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German, literally means "children's garden") is a class or division of school for young children, usually four to six years old, which is intended to prepare them for entry to formal schooling. Kindergarten develops basic skills and social behavior by games, exercises, music, and simple handicrafts. In some places kindergarten is part of a formal public or private school system; in others it may refer to nursery school, pre-school, or daycare. In British English, "nursery" is the usual term, and "kindergarten" is rarely used.(
Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel opened the first kindergarten on 28 June 1840 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Gutenberg's discovery of movable type. Froebel created the name and the term Kindergarten for the Play and Activity Institute, which he had founded in 1837 in the village of Bad Blankenburg, in the small principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany. The first kindergarten in the United States was founded in Watertown, Wisconsin by Margarethe (Margaretta) Meyer Schurz (wife of activist/statesman Carl Schurz) in 1856. Margarethe Schurz initially taught five children in her home (including her own daughter Agatha) in Watertown, Wisconsin. Her success drove her to offer her education to other children as well. While Schurz's first kindergarten was German-language, she also advocated the establishment of English-language kindergartens. The first English-language kindergarten in America was founded in 1859 in Boston by Elizabeth Peabody, who followed Shurzs' model. Schurz’s older sister Bertha Meyer Ronge opened Infant Gardens in London (1851), Manchester (1859) and Leeds (1860). The first publicly financed kindergarten in the United States was established in St. Louis in 1873 by Susan Blow.
 Kindergarten systems of various countries
 Australia/New Zealand
In the state of New South Wales, the first year of primary school is called kindergarten. In Victoria, kindergarten is a form of pre-school and is interchangeably referred to as such. The term Prep refers to first-year primary school students. In Queensland, kindergarten is usually an institution for children around the age of 4 and thus the precursor to preschool and primary education. Other states and territories may or may not follow either model. In South Australia, school for children age 3 to 5 is called Early Learning Centre or Preparatory School. In New Zealand, kindergarten consists of the first 2 years before Primary School, from age 3 to 5.
In Bulgaria, the term Kindergarten refers to the schooling children attend from 3 to 6 years of age. It is followed by preschool class, which is attended for a year before primary school.
In Ontario (as in some parts of the state of Wisconsin in the United States) there are two grades of kindergarten; junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten (referred to as JK and SK, respectively). In Ontario, both the senior and junior kindergarten programs, also called the "Early Years", are optional programs. Mandatory schooling begins in grade one.
Within the province of Québec, junior kindergarten is called prématernelle and senior kindergarten is called la maternelle. Within the French school system in the province of Ontario, junior kindergarten is called la maternelle and senior kindergarten is called jardin d'enfants, which is a direct translation of the German word kindergarten. These terms are all unlike those used in France.
In Western Canada there is only year of Kindergarten. After that year, the child begins the first grade.
In China, the equivalent term to kindergarten is 幼兒園, pronounced as you er yuan. Before Kindergarten, children may go to nursery for two years. At the age of 4 children begin Kindergarten and attend until age 6, when they begin primary school.
In France, the equivalent term to kindergarten, école maternelle, designates also to preschool. State-run, free maternelle schools are available throughout the country, welcoming children aged from 2 to 5 (although in many places, children under 3 may not be granted a place). It is not compulsory, yet almost 100% of children aged 3 to 5 attend. It is regulated by the French department of education.
Kindergarten (plural Kindergärten) is not part of the actual school system, as it is in the United States, for example. The term Vorschule, meaning preschool, is used for educational efforts in kindergartens, which are handled differently in each German state.
Children between the ages of 3 and 6 attend Kindergartens, which are often run by city or town administrations, churches, or registered societies that pursue a certain educational goal, e.g. as represented by Montessori, or Reggio Emilia.
Kita (short for Kindertagesstätte), meaning children's daycare center, as they are frequently called, can be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and may also house a Kinderkrippe, meaning nursery, for children between the ages of 9 months and 2 years, and possibly an afternoon Hort (normally associated to a primary school) for school-age children aged 6 to 10 who spend the time after their lessons there. Alongside nurseries, there are day-care nurses working, independently from any pre-school institution, in individual homes and looking after only three to five children up to 3 years of age. These nurses are supported and supervised by local authorities. Attendance of a kindergarten is neither mandatory nor free of charge, although it can be partly or wholly funded, depending on the guidelines of the local authority and the income of the parents.
 Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, kindergartens provide three-year courses. Children aged 8 months to 2 years attend the first year of kindergartens. Names of the years vary depending on the Kindergarten. After finishing the third year of study, children attend Primary 1 of primary schools.
Many kindergartens are named "Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten" or "English Kindergarten", emphasising their focuses in English-language education. Some kindergartens are part of schools that offer primary, secondary and even matriculation courses.
In India, kindergarten is divided into two stages- lower kindergarten (LKG) and upper kindergarten (UKG). Typically, an LKG class would comprise children 3 to 4 years of age, and the UKG class would comprise children 4 to 5 years of age. After finishing upper kindergarten, a child enters Class 1 or Standard 1 of primary school. Often kindergarten is an integral part of regular schools. In most cases the kindergarten is run as a private school. Younger Children may also be put into a special Toddler/Nursery group at the age of 2–2½. It is run as part of the kindergarten.
In Israel, a fully developed kindergarten (or Gan) system has been developed to cope with the extremely high percentage of working women in society. There are 2 streams, private commercial and state funded. Attendance in kindergarten is compulsory from the age of 5 years. Private kindergartens are supervised by the Ministry of Education and cater for children from 3 months to 5 years. State kindergartens are run by qualified kindergarten teachers who undergo a 4 year training. They cater for children from 3 to 6 years in three age groups; ages 3-4 (Trom Trom Chova), 4-5 (Trom Chova), 5-6 (Chova). At the conclusion of the Chova year (5-6) the child will either begin or primary school or will repeat the Chova year, if not deemed psychologically and cognitively ready for primary school.
See the article Preschool and daycare in Japan
In South Korea, children normally attend kindergarten between the ages of 5 and 7. It is followed by primary school. Normally the kindergartens are graded on a three-tier basis. They are called "Yuchi won" (Korean: 유치원).
In Kuwait, children go to free kindergartens from the age of four to six.
At private schools, Kindergarten usually consists of three grades, and a fourth one may be added for nursery. While the first grade is a playgroup, the other two are of classroom education.
The kindergarten system in Mexico was developed by Rosaura Zapata (1876-1963) who received the country's highest honor for that contribution.
In 2002, the Congress of the Union approved the Law of Obligatory Pre-schooling, which will make preschool education for 3-to-6-year-olds obligatory by 2009, and place it under the auspices of the federal and state ministries of education.
Kindergartens in Singapore provide up to three years of pre-school programmes for children aged 3 to 6. The three-year programme, known as nursery, kindergarten 1 (K1) and kindergarten 2 (K2) prepares children for their first year in primary school education. Some kindergartens further divide nursery into N1 and N2.
 United Kingdom
The first year of school in England and Wales is called Reception and comes before Year 1. Pre-school daycare (which is not part of the school system) is called Nursery School or just "nursery". There are also part time playgroups. The term 'kindergarten' is very occasionally used instead of 'nursery school', but this is mainly for marketing purposes.
Kindergarten is not a commonly used term in Scotland. Nursery is the pre-school education of children aged 3 and 4 and usually takes place within a primary school setting, although stand-alone nursery schools do exist. Pre-school is followed by Primary 1 which is the first year of compulsory school education.
In Wales, the first year of school is called Dosbarth Derbyn, a rough translation of Reception into Welsh. The following year is Primary 2, then the next Primary 3, which is the equivalent of the American first grade, and so on until Primary 7, where primary education ends and pupils enter secondary education.
 United States
In the United States (and Canada) kindergartens are usually administered in an elementary school as part of the K-12 educational system. Children usually attend at ages 5–6, but sometimes as old as 9. Kindergarten is considered the first year of formal education although the child may have gone to pre-school/nursery school.
 Function of Kindergarten
Children attend kindergarten 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, mathematics, 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. They are usually exposed to their first idea of friendship while they play and interact with other children on a regular basis. 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, misspelled, 'Kindergarden'.
Kindergarten may be half a day in length (either morning or afternoon) or may be a full day.
 Kindergarten Activities
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.
"High/Scope Learning" is a style of learning that is used in many kindergartens in the United States. This learning style is very interactive and requires a lot of the children and the teacher. It employs a "plan, do, review" approach which enables children to take responsibility for their learning. First the children "plan" their activities. The teacher provides choices of activities for the kids which are age appropriate and initiate learning, whether through problem solving, reading, language, math, manipulatives, etc. This planning takes place, usually, when the children walk in the classroom. Then they "do" their activity. Some of these activities include such things as a water table, building blocks, a creative dance area, "dress up" area, a reading area, and a drawing table. The majority of the children's time is spent in this "do" activity. The last part of this approach is the review part. This is where the children and the teacher go over what they have done that day. This can be done in a large group, especially if there is a theme for the day that is used in all activities, or individually. The children discuss what they did and how they liked it and what they learned from it. This high/scope learning has grown in popularity and is accepted largely because it allows for the children to be responsible for their own learning.
All day kindergarten is becoming increasingly popular as a way of helping to close the achievement gap. United States school districts that have not yet moved to full day kindergartens are looking for funds to extend the school day. The United States are offering incentives for school districts, especially in the poorer districts. Benefits of full day kindergarten include an easier transition into first Grade. According to an Education Week article teachers feel that students are exposed to more than they would be in a two to three hour day. Students adjust well to the extended day. There are opponents who question the reason for full day kindergarten. There are those who feel that all day kindergarten is not an effort to improve student achievement, but more of an effort to fulfill obligations of the No Child Left Behind Act. They feel that full day kindergarten is a contributing factor for the teacher shortage.
The following is a list of articles which pertain to the subject.
*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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Koopmans, M.(1991). "A study of longitudal effects of all-day kindergarten attendance on achievement." Newark, NJ: Newark Board of Education. ED 336 494.
- 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." Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics.
- McGill-Franzen, A.(2006). "Kindergarten literacy: Matching assessment and instruction in kindergarten." New York: Scholastic.
- WestEd(2005). "Full-Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities." San Francisco: WestEd.
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Updated; April 19, 2007
Come and have fun with free crafts for toddlers, preschool, daycare and kindergarten (ages 2 - 6). Visit a theme to find crafts tied to fun preschool lesson plans and learning activities that include easy instructions and a list of materials needed. Most are printable paper crafts and the templates (patterns) are available in color and black and white format to color, decorate or trace patterns over recyclable materials.