Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) believed that children’s play was the most important way for them to learn. According to Palmer (2003), Froebel argued that in earliest childhood, young children’s play was their primary way of learning about the real world. Froebel thought that young children should be able to freely develop at a young age as apposed to being schooled. The term child-centered originated with Froebel. He thought children’s intellectual limitations prevented them from gaining knowledge of the world abstractly, so they needed to be placed in the centre of things (Palmer, 2003).
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Froebel was his idea of kindergarten. He gets credit for the name kindergarten, which literally means “child’s garden”, and it prospered long after the Froebel (Palmer, 2003). In his view of kindergarten there would be an actual garden for the children. According to Palmer (2003), he proposed that each child in kindergarten have an individual garden, and all share two large gardens, one for flowers and one for vegetables. Fun.
Palmer, J. A. (Ed.). (2003). Fifty major thinkers on education: From Confucius to Dewey. New York, NY: Routledge.