PHILOSOPHICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION: Are you able to analyze Froebel’s philosophy and his contribution to ECE?



6a i). Analyze Froebel’s philosophy and his contribution to ECE

6.1 Introduction

In this unit, we are going to learn about Friendrich Wilhelm Froebel, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori.

6.2 Unit Objectives

By the end of this lecture you should be able to:

  • Describe Froebel’s philosophy.
  • State the contributions of Froebel to ECE.
  • Outline the components of Froebel’s curriculum for children.
  • List the roles of teachers according to Froebel.
  • Describe Dewey’s philosophy.
  • List the contributions of Dewey to ECE.
  • Explain the roles of schools according to Dewey.
  • Describe Maria Montessori’s philosophy.
  • State the advantages and disadvantages of Montessori approach



He was born in 1782 in German. He was teacher and philosopher. He was an idealist. He was influenced by Rousseau’s and Pestalozzi’s ideas. He wanted to make children happy. He is the founder of the modern kindergarten. “Kindergarten” means “garden for children”. According to Froebel, children should be nurtured from an early age in a Kindergarden. He stressed on the need for parents to meet the needs of children before joining Kindergarten. He believed that every child had a specific purpose to fulfill in this life. He believed that a child was born perfect and education should protect a child from evil influences in the environment. In 1837 he opened his kindergarten in an old mill in Blankernburg in Germany. The kindergarten formed a bridge between home and school. In the kindergarten teachers provided activities which helped children to learn. Froebel believed in the importance of play. He believed children learned through play and that unstructured play was dangerous. He instructed his teachers to guide and direct children’s play. He developed materials for learning called “gifts”.




     His beliefs about children and how they should be educated.

  • He believed that children belong to God.
  • He believed that spiritual education is the foundation of early learning.
  • Children learn what they are ready to learn.
  • He believed that children need free self expression, creativity, social participation and motor expression.
  • He believed that a child in Kindergarten or school is just like  a young plant in a garden which needs to nurtured to produce fruits.
  • He believed that children develop in stages and that each stage should be fully exploited for proper subsequent development.
  • He believed that for  children to develop to the full and early childhood experiences are very important because they influence the development of the child

    His contributions to early childhood education.

  • He established the first Kindergarten.
  • He developed a curriculum for children. The basis for the curriculum were “gifts”, “occupations”, songs, and educational games.


    Elements of Froebel’s Curriculum for Children

  • Gifts. Gifts were objects that were fixed in form for example blocks, balls, cubes, cylinders and sticks. The materials were for the child’s self directed activities. They allowed children to learn different concepts like shape, size, colour and concepts involved in counting, measuring, contrasting, and comparison.  
  • Occupations. Occupations were materials or things that children could shape or manipulate for example clay, sand, beads and strings. Learning activities were meant to develop various skills, like sewing with a sewing board, drawing pictures by following dots, modeling clay, cutting, stringing beads, weaving, pasting and folding papers.
  • Play. Many of the plays or games he developed were based on gifts. Through play children developed fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.


    Methods of teaching children according to Froebel

  • Discovery method.
  • Exploration method.
  • Question – answer method.
  • Mult-sensory method.
  • Play method.


    Teacher’s Role in the education of children

  • Observer. The teacher’s role is to observe the unfolding of a child in order to provide appropriate learning activities.
  • Helper. The teacher’s role is to help children to grow, develop and learn.
  • Planner. The teacher plans and organizes appropriate learning activities and experiences for children.
  • Gardener. He compared the role of the teacher to that of a gardener and a school as a garden. The teacher’s role like that of the gardener is to facilitate growth and development of the child.
  • Guide. The teacher is a guide. He guides and directs children so that they can learn and became creative contributing members of their society.
  • Model. He believed that teachers should be models for children to imitate. They should be humble, kind, hardworking, honest, obedient, faithful, and God fearing.

     Role of schools

    • Nurture children
    • Protect children.
    • Provide needs of children.


   Activity:  Explain the implications of Froebel’s philosophy.


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