Approaches To Early Childhood Education

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Fredrick Froebel Historical Background

Fredrick Froebel was born in Germany 1782, as the youngest of his family. Fredrick had a difficult childhood after suffering from the loss of his mother when he was a baby and felt withdrawn from his father. Fredrick decided to live with his uncle, he attended school and excelled in his studies but especially enjoyed the outdoors more.

When his schooling was done Fredrick took up an apprenticeship along with some part time classes, he soon formed an interest in philosophy. In 1808 Froebel worked a few jobs, after a sudden career change Froebel started to teach, this is where his interest in early years education began. In 1813 schooling was topped due to an ongoing war – this inspired him in 1816 to open his own school in Griesheim.

In 1818 Froebel moved permanently to Prussia where he set up his school – during this time Fredrick started to work on his educational ideas, he concentrated on the early years education and believed they needed a curriculum where they could explore the outdoors, learn nursery rhymes and do art activities to enhance their development.

Whilst doing other work such as teaching and running an orphanage Froebel published a book in 1826 called ‘’The Education of Man’’ where he wrote ‘’let us live with our children, let them live with us, so we shall gain through them what all of us need’’ (Linda Pound, 2005). In 1852 Froebel later passed – this sparked the Froebel approach and in 1857 this inspired many schools to follow his education method.

Core Concepts of the Froebel ECEC Approach

The core concepts for Froebel’s approach to ECEC setting are the stages of child development, kindergarten environment (indoor and outdoor), kindergarten curriculum, the role of the teacher, gifts and occupations and the importance of family.

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The stages of child development are built up on three stages; infancy, childhood and boyhood. Children aged 0-2 (infancy) are like sponges and listen to our words. It is encouraged to read to them to help develop their language and sensory skills. During childhood (2-7) is an important time for language development – during this time children should be guided by the adult. Froebel believed that boyhood (7-12) is more curriculum based learning and regular manual work.

Froebel believed the development of the early years was vital to help shape them into respectable human beings. The key principles of their development were self-activity this would give them the chance to be as free as possible and make their own decision on what they want to do. The next principle was creativity, children are very imaginative and creative and should be given the materials they need to express themselves in a healthy way. Social participation is a very important stage for a child this stage needs the help of the adult, the adult must encourage the child to interact and play with others to help develop their communication skills. Motor expression is hands on activities such as art and gardening – this is there to help develop our motor skills.

The kindergarten environment offers children a holistic approach to learning and gives children the freedom to explore and use materials in the classroom – this makes them feel comfortable as if at home. Froebel encouraged indoor and outdoor activities such as gardening, physical play, art activities and story-time – this would enhance their curiosity and help develop their social skills and communicate effectively with each other. Froebel believed the kindergarten approach helps the child become independent and confident in themselves, he encouraged working closely with the parents to build trust and work together in the best interest of the child.

Gifts and occupations is a term that Frobel came up with to describe the wooden materials he made for the children. The gift can be used with children ages between 2-8. He made these gifts to help children recognise shapes and develop their language. With each gift there is an occupation such as clay, wood carving, painting and drawing. Occupations allow freedom and encourages children to be creative.

Fredrick believed that a child needed a curriculum to learn effectively. The kindergarten doesn’t have a strict curriculum it is manly hands-on activities, creative and physical play and sing-songs. The curriculum built up on two principles such as games and songs, gifts and occupations – the curriculum is manly play activities both indoor and outdoor and toys that Fredrick designed himself to stimulate the child brain. This way of learning was very effective because children learn best through play.

The role of the teacher in a kindergarten setting is to encourage the children and to always acknowledge them, to be a role-model and sensitive to their feeling. The teacher should observe regularly and work with the child on improving their developmental skills. They should be patient so the children can feel safe and approach them anytime. The importance of family is empathised so the child can feel supported and encouraged. Froebel believed that parents and kindergarten teachers must work together to be more involved and to help the child reach their potential.


  1. Flood, E. & Hardy, C. (2013) ‘Early Childhood Education & Play, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  2. Linda Pound, 2005, ‘How Children Learn’.
  3. Early Childhood Curriculum FETAC Level 6, Eilis Flood & Catriona Hardy 2013, Gill & Macmillan.

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Approaches To Early Childhood Education. (2021, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 7, 2022, from
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