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How were nurseries invented?

Nurseries are common place in the modern day, but where did they first originate?

The concept of the nursery has been one that started in the 1800’s. Today, it’s common place for young children to attend a nursery in order to further their development and help prepare them for their academic career. So, with the idea of nurseries being widely accepted in modern day, just how did they get started? Find out in our latest blog!

The UK started a trend…

The idea of schooling children has been around for a while in the UK before Margaret McMillan, a Christian with an approach on child development, had the idea of not only had the idea of teaching children but also toddlers and younger. Swapping the concept of sense training and health focus for that of play and self-activity, McMillan introduced a whole new range of child development techniques used in the 1800’s. She’s widely regarded as the originator of the Nursery schooling concept, being a driving force behind child education at the time. Margaret’s sister, Rachel McMillan, also helped her sibling with the nursery concept, opening an open-air nursery in a rundown area of London in 1913. It was around that time that similar methods of teaching would develop in countries such as the USA and Italy, aiming to provide educational methods of aid to children living in poverty.

The development of American nurseries

The idea of nurseries spread rapidly throughout the United States, although the first nursery schools to be built were all privately financed, often being sponsored by universities across the country. Each nursery held a different approach towards the education of children and this was clear to see in their methods of child study. Unlike the nurseries across the UK, American establishments would cater towards the upper and middle-class children of society, whose mothers weren’t participating in paid labour. In the 1920s, the co-op nursery school was developed in the United States, something that focused on the parents aiding in the running of the nursery.

Although the idea of nursery schooling was widely accepted by the public education system throughout the 20th century, the concept was limited in its resources through its cost and the idea that the best place for children to be, when under schooling age, would be at home with their mother. Exceptions were made for children in poor urban areas and also in times of national emergency, notably in both the Great Depression and WWII.

The development of nurseries would continue for a number of years after, with projects like “War on Poverty” aiming to directly fund the educational aspect of children across their respective country and even the world. The continued increase in this area has seen the schooling systems of countries worldwide deliver outstanding knowledge and preparation to children everywhere.

So, what do you think? Is a nursery a vital part of a child’s education and can it be used to give them an advantage in early life?

Let us know in the comments below!

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