Approaches used in early childhood education in the 20th century


Early Childhood Education commonly termed as ECE refers to the intervention programs that are provided to children before compulsory schooling. The concept of early childhood education began at the beginning of the 20th century.

Prior to this period, early childhood education for children around the world was marginalized. The proponent of early childhood programs was Johann Pestalozzi who was a Swiss educator. The concept was later developed by Friedrich Froebel who was Pestalozzi’s student. The following essay examines the approaches used in early childhood education in the 20th century.

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The essay also provides a conclusion based on the comparison of the two approaches. The reason why the approaches work and how they can be best implemented is also discussed. This study is important as it recognizes the need on ensuring that children are well prepared for success while young (Feeney, Moravcik, Nolte, & Chritensen, 2010, P.240).

Approaches used in early childhood education in the 20th century

There are two main approaches that are used in early childhood education in the 20th century i.e. the Kindergarten model and the nursery school model. These two approaches of early childhood education were enhanced by adopting ideas and best practices from western countries and the former Soviet Union. Kindergarten is derived from German word kinder which means ‘children.’Kindergarten concept of early childhood education began in Germany and refers to an educational experience among children before they joins their first grade.

The concept was invented by Friedrich Froebel in 1837. This concept was designed to enhance the transition from a home based schooling to a formal schooling.Originally, Kindergarten mode of ECE acted as a play based program that ensured that a child developed socially, emotionally and physically. This concept is based on the principle that children should be allowed to grow freely.

This model has been adopted by many states among them the United States where children are required to attend kindergarten before joining their first grade. The concept has enabled children to learn and view the world from a different perspective. Through this concept, young children are separated from older children and adults and thus their special interests are well catered for.

The nursery school model is the other model of Early Childhood Education. The Nursery school model is part and parcel of the primary education that allows children to provide children with an opportunity of joining primary school at the age of five. This concept allows a smooth transition by facilitating the acquisition of skills i.e. it enables children to learn how to read and write.

The nursery school model plays an important role as far as later academic achievements of students are concerned. This model uses a series of specific programmes that enables children to integrate well with others, acquire technological skills and professional guidance from teachers.

This approach is widely used in Italy and France where many pupils joins nursery school as classmates. Usually, the model requires that the same teaching practices be adopted countrywide (Charter, & Geneix, 2006, P.12).


Over the last few years, more attention has been accorded to early childhood education by states, parents and researchers all over the world. The reasons behind Early Childhood Education vary. For instance, as more and more women continue to join the labor market, the provision of non-parental care has increased. Both the kindergarten and nursery school approach of ECE has played an important role of enhancing academic performance among students.

Also,these approaches have acted as a means of protecting young children who are considered to be risky. The increasing demand for ECE coupled with the availability of infrastructural facilities such as learning institutions have seen more young children being enrolled in kindergartens and nursery schools.

These approaches of ECE are best implemented by ensuring that there are competent early childhood teachers. Policy should be directed towards ensuring that teachers have the required expertise. Criteria for training ECE teachers should also be sought. The teachers should also be adequately compensated so as to ensure that they assume professional teaching practices.

Reference List

Charter, A & Geneix, N. (2006). Pedagogical approaches to early childhood education. US: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Feeney, S., Moravcik, E., Nolte, S., & Chritensen, D. (2010). Who Am I in the Lives of Children? (8th Ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.


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