AskDefine | Define kindergartner

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  1. A child who attends a kindergarten
  2. A person who teaches at a kindergarten


A child who attends a kindergarten
A person who teaches at a kindergarten

Alternative spellings

Extensive Definition

Kindergarten (German, literally means "children's garden") is a form of education for young children which serves as a transition from home to the commencement of more formal schooling. Children are taught to develop basic skills through creative play and social interaction. In most countries kindergarten is part of the preschool system. In parts of the United States, Canada and Australia (NSW, TAS and the ACT) kindergarten is the word used to describe the first year of compulsory education. In British English, nursery or playgroup is the usual term for preschool education, and "kindergarten" is rarely used. Children usually attend kindergarten any time between the ages of three and seven depending on the local custom.


Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel opened the first kindergarten on 28 June 1840 to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of movable type. Froebel created the name and the term Kindergarten for the Play and Activity Institute, which he had founded in 1837 in the village of Bad Blankenburg, in the small, former principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany. The first kindergarten in the United States was founded in Watertown, Wisconsin by Margarethe (Margaretta) Meyer Schurz (wife of activist/statesman Carl Schurz) in 1856. Margarethe Schurz initially taught five children in her home (including her own daughter Agatha) in Watertown, Wisconsin. Her success drove her to offer her education to other children as well. While Schurzin's first kindergarten was German-language, she also advocated the establishment of English-language kindergartens. The first free kindergarten in America was founded in 1870 by Conrad Poppenhusen, a German industrialist and philanthropist who settled in College Point, NY, where he established the Poppenhusen Institute, still in existence today. The first English-language kindergarten in America was founded in 1859 in Boston by Elizabeth Peabody, who followed Schurz's model. Schurz’s older sister Bertha Meyer Ronge opened Infant Gardens in London (1851), Manchester (1859) and Leeds (1860). The first publicly financed kindergarten in the United States was established in St. Louis in 1873 by Susan Blow.

Function of kindergarten

Children attend kindergarten to learn to communicate, play, and interact with others appropriately. A teacher provides various materials and activities to motivate these children to learn the language and vocabulary of reading, mathematics, science, and computers, as well as that of music, art, and social behaviors. For children who previously have spent most of their time at home, kindergarten may serve the purpose of training them to be apart from their parents without anxiety. They are usually exposed to their first idea of friendship while they play and interact with other children on a regular basis. Kindergarten may also allow mothers, fathers, or other caregivers to go back to part-time or full-time employment.

Kindergarten in different countries


In Afghanistan, the equivalent term to kindergarten is کودکستان, pronounced as kudakistan (kudak – means child and stan – means land) and is not part of the actual school system. Children between the age of 3 and 6 attend kindergartens which are often run by government. According to law, every government office must have kindergarten area, in WIGB8v
Early Childhood Education In Afghanistan
Early childhood development (ECD) programs address the needs and development of young children from birth to 6 years of age, their families, and their communities. They are multidimensional and designed to support children’s health, nutritional, cognitive, social, and emotional abilities, enabling them to survive and thrive in later years. Reflecting cultural values, they must be deeply rooted within families and communities, blending what are known about environments that enhance optimal child development with an understanding of traditional child-rearing practices that support and/or curtail a child’s development. The goal of the ECD strategy is to help families ensure that their children reach school age, not only healthy and well nourished, but intellectually curious, socially confident, and equipped with a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Develop and implement programs to provide better start in lives to younger age children before their schools (kindergarten) as well as to support school-age children who are out of school and missed their schooling by providing them Non-formal Education and vocational training.
Background of Kindergarten in Afghanistan ECD programs have a relatively short history in Afghanistan. They were first introduced during the Soviet occupation with the establishment in 1980 of 27 urban preschools, or kodakistan. The number of preschools grew steadily during the 1980s, reaching a high of more than 270 by 1990, with 2,300 teachers caring for more than 21,000 children. These facilities were an urban phenomenon, mostly in Kabul, and were attached to schools, government offices, or factories. Based on the Soviet model, they provided nursery care, preschool, and kindergarten for children from 3 months to 6 years of age under the direction of the Department of Labor and Social Welfare. The vast majority of Afghan families were never exposed to this system, and most of those who were never fully accepted it because it diminished the central role of the family and inculcated children with Soviet values. With the onset of civil war after the Soviet withdrawal, the number of kindergartens dropped rapidly. By 1995, only 88 functioning facilities serving 2,110 children survived, and the Taliban restrictions on female employment eliminated all of the remaining centers in areas under their control. At present, no programs of any size exist, facilities have been destroyed, and trained personnel are lacking. In 2007, there are about 260 Kindergarten offering early year’s stimulation to over 25000 children.
It is estimated that 2.5 million Afghan children are less than 6 years of age. A range of both biological and environmental risk factors act synergistically to exert a powerful negative influence on the growth and development of the Afghan child. A mix of religious and tribal customs and beliefs permeates Afghan society, with kinship substituting for government in most areas. Communities are traditionally closely knit with a strong emphasis on the extended family. Roles are clearly defined and central to the social order. Decades of war, massive displacement, and changing power structures caused the collapse of community-support networks and the erosion of the extended family—one of the most basic traditional coping mechanisms. Large numbers of women are widowed and have had to assume unaccustomed and nontraditional roles as family breadwinners. One quarter of all children die before the age of 5 as a result of birth trauma, neonatal tetanus diarrhea, pneumonia, and vaccine-preventable diseases. Iron-deficiency anemia is widespread, affecting half to two thirds of children under 5 years of age. Large numbers of children are chronically malnourished; 45–59% show high levels of stunting. Malnutrition contributes to high rates of maternal mortality among adolescent girls in a culture where as many as half of all girls marry before the age of 18, and many soon after adolescence. Confronted with these interlocking threats to development, children arrive at school unable to take advantage of learning opportunities. It is not surprising that dropout rates are high. Figures from 1999 show that one in four children dropped out of school in grade 2 and almost one in two in grades 3 and 4. In addition to the child’s physical and health status, other factors contributing to high dropout rates are family issues and competing priorities for the child’s time, irregular teacher attendance, subject irrelevance, and poor quality of teaching.
At present, no policies deal with early childhood and no institutions have either the responsibility or the capacity to provide such services. In the past, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs was accountable for kindergartens, nurseries, and crèches, while orphanages fell within the purview of MOE. At present, the Ministries of Education, Labor and Social Affairs, and Women’s Affairs have expressed an interest in overseeing the early childhood sector. As the Government continues to define and restructure ministerial responsibilities, the strengths and limitations of various options, including an inter-ministerial coordination agency, should be carefully considered. While formal structures do not exist, it is not clear whether any informal childcare arrangements exist at the community level other than those provided by family members. As women enter the work force, it is likely that a market for private preschool services will emerge in urban areas.
Crosscutting Issues In addition to linkages with heath and nutrition, the early childhood sector addresses several crosscutting issues, including gender and children with disabilities. The roots of discrimination against girls, the stereotyping of male and female models of behavior, and the acceptance of male domination and violence against women are formed very early within the family. These values are reinforced in the school, community, and institutions that support children and their families. Since gender-equity issues in education begin in early childhood, the strategy suggested is one of informal community-based programs that support the capacity of families and communities to provide a fair start to girls as well as boys, and help parents better perceive the capabilities of the girl-child, thus leading to a longer period of schooling and increasing the probability that girls will enter and remain in primary school. The term “children with disabilities” subsumes a wide range of atypical disorders, from short-term behavior problems to long-term physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. In view of this, there is an urgent need to provide attention to children with these disabilities. The integrated holistic approach to normal child development provides a unique opportunity to identify these children early in life and to provide them with early intervention services. The recommended strategy is to equip paraprofessionals and families with the skills needed for the early identification of disabilities and intervention with infants and young children.

Australia/New Zealand

In each state of Australia, kindergarten (or 'kindy' for short) means something slightly different. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, it is the first year of primary school. In Victoria, kindergarten is a form of preschool and may be referred to interchangeably as preschool or kindergarten. In Victoria the phrase for the first year of primary school is called preparatory (or 'Prep' for short), as it is also called in Tasmania and Queensland. In Queensland, kindergarten is usually an institution for children around the age of 4 and thus it is the precursor to preschool and primary education. The first year of primary school education in Western Australia, South Australia or the Northern Territory is referred to respectively as pre-primary, reception or transition. See also Education in Australia.
In New Zealand, kindergarten refers to the 2 years preceding primary school, from age 3 to 5.


In Bulgaria, the term detska gradina (деτска градина) refers to the schooling children attend from 3 to 6 years of age. It is followed by pre-school class, which is attended for a year before primary school.


In Ontario there are two grades of kindergarten: junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten (referred to as JK and SK). Junior kindergarten begins for children in the calendar year in which they turn four years old. Both kindergarten grades are typically run on a half-day or every-other-day schedule though full day Monday to Friday kindergarten is being introduced. In Ontario, both the senior and junior kindergarten programs, also called the "Early Years", are optional programs. Mandatory schooling begins in grade one.
Within the province of Québec, junior kindergarten is called prématernelle and senior kindergarten is called la maternelle. Within the French school system in the province of Ontario, junior kindergarten is called la maternelle and senior kindergarten is called jardin d'enfants, which is a direct translation of the German word kindergarten.
In Western Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador, there is only one year of Kindergarten. After that year, the child begins the first grade.
The province of Nova Scotia refers to Kindergarten as Grade Primary.


In China, the equivalent term to kindergarten is 幼兒園 (Hanyu pinyin: you'eryuan; approximate English sounds, using English spellings would be yo are ywan). The children start attending kindergarten at the age of 2-3 and continue there until the age of 5. They then start primary (or elementary) school at age 6.


In France, pre-school is known as école maternelle (French for "nursery school"). State-run, free maternelle schools are available throughout the country, welcoming children aged from 2 to 5 (although in many places, children under 3 may not be granted a place). The ages are divided into Grande section (GS), Moyenne section (MS), Petite section (PS), and Toute petite section (TPS). It is not compulsory, yet almost 100% of children aged 3 to 5 attend. It is regulated by the French department of education.


The German pre-school is known as a Kindergarten (plural Kindergärten) and is not part of the actual school system. The term Vorschule, meaning 'pre-school', is used for educational efforts in Kindergärten, which are handled differently in each German state.
Children between the ages of 3 and 6 attend Kindergärten, which are often run by city or town administrations, churches, or registered societies that pursue a certain educational goal, e.g. as represented by Montessori, or Reggio Emilia.
Kita (short for Kindertagesstätte), meaning children's daycare center, as they are frequently called, can be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and may also house a Kinderkrippe, meaning nursery school, for children between the ages of nine months and two years, and possibly an afternoon Hort (normally associated to a primary school) for school-age children aged 6 to 10 who spend the time after their lessons there. Alongside nurseries, there are day-care nurses working, independently from any pre-school institution, in individual homes and looking after only three to five children up to three years of age. These nurses are supported and supervised by local authorities. Attending a Kindergarten is neither mandatory nor free of charge, although it can be partly or wholly funded, depending on the guidelines of the local authority and the income of the parents.
A special kind of Kindergarten in Germany is the Schulkindergarten.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, kindergartens provide three-year courses. Children aged eight months to two years attend the first year of pre-school in form of playgroup or pre-nursery class. Names of the years vary depending on the pre-school. After finishing the third year of study, children attend Primary 1 of primary schools.
Many pre-schools are named "Anglo-Chinese Kindergarten" or "English Kindergarten", emphasising their focus on English-language education. Some pre-schools are part of schools that offer primary, secondary and even matriculation courses.


In India, pre-school is divided into two stages - lower kindergarten (LKG) and upper kindergarten (UKG). Typically, an LKG class would comprise children three to four years of age, and the UKG class would comprise children four to five years of age. After finishing upper kindergarten, a child enters Class 1 or Standard 1 of primary school. Often kindergarten is an integral part of regular schools, though sometimes they are independent units and are often part of a larger chain, such as shemrock.
In most cases the pre-school is run as a private school. Younger children may also be put into a special toddler/nursery group at the age of 2. It is run as part of the kindergarten. ---


In Israel, a fully developed kindergarten (or Gan) system has been developed to cope with the extremely high percentage of working women in society. There are 2 streams, private commercial and state funded. Attendance in kindergarten is compulsory from the age of 5 years. Private kindergartens are supervised by the Ministry of Education and cater for children from 3 months to 5 years. State kindergartens are run by qualified kindergarten teachers who undergo a 4 year training. They cater for children from 3 to 6 years in three age groups; ages 3-4 (Trom Trom Hova), 4-5 (Trom Hova), 5-6 (Hova). At the conclusion of the Hova year (5-6) the child will either begin primary school or will repeat the Hova year, if not deemed psychologically and cognitively ready for primary school.


In South Korea, children normally attend kindergarten between the ages of five and seven (Korean children's ages are calculated differently from Western children's ages: when they are born they are one year old, rather than one day old. Also, every January 1, everyone ages one year regardless of when their birthday is: they do not age on their birthday). The school year begins in March. It is followed by primary school. Normally the kindergartens are graded on a three-tier basis. They are called "Yuchi won" (Korean: 유치원).
Korean kindergartens are private schools. Costs per month vary. Korean parents often send their children to English kindergartens to give them a head start in English. Such specialized kindergartens can be mostly taught in Korean with some English lessons, mostly taught in English with some Korean lessons, or completely taught in English. Almost all middle-class parents send their children to kindergarten. Poorer families wait until their children are much older, even 13-15 years old, before sending them to after-school academies.
Kindergarten programs in South Korea attempt to incorporate much academic instruction alongside more playful activities. Korean kindergarteners learn to read, write (often in English as well as Korean) and do simple arithmetic. Classes are conducted in a traditional classroom setting, with the children focused on the teacher and one lesson or activity at a time. The goal of the teacher is to overcome weak points in each child's knowledge or skills.
Because the education system in Korea is very competitive, kindergartens are becoming more intensely academic nowadays. Children are pushed to read and write at a very young age. They also become accustomed to regular and considerable amounts of homework. These very young children may also attend other specialized afternoon schools, taking lessons in art, piano or violin, taekwondo, ballet, soccer or mathematics.
In North Korea, children attend kindergarten between the ages of four and five. Kindergartens are divided among the upper (party) class and lower (worker) class, where upper-class kindergartens are completely educational, and lower class have little education.


In Kuwait, children go to free kindergartens between the ages of four to six.


In Mexico, three years of pre-school education is mandatory before elementary school. Previous nursery is optional, and may be offered in either private schools or public schools.
At private schools, kindergarten usually consists of three grades, and a fourth one may be added for nursery. While the first grade is a playgroup, the other two are of classroom education.
The kindergarten system in Mexico was developed by Rosaura Zapata (1876-1963) who received the country's highest honor for that contribution.
In 2002, the Congress of the Union approved the Law of Obligatory Pre-schooling, which already made pre-school education for three to six-year-olds obligatory, and placed it under the auspices of the federal and state ministries of education.


In Morocco, pre-school is known as école maternelle, Kuttab or Ar-Rawd. State-run, free maternelle schools are available throughout the kingdom, welcoming children aged from 2 to 5 (although in many places, children under 3 may not be granted a place). It is not compulsory, yet almost 80% of children aged 3 to 5 attend. It is regulated by the Moroccan department of education.


In The Netherlands, the equivalent term to kindergarten is kleuterschool. Until 1985, it used to be a separate form of education (for children aged 4-6 years), after which children (aged 6-12 years) attended the primary school (lagere school). After 1985, both forms were integrated into one, called basisonderwijs (Dutch for primary education). The country also offers both private and subsidized daycares, which are non compulsory, but nevertheless very popular.


In Peru, the term nido refers to the schooling children attend from 3 to 6 years of age. It is followed by primary school classes, which last for four years. Some families choose to send their children to primary school at the age of 6. In 1902 the teacher Elvira Garcia and Garcia co-founder of the Society cited above, organized the first kindergarten for children 2 to 8 years old, Fanning annex to the Lyceum for ladies. Her studies and concern for children led her to spread through conferences and numerous documents, the importance of protecting children early and to respond to the formation of a personality based on justice and understanding, as well as the use of methods Froebel and from Montessori and participation of parents in this educational task.

Russian Federation

In the Russian Federation Детский сад (literal translation of a children's park or garden) is an Education Institution for children usually 3 to 7 years of age. It is one of the Детское дошкольное учреждение (child preschool institution).


Kindergartens in Singapore provide up to three years of pre-school programs for children aged between three and six. The three-year program, known as nursery, kindergarten 1 (K1) and kindergarten 2 (K2) prepares children for their first year in primary school education. Some kindergartens further divide nursery into N1 and N2.

United Kingdom

The term kindergarten is rarely used in the UK to describe pre-school education. Pre-schools are usually known as nursery schools or playgroups. The word kindergarten is however sometimes used in the naming of private nurseries which provide full-day child care for working parents.
In the UK children attend nursery between the ages of three and five. Some nurseries are attached to state infant or primary schools, but the majority are provided by the private sector. In England and Wales the government provides funding so that all children aged between three and four can receive five two and a half hour sessions of free nursery education per week. Nursery forms part of the Foundation Stage of education.
In the 1980s England and Wales officially adopted the Northern Irish system whereby children start school either in the term or year in which they will become five depending on the policy of the Local Education Authority. In Scotland schooling is compulsory from the August after the child's fifth birthday, this being the official system previously used in England and Wales, though many Local Authorities used the Northern Irish rule up to thirty years earlier where space was available. The first year of schooling is known as Reception in England, Dosbarth Derbyn in Welsh and Primary One in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

United States

In the United States kindergartens are usually part of the K-12 educational system. Children usually attend at ages 5–6 but in some states, children start as young as 4. Kindergarten is considered the first year of formal education, although the child may have gone to preschool. It is, however, considered a grade.
There are many positive learning and social/behavioral benefits for children in kindergarten programs. At the same time, it is widely felt that what children are doing during the kindergarten day is more important than the length of the school day. Cebo (1990) and Mateo (1989) warn educators and parents to resist the pressure to include more didactic academic instruction in all-day kindergarten programs. They contend that this type of instruction is inappropriate for young children.
"High/Scope Learning" is a style of learning that is used in many kindergartens in the United States. This learning style is very interactive and requires a great deal of the children and the teacher. It employs a "plan, do, review" approach which enables children to take responsibility for their learning. First the children "plan" their activities. The teacher provides choices of activities for the children which are age-appropriate and initiate learning, whether through problem solving, reading, language, mathematics, manipulatives, etc. This planning takes place, usually, when the children walk in the classroom. Then they "do" their activity. Some of these activities include such things as a water table, building blocks, a creative dance area, "dress up" area, a reading area, and a drawing table. The majority of the children's time is spent in this "do" activity. The last part of this approach is the review part. This is where the children and the teacher go over what they have done that day. This can be done in a large group, especially if there is a theme for the day that is used in all activities, or individually. The children discuss what they did and how they liked it and what they learned from it. This high/scope learning has grown in popularity and is accepted largely because it allows for the children to be responsible for their own learning.
In New York and New Jersey, it is not legally necessary to go to kindergarten, although most children do anyway.

All-day kindergarten

All-day kindergarten is becoming increasingly popular in the United States as a way of helping to close the achievement gap. United States school districts that have not yet moved to full-day kindergartens are looking for funds to extend the school day. The United States is offering incentives for school districts, especially in the poorer districts. Benefits of full-day kindergarten include an easier transition into first grade. According to an Education Week article teachers feel that pupils are exposed to more than they would be in a two- to three-hour day. Children adjust well to the extended day. There are opponents who question the reason for full-day kindergarten. There are those who feel that all day kindergarten is not an effort to improve student achievement, but more of an effort to fulfill obligations of the No Child Left Behind Act. They feel that full-day kindergarten is a contributing factor for the teacher shortage. Since a large majority of preschool age children attend some form of childcare away from their home for a large portion of the day, all day kindergarten may not be a big adjustment for them mentally.


Further reading

The following reading list relates specifically to kindergarten in North America where it is the first year of formal schooling and not part of the pre-school system as it is in the rest of the world:
  • Cryan, J. R., Sheehan, R., Wiechel, J., & Bandy-Hedden, I. G.(1992). "Success outcomes of full-day kindergarten: More positive behavior and increased achievement in the years after." Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 7(2),187-203. EJ 450 525.
  • Elicker, J., & Mathur, S.(1997). "What do they do all day? Comprehensive evaluation of a full-day kindergarten." Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12(4), 459-480. EJ 563 073.
  • Fusaro, J. A.(1997). "The effect of full-day kindergarten on student achievement: A meta-analysis." Child Study Journal, 27(4), 269-277. EJ 561 697.
  • Gullo, D. F.(1990). "The changing family context: Implications for the development of all-day kindergarten." Young Children, 45(4), 35-39. EJ 409 110.
  • Housden, T., & Kam, R.(1992). "Full-day kindergarten: A summary of the research." Carmichael, CA: San Juan Unified School District. ED 345 868.
  • Karweit, N.(1992). "The kindergarten experience." Educational Leadership, 49(6), 82-86. EJ 441 182.
  • Koopmans, M.(1991). "A study of longitudal effects of all-day kindergarten attendance on achievement." Newark, NJ: Newark Board of Education. ED 336 494..
  • Morrow, L. M., Strickland, D. S., & Woo, D. G.(1998). "Literacy instruction in half- and whole-day kindergarten." Newark, DE: International Reading Association. ED 436 756.
  • Olsen, D., & Zigler, E.(1989). "An assessment of the all-day kindergarten movement." Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 4(2), 167-186. EJ 394 085.
  • Puleo, V. T.(1988). "A review and critique of research on full-day kindergarten." Elementary School Journal, 88(4), 427-439. EJ 367 934.
  • Towers, J. M.(1991). "Attitudes toward the all-day, everyday kindergarten." Children Today, 20(1), 25-28. EJ 431 720.
  • West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E.(2000). "America's Kindergartners." Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics.
  • McGill-Franzen, A.(2006). "Kindergarten literacy: Matching assessment and instruction in kindergarten." New York: Scholastic.
  • WestEd(2005). "Full-Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities." San Francisco: WestEd.
kindergartner in Bulgarian: Детска градина
kindergartner in Catalan: Educació infantil
kindergartner in Czech: Mateřská škola
kindergartner in Danish: Børnehave
kindergartner in German: Kindergarten
kindergartner in Estonian: Lasteaed
kindergartner in Modern Greek (1453-): Νηπιαγωγείο
kindergartner in Spanish: Parvulario
kindergartner in Esperanto: Infanĝardeno
kindergartner in French: École maternelle
kindergartner in Galician: Educación preescolar
kindergartner in Croatian: Dječji vrtić
kindergartner in Indonesian: Taman Kanak-kanak
kindergartner in Icelandic: Leikskóli
kindergartner in Italian: Scuola dell'infanzia
kindergartner in Hebrew: גן ילדים
kindergartner in Hungarian: Óvoda
kindergartner in Dutch: Kleuterschool
kindergartner in Japanese: 幼稚園
kindergartner in Norwegian: Barnehage
kindergartner in Polish: Przedszkole
kindergartner in Portuguese: Jardim de infância
kindergartner in Quechua: Wawa wasi
kindergartner in Russian: Детский сад
kindergartner in Simple English: Kindergarten
kindergartner in Finnish: Esikoulu
kindergartner in Swedish: Förskola
kindergartner in Turkish: Anaokulu
kindergartner in Chinese: 幼稚園

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

classmate, fellow student, grade schooler, high schooler, infant, intermediate schooler, nursery school child, prep schooler, preschool child, preschooler, primary schooler, school child, school kid, school lad, schoolboy, schoolfellow, schoolgirl, schoolmate, secondary schooler
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