New Zealand Kindergartens inc

Kindergartens – first choice early childhood education service.

Professor Helen May elected President of International Froebel Society


NZ Kindergartens congratulates Dr Helen May, Professor of Education, Otago University on being appointed President of the International Froebel Society.

The International Froebel Society provides a forum for the development, discussion and promotion of the educational principles of Frederick Froebel, the founder of the kindergarten movement.

In rural Germany in 1937, Frederick Froebel established a place for young children to learn and grow with trained teachers and a structured programme focussed on learning through play. In 1840 Froebel named the learning institution a ‘kindergarten’. At the time, this approach to teaching young children was revolutionary and not without opposition. When the Prussian government ordered all kindergartens closed in 1851, the teaching ideas, principles and practices of Froebel were taken beyond Germany by dedicated kindergarten teachers.

The kindergarten movement spread internationally including to the United Kingdom, the United States and to New Zealand. The first kindergartens were opened in New Zealand in the late 1800s and the first kindergarten association, the Dunedin Kindergarten Association, was established in 1889. Froebelian principles remain clearly visible in the kindergarten curriculum today.

Helen May was the first professor of early childhood education at Victoria University and is currently the Professor of Education at the University of Otago. She was integral to the development of the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood national curriculum Te Whāriki and has authored numerous books and publications including People, Places and Play in the ‘Child Gardens’ of Dunedin, a book celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dunedin Kindergarten Association. Dr May is a nationally and internationally celebrated early childhood education academic and historian. She was appointed President at the 6th Biennial Conference of the International Froebel Society in Canterbury, England in June this year.

For more information about the International Froebel Society, click here.


Dr Kerry Bethell, Massey University, Dr Helen May, Professor of Education, Otago University and President of the International Froebel Society, and Clare Wells, Chief Executive, NZ Kindergartens at the International Froebel Society Conference, June 2014.



Fredrick Froebel’s principles for the education of young children
  • recognition of the uniqueness of each child's capacity and potential
  • an holistic view of each child's development
  • recognition of the importance of play as a central integrating element in a child's development and learning
  • an ecological view of humankind in the natural world
  • recognition of the integrity of childhood in its own right recognition of the child as part of a family and a community


New Zealand Kindergartens Inc

Level 1, 32 The Terrace,
P.O. Box 3058, Wellington
Phone: 04 471-0775

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