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All I really need to know… I learned in kindergarten.

Robert Fulghum

There’s a magical time during childhood where we start spending our days away from our parent’s homes. We enter a world of other children guided under the hand of an adult and start on the amazing journey that is learning. We start learning our ABC’s, colors, and shapes, and generally how to be a functioning human being in a society of other human beings. National Kindergarten Day celebrates this event and the man who is credited with starting it all, Johann Friedrich Oberlin, born on the 21st April.

History of National Kindergarten Day

The year was 1779, and it became apparent to a young Johann Friedrich Oberlin that there were many children in his Strasbourg community that were left alone during the day while their parents were away dealing with their other responsibilities. He and Louis Scheppler got together to create the first kindergarten, a school aimed at taking these children and teaching them during these hours. Kindergarten comes from a mid-19th century German word which translates to mean “children’s garden.” Frobel believed that young children learn best when they are able to freely explore their own interests, and we can see that belief evident in the numerous activities like singing, dancing, and creative play in kindergarten today.

This set a precedent that was soon emulated the world over, first in 1780 in Bavaria, and then in Detmoid in 1802 by Princess Pauline zur Lippe. In 1816 Robert Owen founded the first one in New Lanark, Scotland, and then in 1819 Samuel Wilderspin pushed the idea in earnest, creating one in London, and then hundreds more to follow.

Almost all of us attended kindergarten, and if you’re like us, you remember it as a magical time of learning, snack-time, and play with new friends. What started as an idea in a small German town became the foundation of a standard of learning that has stood the test of time and proven to be an incredibly important part of our formative years.

Kindergarten helps children to express and explore their creativity. It also teaches children to ask questions and learn the answers to the things they don’t know. Curiosity is so important, and kindergarten teaches children that questions can be answered. It also helps to foster independence by having children learn to be responsible for their own possessions and to help clean up messes, turn in work, and learn basic life skills. National Kindergarten Day tells us to remember these days and the incredible man who started it over 200 years ago.

How to celebrate National Kindergarten Day

If you have Kindergarten age children, then a great opportunity exists for you to call these days. Go with your child to school and volunteer to help out with the curriculum and joy that comes with so many eager young minds in a place of learning. Kindergarten teachers are usually excited to have help in the classroom to read to children, help with small group activities, or manage classroom parties. The excitement for learning and laughing from these children can be contagious!

Even if you are not able to physically be in the classroom, make an effort to appreciate your child’s kindergarten teacher. Sending in a small gift or heartfelt note of gratitude to the teacher can go a long way in boosting their mood and helping them feel appreciated for a hard job that isn’t always recognized.

Friedrich Frobel was a visionary who believed in preserving and encouraging the magic and wonder in children. His philosophies on encouraging play and interest-based learning are still groundbreaking today. His life story and passion to start kindergarten are fascinating and spending time learning about his life can help us to appreciate our children and see things from their perspective more often.

 If you want to bring a little bit of it home then maybe incorporate some fun memories you have from kindergarten in your home. Do some finger painting with your children, or sing some silly songs. Make a fun snack that looks like an animal and dress up in a costume to fight a monster. Embrace your own inner child and don’t be afraid to be silly!

Even better, research has shown the importance of nap-time, so maybe have some cookies and milk and lay down for a nap in the middle of the day, embracing the sweet memories of kindergarten while getting some quiet cuddles from your child.

Who didn’t love storytime as a kindergartener? Grab a pile of books and snuggle up to read some of your favorite stories to your child. An even better idea would be to take a trip to the library and explore the endless possibilities for your child’s imagination. Reading books while drinking hot chocolate, wrapped up in a big blanket in bed, or hidden away inside a blanket fort are more ways to embrace the wonderful excitement of being a child.

After reading some stories, it could be fun to create some of your own. Young children have wonderful imaginations, and making up silly stories can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing. You can start with an existing story and pretend your child is a character. How would the story be different? What would they choose to do? Or you can start completely new and incorporate some of their favorite interests.

No matter how you choose to celebrate with your child, the important thing is to spend time with your child and make sure they know they are loved.

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