Monthly Archives: February 2022

Where Did The Garden Go? : A Conversation with Fretta Reitzes and Betsy Grob

In what seems to be some unfortunate form of memory loss, the origin of the word “kindergarten” is often forgotten. It originates from two German words,” kinder”, meaning children, and “garten” meaning garden. In Germany in 1840, the educator, Friedrich Froebel opened the first kindergarten, The Garden of Children. Fast forward to the year 2022 and we should wonder, as do Fretta Reitzes and Betsy Grob, the originators of the Bank Street Kindergarten Conference,  “Where did the garden go?”

If you are in any way involved with the education of young children, either as a teacher, administrator, parent or caregiver, it’s obvious that this is a question that needs addressing. And so,  we have this marvelous, timely conference where early childhood educators get together (virtually, this year) to celebrate four and five year olds and to share ideas of how to educate them for the twenty-first century while recognizing and celebrating the importance of prioritizing play, exploration, investigation, curiosity, music, art and movement in their young, inquisitive lives. 

This year’s conference is titled Rediscovering the Joy and Purpose of Kindergarten.  Takiema Bunche-Smith will give a Friday evening keynote “Reclaiming and Elevating the Joy, Purpose, and Power of Kindergarten.”   Maria Richa will facilitate a whole group community-building experience, “Rediscovering the Power of Art, Lines, Shapes, and Joy.” On Saturday Dr. Lesley Kaplow‘s keynote is titled, “Big Masks, Little Masks: Finding Each Other in the Kindergarten Classroom.”   Saturday, after lunch, I will be interviewed by Jackie Allen, former principal of P.S. 261 in Brooklyn, NY. We’ll discuss my more than fifty years as an educator, a very long and winding journey.

There will be many workshops on Saturday, before and after lunchtime. The entire conference will be recorded so this will allow educators from as far away as Australia, China, England, and Sweden to join us!  I hope that you and your colleagues will consider attending and that you will share all of this information with other teachers, friends, administrators and families who might be interested.

Save Friday, April 8 from 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM ET and Saturday, April 9 from 10:30  AM – 3:30 PM ET for the Teaching Kindergarten Conference. Register and let’s bring the garden back into kindergarten!