Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by sailor. sailor Wonders, “Who was Susan Blow?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, sailor!

Do you remember kindergarten? We bet you do! For many kids, it’s a happy memory. In kindergarten, children spend time hearing stories, playing with blocks, and making art. They make new friends. Some even learn to read! Yes, kindergarten is often a fun year full of new experiences.

Have you ever WONDERed who invented kindergarten? His name was Friedrich Froebel. As an educator, Froebel wanted to help kids learn through play. This led him to start the world’s first kindergarten program in Germany in 1837.

In German, kindergarten means “garden of children” or “children’s garden.” In Froebel’s programs, children used music, stories, and playtime to learn. They also spent time studying nature. This was unique. Most people in the 19th century saw playing as a waste of time.

Still, Froebel’s kindergartens caught on. It wasn’t long before they spread to other parts of the world. In 1856, Margaret Schurz started the first kindergarten in the United States. It was in Wisconsin. Kindergarten further spread in the U.S. after Elizabeth Peabody brought it to Boston.

At first, kindergartens in the U.S. were privately funded. That changed in 1873. That year, Susan Blow started the first public kindergarten in St. Louis, Missouri. Blow became interested in kindergarten while traveling in Germany in 1870. When she went back to the U.S., she continued learning about Froebel’s ideas.

In St. Louis, Blow also set up a training program for teachers. She went on to write several books about Froebel and education. She moved to Boston and later New York City. She also taught at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University. Blow continued to work until just weeks before her death in 1916.

Today, many children throughout the world go to kindergarten. In the U.S., it’s the first year of formal schooling for 98% of children. Why is kindergarten so important? Many people believe it makes the move into elementary school easier. In kindergarten, kids learn important lessons about self-esteem. They practice getting along with others. Kindergarten also gives children a chance to learn through WONDER.

Did you go to kindergarten? Do you have fond memories of your first year of school? We hope so! Of course, all the other years of school can be great, too. Which one has been your favorite?

Standards: CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.SL.1

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