English as well as Korean and do simple arithmetic. Classes are conducted in a traditional classroom setting, with the children focused on the teacher and one lesson or activity at a time. The goal of the teacher is to overcome weak points in each child's knowledge or skills.


All day kindergarten is becoming increasingly popular as a way of helping to close the achievement gap. United States school districts that have not yet moved to full day kindergartens are looking for funds to extend the school day. The United States are offering incentives for school districts, especially in the poorer districts. Benefits of full day kindergarten include an easier transition into first Grade. According to an Education Week article teachers feel that students are exposed to more than they would be in a two to three hour day. Students adjust well to the extended day. There are opponents who question the reason for full day kindergarten. There are those who feel that all day kindergarten is not an effort to improve student achievement, but more of an effort to fulfill obligations of the No Child Left Behind Act. They feel that full day kindergarten is a contributing factor for the teacher shortage.

The following is a list of articles which pertain to the subject.

  • Cryan, JR. Sheehan, R. Wiechel, J. And Bandy-Hedden, IG. (1992). Success outcomes of full-day kindergarten More positive behavior and increased achievement in the years after. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 72,187-203. EJ 450 525.
  • Elicker, J. & Mathur, S. (1997). What do they do all day? Comprehensive evaluation of a full-day kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 124, 459-480. EJ 563 073.
  • Fusaro, J. A.(1997). "The effect of full-day kindergarten on student achievement: A meta-analysis." Child Study Journal, 27(4), 269-277. EJ 561 697.
  • Gullo, D. F.(1990). "The changing family context: Implications for the development of all-day kindergarten." Young Children, 45(4), 35-39. EJ 409 110.
  • Housden, T., & Kam, R.(1992). "Full-day kindergarten: A summary of the research." Carmichael, CA: San Juan Unified School District. ED 345 868.
  • Karweit, N.(1992). "The kindergarten experience." Educational Leadership, 49(6), 82-86. EJ 441 182.
  • Koopmans, M.(1991). "A study of longitudal effects of all-day kindergarten attendance on achievement." Newark, NJ: Newark Board of Education. ED 336 494.
  • Morrow, L. M., Strickland, D. S., & Woo, D. G.(1998). "Literacy instruction in half- and whole-day kindergarten." Newark, DE: International Reading Association. ED 436 756.
  • Olsen, D., & Zigler, E.(1989). "An assessment of the all-day kindergarten movement." Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 4(2), 167-186. EJ 394 085.
  • Puleo, V. T.(1988). "A review and critique of research on full-day kindergarten." Elementary School Journal, 88(4), 427-439. EJ 367 934.
  • Towers, J. M.(1991). "Attitudes toward the all-day, everyday kindergarten." Children Today, 20(1), 25-28. EJ 431 720.
  • West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E.(2000). "America's Kindergartners." Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics.[1]
  • McGill-Franzen, A.(2006). "Kindergarten literacy: Matching assessment and instruction in kindergarten." New York: Scholastic.
  • WestEd(2005). "Full-Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities." San Francisco: WestEd.

See also

External links

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