ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
COMMUNICATION FROM THE BOARD OF EDUCATION CONCERNING KINDERGARTENS
January 25, 1899
The first kindergarten was established in 1837 by Friedrich Froebel in Blankenburg, Germany. Its purpose was to meet the educational needs of children between the ages of four and six through the agency of play. Froebel's ideas concerning preschool instruction gained popular acceptance and kindergartens spread throughout the leading cities of Europe and then those of North America. This country's first English-speaking kindergarten was set up in Boston in 1860. St. Louis organized the first public school kindergarten in 1873.
The Chicago Free Kindergarten Association was formed in 1881. Its purpose was to establish free kindergartens in the poorer sections of the city and to operate a kindergarten normal training school. The Chicago Froebel Kindergarten Association and the Chicago Kindergarten College received permission in 1888 from the Board of Education to conduct, at its own expense, several kindergartens in rooms provided in public schools. State legislation passed in 1895 allowed communities the local option of establishing kindergartens as part of regular school programs. In Chicago in 1897 the public schools already had forty-five kindergartens with a total enrollment of 3,221. The council acted favorably on this communication.
Points to Consider
What was the Board of Education asking the mayor and council to do?
What are kindergartens?
Which skills are children between the ages of four and six capable of learning?
Should taxpayers be required to support preschool education? Why?