Friday, 8 September 2017

Shape a genius with the Father of Kindergarten

Shape a genius with the Father of Kindergarten!

Did you know that the foundation of geometry and physics is laid in the kindergarten years? Yes, it is. Children interact with the basic principles of geometry and physics when they play with blocks! And that is why the kindergarten years are important and so is play in these years. Because after all play is the work of childhood. So if you want your child to be a genius buy some wooden blocks of various sizes and shapes today. Not the plastic variety that interlocks and have ‘set’ designs for the child to copy. But simple shape and colour blocks and set your child on the journey to learn and love physics and geometry for life!

Every child goes through kindergarten but how many parents or teachers actually know the meaning of the word or the founder of kindergarten. Today in India kindergarten has become K.G and it stands for reading, writing and number work only. But is that the real kindergarten?

Friedrich Froebel, a German educationist was the founder of the kindergarten system. “Kindergarten” is a German word which means ‘children’s garden’, i.e., a place in which young human plants are cultivated.  Froebel regarded the school as a garden and the teacher as gardener who carefully tends the little human plants under his care, and helps them to grow to beauty and perfection.

According to him the development of the child is to be through play.  He said, “play is the most beautiful and most spiritual activity of man at this stage.  It exhibits freedom and creative activity.  It satisfies the child, for it gives expression to so many of his instincts.  In play, the child makes the internal external and so the work of teaching in the kindergarten system is to be done in the play spirit.  The child will be and should be taught everything through play.”

For the complete education and training of the child Froebel devised a series of ‘gifts’.  Yes, he did not call them ‘toys’ or ‘material’ but ‘gifts’, because that is how he wanted them to be presented to the child. The gifts comprise of carefully graduated series of materials that possess all the novelty of playthings, yet they form the basis of his educational method.   

They are to train the senses of sight and touch, to give the child an idea of size and surface, and to present the child a correct idea of number.  The gifts are to be given to the child in a certain order.  The gradation and order of gifts is determined by the principle of development.  The gifts are altogether twenty in number but here I will describe the first four. 

Gift I- consists of six coloured woolen balls three in primary colours, red, yellow and blue, and three secondary colours, orange, green and purple.  The activity consists in rolling them about in play.  Thus they develop in the children the idea of colour and material, form, motion, direction, and muscular sensibility.

Gift II- is composed of a sphere, cube and cylinder made of hardwood.  In playing with these the child notices the difference between the stability of the cube, and the mobility of the sphere.  He/she observes that the cylinder is both stable and movable, and that is harmonizes both the qualities in one.

Gift III- is a large cube divided into eight smaller equal cubes: from these the child can build up a number of useful artistic forms such as benches, steps, doors, bridges, etc. And for this reason the third gift is often called the first building box.  The child can also gain elementary ideas of addition and subtraction through these.

Gift IV- consists of the large cubes divided into eight oblong prisms in each which the length is twice the breadth and the breadth is twice the thickness.  This helps the child to construct different kinds of buildings and patterns when combined with the third gift.

Froebel’s gifts were not ‘marketed’ well and so got lost over the years. Montessori did refine them in her didactic equipment. But both of them promoted the use of blocks and that is the best way to shape children’s learning about shapes and colours and children can play their way into the world of genius! SO GIFT YOUR CHILD BLOCKS TODAY. Froebel’s gifts are available on many websites; do gift them to your school.

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