From Academic Kids

Kindergarten (German for garden for children) is a name used in many parts of the world for the first stages of a child's classroom education. In some parts kindergarten is part of the formal school system; in others it may refer to pre-school or daycare.



Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel officially opened the first Kindergarten in 1840 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of movable type by Gutenberg. It was at Bad Blankenburg in the small principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, in Germany where had opened a Play and Activity Institute in 1837.

The first kindergarten in the United States was established in 1856 by Margarethe (Margaretta) Meyer Schurz (wife of activist/statesman Carl Schurz), in Watertown, Dodge County, Wisconsin. It was run as a public institution beginning in 1873.

North America

In North America kindergartens are usually administered in an elementary school as part of the K-12 educational system. Kindergarten is considered the first grade of formal education. In Ontario and Wisconsin there are two grades of Kindergarten; Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten (JK and SK).

After kindergarten a child moves to Grade 1.


Kindergartens (German plural Kindergrten) in Germany are not a part of the actual school system, as they are in the USA. The German translation of "pre-school", Vorschule, is used for educational efforts in the Kindergarten, which are handled differently in every German state. Kindergarten establishments (day-care) in Germany are normally for pre-school children between 3 and 6 years of age, and are often run by churches, city or town administrations. Attendance is neither mandatory nor free of charge.

United Kingdom

The first year of school in England and Wales is called Reception, or to a lesser extent Year 0. Pre-school daycare (which is not part of the school system) is called Nursery School. Kindergarten is occasionally used instead of nursery school, but this is mainly for marketing purposes.


In the state of New South Wales the first year of primary school is called kindergarten. In Victoria, kindergarten is a form of, and used interchangeably with, pre-school. Other states and territories may or may not follow either model.

Function of kindergarten

Children usually aged 4-6 years old, attend kindergarten to learn "how 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, math, 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. 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 'Kindergarden'.

Kindergarten may be half a day in length, (either morning or afternoon), or may be a full-day kindergarten.

What should kindergarten activities include?

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.

Also, an all-day kindergarten program can provide children the opportunity to spend more time engaged in active, child-initiated, small-group activities. Teachers in all-day kindergarten classrooms often feel less stressed by time constraints and may have more time to get to know children and meet their needs.


  • Cryan, J. R., Sheehan, R., Wiechel, J., & Bandy-Hedden, I. G. (1992). Success outcomes of full-day kindergarten: More positive behavior and increased achievement in the years after. EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 7(2),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, 12(4), 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.
  • Greer-Smith, S. (1990). THE EFFECT OF A FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN ON THE STUDENT'S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE. Unpublished master's thesis, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA. ED 318 570.
  • 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.
  • Hough, D., & Bryde, S. (1996, April). THE EFFECTS OF FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND AFFECT. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, New York. ED 395 691.
  • 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.
  • 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 [Online]. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics. Available:

External links

Preceded by
Followed by
First grade

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