The course is made up of five elements, each of which involves two days training, separated by a gap during which participants must complete a task in preparation for the second day.
All courses are suitable for practitioners, childminders, parents and grandparents.
Element 1. Introduction: principles and practices of the Froebelian approach to early childhood education
The course focusses on the importance of introducing Froebelian principles, and articulating these in relation to current practice. Each element of the Froebel short courses emphasises the importance of family. This will be throughout the course. The book lists included help link Froebelian principles and practices to current early childhood contexts and to look at what is and is not Froebelian.
Practical work during both days will enable participants to experience, learn about Froebelian principles and approaches to practice, and to articulate and discuss them:
- Who was Froebel? Explaining some of his terminology in modern language
- The Gifts and the wooden blocks,
- The Occupations and the workshop experiences,
- See film and examples of engaging with nature and physical outdoor learning
- Play and the Symbolic Life of the Child
- Mother songs and Movement Games with practical examples
Participants will take part in a practical day, and will be asked to carry out observations looking for what is Froebelian in their practice, returning on day 2 to revisit , discuss, share and try out ideas in practical workshops.
Element 2. The Gifts (and modern wooden blocks) and the Occupations (workshop experiences)
Element 1 will have provided a base for further detailed exploration of blockplay and a taster of the Occupations (workshop experiences).
Froebelian concepts will be introduced in relation to blockplay which illuminate practice and help practitioners to discuss and encourage blockplay so that children deepen their understandings of mathematics, science, time, space and patterns, play scenarios, storying and narratives and work comfortably with or alongside each other, while constructing their own or joint structures, safely and co-operatively.
The Occupations (workshop experiences) will be explored so that practitioners are confident about what and how to provide a range of educationally worthwhile experiences for children in well thought through ways as they deepen their understanding of Froebelian early childhood educational approaches. The use of low or non-cost materials has been valued throughout history and globally. Froebel pioneered the view that natural materials, found or recycled materials and connection with everyday life experiences and community have great educational value if carefully planned, presented and used with children. The role of the adult is huge in encouraging children to think and to be creative.
Element 3. The importance of engaging with nature and outdoor learning
During the day Froebel’s approach to the garden (rather than tarmac playground area) will be explored. The training venue for Element 3 will need to provide opportunity for participants to be outside so that practical learning takes place and reflection on learning through nature is considered with depth and implemented.
Open ended, creative play and exploration will be emphasised through the Froebelian practice of making connection (using loose parts).
There will be a focus on risk and adventure, problem solving with outings into nature and helping children to engage with it.
The key role of the adult will be emphasised. Aspects highlighted when learning through, with and in nature are:
- awe and wonder / spirituality (relationship with self, others and the universe)
- mathematical concepts exemplified and observed with children in nature
- the importance of direct experience engaging with nature and the special sensory aspects it affords
- its rich investigative potential
- opportunities for supporting the development of observation skills
- links to environmental concerns and responsibilities.
Element 4. Play and the symbolic life of the child (representation and the expressive arts)
There are many approaches to play. The Froebelian focus will be explored with practical examples given so as to give tangible form to this most complex aspect of childhood development and learning. In this Element participants will be able to deepen their understanding of traditional provision such as blockplay, small world play, dressing up clothes, making dens, doll play and the narratives and characters that populate play scenarios.
Children are both symbol makers and symbol users according to the Froebelian approach, and the role of the adult is enormous in enabling children to be imaginative and creative as they have thoughts, ideas, feelings and make relationships. Painting, drawing, constructing (woodwork, found/recycled materials, clay and other malleable materials, construction kits, blockplay, sand, water) and a wealth of ways which Froebel used to encourage and develop these aspects of children’s educational experiences. These are found in practice today, but are they used in Froebelian ways?
Element 5. Lullabies and family songs, finger plays, action songs, movement games - firm foundations for later literacy
The importance of singing to and with babies and young children will be explored. This will begin with the cross cultural features of the lullabies we sing to our babies everywhere in the world. Or do some cultural contexts encourage this more than others? Does it matter? Froebel thought it did. Modern research agrees with him.
Froebel developed the idea of finger plays. During the day these will be explained and explored in practical ways. They contribute to later literacy in very enjoyable ways if carefully thought through and used.
Froebel developed action songs, on the spot and with travelling movements. These also give firm foundations through which literacy develops later. The enjoyment of action songs in a group is deep, and encourages social sensitivity and a collaborative spirit of working together. Narratives, (storytelling) and characters emerge. Nursery rhymes enhance the action songs.
The course developers and tutors
Tina Bruce, on the recommendation of Professor Maurice Craft, the then Chair of the Froebel Trust Education Committee, led the pilot work developing the Froebel short courses, which can be linked together to form a whole course in the spirit of Froebelian unity.
A grateful acknowledgement of those who gave generously of their time as Volunteers in developing this Froebelian work and during the pilot work: Jane Dyke, Paula Philips, Helen Tovey and Jane Whinnett. Thanks also to Jane Read, Sally Howe and Lucy Parker Ball for their support and encouragement with expertise from the accredited Froebel Certificate Course at the University of Roehampton and to Lynn McNair for sharing expertise from the accredited Froebel Certificate Course at the University of Edinburgh. Thanks to the Kolkata team for their support and discussions of implementation of quality Froebelian practice: Sara Holroyd, Jill Leyburg and Kate Razzell.
The endorsement to teach the short Froebel courses is from the Froebel Trust. The courses are administered by Early Education. Those who will tutor the short Froebel courses during the first wave are:
- Sally Cave
- Stephanie Harding
- Debby Hunter
- Mark Hunter
- Tricia Johnson
- Stella Louis
- Thelma Miller
- Kathryn Solly
- Felicity Thomas
- Helen Tovey
The tutors will work in pairs, and the same pair will teach both days for an element. All the endorsed Froebel tutors all have successfully undertaken training in tutoring the Froebelian approach to early childhood education through the Froebel Trust.