Table of Contents
There is an important link between my understanding of Froebelian principles with what I read about the Gifts, my reading and experience with blockplay as well as my experimentation with Froebel’s Gifts. For example, the Froebelian principles particularly provide effective guidelines on how knowledge should be passed to the children during their childhood such as by using age relevant toys and play materials. Froebel gifts are a set of age relevant play materials, which are particularly designed to encourage child development and self-actualization. On the other hand, blockplay involve a number of activities activities such as squeezing and rolling of clay, building houses with unit blocks, matching geometric shapes and drawing lines which enhances creativity and knowledge generation among young children.
Froebel gifts refer to the educational play materials which were designed and developed by Friedrich Froebel for young Kindergarten children. Although the educational materials appear to be relatively simple, they represent one of the most sophisticated approaches to child development since they are not only age relevant but are also designed to encourage child development and self-actualization. According to Brosterman (1997, p. 29), play has a critically important role in the early education of children. Froebelian education has three important elements namely the principles of Froebelian, the pedagogy as well as the environment in which education should take place.
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The principles particularly provides a holistic view of the development and progress of a child, while at the same time recognizing their uniqueness, potential, integrity and capacity May, Nawrotzki and Prochner, 2016, p.69). For example, according to the principles of Froebelian education, child development should be holistically viewed for every child. Additionally, there should be a recognition element of every child as part of the community (Bruce, et al., 2008, p. 111). Childhood recognition as an integral right of children should exclusively do as well as incorporating the ecological view in the education of mankind in the natural world. Lastly, another important principle of Froebelian education is the ability of the teachers to recognize the uniqueness of every child’s capability, capacity, and potential.
Pedagogy presented in the Froebelian education principles put into recognition the need of parents and educators to harmoniously work for the benefit of the child. There should be an encouragement in most learning cases and not punishment. A holistic approach to learning should be the bottom line in every learning activity. In a nutshell, the pedagogy of Froebelian education is a unique one which puts students at the center of every educational activity. Students are a special case according to this theory of education, and they should be fairly treated (Froebel, 2013, p. 112). The teachers should engage their students in sensible activities, purposeful and meaningful activities to the students which are joyful, enjoyable and give the students unending satisfaction and concentration. From a point where trust is earned between students and the teachers, then the pursuit of academic endeavors will finally begin.
Lastly, the environment for studies should be conducive. The environment in itself should combine both indoors and outdoor activities which are culturally and naturally supportive of the students. The school environment should also provide free access to a wider range of materials that assist in the promotion of open-ended opportunities for representation, play, and creativity. A school environment should be an educative one and not a mere area meant for occupation. From the Froebelian principles, education is given the best guidance regarding how the students should be motivated as well as their teachers (Manning, 2005 pg. 114). This principle is, however, more concerned about how better students should be treated in a school environment to boost their performance. The teachers are not discussed at length on how well they can be motivated on the other hand to boost their relationship with students. Lack of a clear emphasis on teacher puts a critique viewpoint of the Froebalian principle of education.
My experimentation with Froebel’s gifts
My experimentation with Froebel’s gifts reveals that Froebel’s gifts create a conducive environment for growth and development. For children who will undergo through a full phase of these gifts as presented will have a full understanding of whatever challenges the face as they grow. The first play gift is based on the uncovering of the orderly beauty of nature. The theory of play and learning as presented by Friedrich Froebel develop specific gifts and occupations. My experimentation with the twenty gifts and occupations is that they are ideal for the progressive growth of children to maturity. Gifts arose children’s minds and the feeling of the consciousness of the world in which they find themselves. Gifts are liked to occupations which are skill based (Tovey, 2013, p. 117). Gift leads to the ultimate discovery of what life entails upon growth while occupation leads to invention. While gift gives insight, occupation gives power and tenacity to live. Occupations are specific to the course while the gift is universally instituted and give the children an insight of various needs in life. Gifts motivate while occupation will hinder any motivation for the betterment of one’s self. The holistic nature of gift gives it a special place in the growth and development of children into adulthood (Bruce and Gura, 1991).
The original five gifts put forward for educational purposes were published majorly to boost the childhood education. The remaining gifts were then used by Froebel in his kindergarten and later on published after his demise. These fifteen gifts extended the exploration of solids to surfaces and complex lines. This investigation moved the concrete to stable abstract representing the line surfaced solids. The abstract representation started with the feeling and narrowed down to the comprehension of basic volumes, spheres, cubes, and cylinders; the gift then moved to a progressively complex activities consisting of manipulation and combination, as well as skills of perception (Whinnet, 2012, p.115). Additional transformational processes to the gifts resulted in the formation of two and three-dimensional structures of the original volumes and the real world. Put differently, the understanding of the gift as put by Froebel is the preparations children undergo to become grown-ups.
Blockplay analysis and personal experiences at an early age
Blockplay is a practical example of exactly how childhood learning process should be conducted. Bookwork should not be an alternative in the childhood education because children are still undergoing the process of motor development hence engaging them in practical activities sounds better. Some of the activities which strengthen knowledge generation for young children include; squeezing and rolling of clay, building houses with unit blocks, matching geometric shapes and drawing lines. These are creative ideas which the children themselves at some point come up with. Blockplay, therefore, give the early childhood educationists clue on the type of children they are handling. Some children are quite creative and innovative while others are laggards (Bruce et al., 2008, p. 121).
When a teacher identifies the existence of such gaps, he/she is obliged to bridge such gaps at an early stage. This brings in another element why textbook work is not recommended at the early stage of education. In the first childhood, textbooks are the materials material we give children, the crayons, blocks, paper, paint, water, clay, and sand. According to Gura (1996, p.56), factual information is not required at the early stages of growth and development but rather a teaching mechanism which will bring the creativity element in the children. For children, the materials offered to them are the gifts we provide to them for the expression of how they tend to create and understand the complex world in which we live.
Childhood is marred explicitly with imaginative approaches to life; children imaginatively experiment with the learning materials given to them no knowing that such creative thoughts are real in the world we live (Froebel, 2013, p. 123). With the preparation of snacks with their teachers, matching of geometric shapes and the painting and bold designing of colors, children bring their thoughts, feelings, and questions to their classroom activities. In the process of experimenting, children creatively transform their thoughts into real experiences; make sense of mysterious and complex world thoughts.
Personal block play Experiences
In my childhood memories, I vividly remember taking part in the blockplay. Squeezing and rolling clay was one of my favorite blockplays as a child. From a personal view, blockplay is important for the psychological and brain growth of the children. We first explore and put into context what we want to do. Children make different and difficult explorations at the blockplay stage unknowingly. Painting a bold designing, for example, using vivid colors is one of the explorations which broaden the understanding of children in readiness to facing the external world life challenges (Manning, 2005 pg. 126). Blockplay makes learning process a spontaneous and enjoyable life experience. This is what Froebel gift as well advocate for. Froebel advocates for a situation whereby learners enjoy garnering information and knowledge. The learning process may irritate the children especially due to the technicalities involved in the process. Inducting children at an early age into learning and what life entails in a broader perspective may demotivate them. Blockplay is, therefore, the best practical way of letting children creatively innovate things in classrooms and later on transform whatever they invented in class whether the drawings or paintings into a real-world experience (Robson, 2006, p.134).
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, Froebecian principles give the best guidelines on how knowledge should be passed to the children. At childhood, growth and development are still steadily experienced hence introducing children to textbook work will radically change their view of the external world or the world of occupation. Gifts transform progressively from simple to complex one; and so is the way in which children should be converted from childhood into adulthood. These activities are essential for a transformative growth and development as children progressively graduate into different grades. The role of self-directed events and the role of blocks in the development of children should, therefore, be reviewed in the contemporary education curriculums.
- Brosterman, N., 1997. Inventing kindergarten, New York, NY: Henry N. Abrams.
- Bruce, T., Gura, P. 1991. Building a Future: Block Play and Young Children, London: Froebel Institute College Video.
- Bruce, T; McNair, L., Siencyn, S. 2008. I made a Unicorn! Open Ended Play with Blocks and Simple Materials. Robertsbridge: Community Playthings
- Community Playthings A selection of articles on blockplay available at: http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/blocks/blockbuilding.html
- Gura, P.1996. Resources for Early Learning: Children, Adults and Stuff, London: Hodder publishing.
- Froebel Trust.2013. Elements of a Froebelian education, London: The Froebel Trust Available at: <http://www.froebeltrust.org.uk/froebelian-education.html
- Manning, J. 2005. Rediscovering Froebel: a call to re-examine his life and gifts. Early Childhood Education Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10643-005-0004-8
- May, H., Nawrotzki, K. and Prochner, L. 2016. Kindergarten Narratives on Froebelian Education: Transnational Investigations. Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Robson, S. (2006). Developing thinking and understanding in young children. Oxford: Routledge.
- Tovey, H. 2013. Bringing the Froebel Approach to Your Early Years Practice. London: Routledge.
- Whinnett, J. (2012). Gifts and Occupations: Froebel’s Gifts (wooden block play) and Occupations (construction and workshop experiences) today’, in Bruce, T. ed. (2012) Early Childhood Practice: Froebel Today. London: Sage