From East to West, and throughout human history, the care of young children has been vital to social success and advancement. Early education specialists are fascinated to delve into past practices of the care of young children as a foundation for looking ahead to best practices for our future!
Did you know that the earliest record of “Infant care” (care of young children) that relates most closely to modern facilities and methods started in the late 1820’s in urban Europe? Rather than being merely “day nurseries,” they provided academic instruction. With 150-200 pupils each, their days consisted of care routines, moral training, and child care. An emphasis on multi-age interaction was present as older children helped instruct younger children.
One of the pioneers of this fresh approach to early education was mill owner Robert Owen, who provided early learning opportunities in New Lanark, Scotland in 1816. His theories were amazingly cutting edge, acknowledging that
“…teaching should be organized around children’s interests, and that learning should occur through play and exploration with ‘some useful object within their capacity to comprehend'”*
We love that our inquiry approach, which encourages children’s natural desires to learn, is supported from the earliest beginnings of our industry!
*Read more from the source of this excerpt at http://www.naeyc.org/yc/columns/ourproudheritage/0515