The Importance of the Kindergarten
The Phonograph, Thursday July 6, 1905.
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
The role played by the Kindergarten in common school education has passed the experimental stage, and has now become a fixture in our educational system. The efficiency of the principles formulated by Friedrich Froebel, and adapted to our American conditions by trained disciples, has appealed to the wisdom and action of our lawmakers. The Board of Regents of Normal Schools has made provision for the preparation of Kindergarten teachers in several of our State Normal Schools, while the excellency of the Kindergarten department of the Stout Training Schools at Menomonie is generally recognized.
The philosophy of the Kindergarten rests upon a sympathetic and rational recognition of the personality of the child, whose inborn activities are made to conform to the natural laws of growth. The legal school age, that age at which he must be admitted to school in Wisconsin is four. Up to that age the child is placed under no restraint, save in the minor limitations of the household. He follows, in general, his own sweet will and way, under mild guidance from the loving hand of the parent. The flower of mental activity is just budding, and the pleasure of the parents is manifest when his originality delights them by his cute acts and sayings. So seldom do they interpose restrictive authority that the little one is often king of the household; but while his rule may savor of absolute authority, it is pleasurable and harmless—mental, moral and physical growth following in the wake of self determined activity.
When the child enters the school he feels, for the first time perhaps his actions are determined by some one else. He is confronted by duty to be performed thoroughly within a specified time, the duty imposed by the teacher. The transition from the world of freedom to the world of the schoolroom, from the world of nature to the world of books with their rich, though to him, meaningless language is too abrupt and radical. The Kindergarten seeks to bridge this transition, making the passageway from one to the other gradual, natural and effective, maintaining in a measure those activities of the free child life, while unconsciously to him paving the way to the sterner realities of the school room. Its games furnish a medium for the freedom and exercise of his physical activities. Its occupations bind the flighty attention to the accomplishment of a specific purpose, giving play to his manual dexterity under the guidance of those mental faculties of observation, comparison, memory and judgment. The songs and picture studies develop his esthetic nature, while all of the exercises of the Kindergarten School in the performance of duty, and in his power to make him labor sympathetically and earnestly with his fellows. It has come to play a large part in public school education, and merits the cordial support of this community.