Born in Germany in 1782, Friedrich Froebel, believing that the earliest years of a child's life are the most important, was very much a 'man before his time'. Froebel was the first to recognise that children learn best through self-activity, talk and play. Although widely accepted today, these were radical concepts in Froebel's time. Froebel felt strongly that children should have strong family relationships and bonds. This was due to Froebel's own early experiences, his mother died when he was a toddler and his step mother later rejected him. His love of nature and the outdoor world began at this time whilst spending long periods of time alone in his garden. Froebel invented Kindergartens (literally meaning children's garden) as a place for children from 2 years old to 'blossom and grow'. Before this time, attempting to teach children younger than 7 years old was not felt worthwhile. Froebel pioneered the philosophy that learning in the Early Years forms a solid foundation for later education. Froebel devised objects to help foster children's learning and engage them in 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional thinking. These were a set of 10 'gifts' (including balls, blocks and parquetry) and 10 'occupations' (formed from trades including sewing, paper cutting, modelling and constructing).
Here at Yellow Dot, we have been very fortunate to be involved in a pilot training course developed by Tina Bruce and her team, focusing on the Froebel Approach and how practitioners in Early Years can use this knowledge to benefit children today. Tina is a passionate Froebelian educator with a lifelong interest in the benefits of learning through play. She has written and edited many books and articles about the value of play in education. Our thinking and practices have been influenced by what we have learnt from Tina and her team as we have embraced the Froebelian approach. This was not a huge jump away from how we have been delivering our early years care and education, Yellow Dot has always been underpinned by Froebelian philosophies, (hence why Jane used the term Kindergarten when opening the first Yellow Dot in Millers Dale). However, by further understanding the principles behind Froebelian practices and reflecting on why we do the things we do, has helped us develop our use of natural resources, music and open ended play within our indoor and outdoor environments. We, as adults, thrive on learning and developing alongside the children at Yellow Dot learning from each other. Our Core Values fit very well with Froebelian principles, we are enjoying building on our knowledge of this approach, the philosophy of which, we believe, provides the very best care and education for children in the Early Years.
Froebel believed play to be the highest level of child development and felt it is essential to give children the freedom to choose, take control, explore, create, imagine and go beyond thinking about the 'here and now'. At Yellow Dot we believe are very fortunate to be working alongside children in their earliest years when they are filled with curiosity for the world and its wonders, we nurture this. We are developing children's learning, through play, in ways which are meaningful to each individual child, following their interests, enabling them to be self-motivated whilst being supported by their Key-people. Froebel recognised that the relationship between educator and child is significant for successful development. We follow the Froebelian belief that children need rich first hand experiences, which we facilitate as adults, provoking children's interests and then give them the freedom to explore their own ideas, supporting them with guidance from the practitioners where appropriate. Froebel called this approach 'Freedom with Guidance'. We believe the best play happens when children and adults are playing together, respecting each other's ideas and learning from each other. If Friedrich Froebel's approach to Early Years' education has inspired you and you would like to know more or to let us know your thoughts please do contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or on 023 8026 0394.