A History of Early Childhood Education in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

UBC Press
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In the early nineteenth century, governments developed kindergartens and infant schools to give children a head start in life. These programs hinged on new visions of childhood that originated in England and Europe, but what happened when they were transported to the colonies?

This book unwinds the tangled threads of this history by tracing how Enlightenment thought and Romantic ideas translated into early infant schools in England, kindergartens in Germany and the United States, and free kindergarten systems in the Commonwealth countries. The systems that emerged in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand maintained the integrity of the ideas and models that inspired them but adapted them to suit local ideas, politics, and populations. This unique account of early childhood education in comparative perspective provides fresh insight into how to reconcile educational theory and practice in an increasingly global world.

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About the author

Larry Prochner is a professor of early childhood education at the University of Alberta.
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Additional Information

UBC Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2010
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Education / General
Education / History
History / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
History / General
Social Science / General
Social Science / Social Work
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Formal programs for the care and education of young children in Canada have a history that goes back almost 200 years, yet issues surrounding services for our youngest Canadians continue to be hotly contested as we begin a new century. In Canada, early childhood care and education are striking for their tremendous diversity on such key issues as curriculum, financing, and teacher education. The range of programs and philosophies can be overwhelming for parents, practitioners, academics, researchers, and policy makers alike.

Larry Prochner and Nina Howe reflect the variation within the field by bringing together a multidisciplinary group of experts to address key issues in the field: What programs are currently available and what are their origins? How are adults prepared for work in these programs? How do children within the programs spend their day? What policies guide the programs? How has the field reflected on itself through research? There are no simple answers, but the essays in this collection contribute to a creative reframing of the questions. The authors include psychologists, sociologists, historians, teacher educators, and social policy analysts.

Early Childhood Care and Education in Canada will be of interest to students, teachers, and researchers in child study, early education, policy studies, and history. With cutbacks to early education programs, a shortage of daycare spaces, and uncertainty about future levels of support, the time is ripe for a close examination of the services we provide for our youngest citizens.

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