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German Words in the English Language #3: ...

German Words in the English Language #3: Kindergarten

Oct 11, 2021


As part of the American school system everybody knows โ€˜๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ปโ€™. Itโ€™s the grade before first grade and can be half-day or full-day. In the US, ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป is not mandatory but most children attend.

๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป literally means โ€œchildren gardenโ€ or โ€œgarden for or of childrenโ€, a place where children can grow and be nurtured. The concept was first introduced in Germany by Friedrich Frรถbel in 1837 when he opened the first ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป for children ages 3-6. In developing the concept Froebel was influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and their ideas that children were naturally curious and active learners. The activities he offered in the ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป were singing, crafting, telling stories, and playing in nature.

The first ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป in the US was opened by German immigrant Margarethe Schurz in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1856. It catered to the German community. The first English-language ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป was established by Elizabeth Peabody in Boston in 1860. Soon charities around the country funded ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ปs to take care of the children of factory workers. The focus then was still the whole child and the development of their cognitive and social skills through play.

The focus of a German ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป has changed much from its conception almost 200 years ago. In the US however, a ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป is now a grade in the school system attended by 5-year-olds where they learn to read and write and do math. The equivalent to a German ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป would be โ€˜pre-schoolโ€™. Children ages 3 to 5 can attend a pre-school where they play, sing, do crafts, and receive early instruction in letters and numbers.

The American ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป would be equivalent to the German โ€œ๐—ฉ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฒโ€ which ironically translates to โ€˜pre-schoolโ€™. The names are basically switched. A โ€œ๐—ฉ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฒโ€ in Germany is not mandatory for children and is not offered everywhere. Many kids go from ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป straight to first grade at the age of six.

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