Teaching Young Children…Martin Luther and Young Children

Dec 21st, 2017 | Category: Teaching Young Children
By Michele Gnan

Where would we be in early childhood education without Martin Luther? When we think of Martin Luther, the hammer, nail, theses and the church door immediately come to mind, not early childhood education. It’s only after studying his writings that we see his influential opinions concerning young children.

Many textbooks on the history of early childhood education, and of education in general, credit Luther with proposing the foundational ideas for the status and direction of education today. Not just education in Germany, but across the globe.

Luther advocated for the teaching of all children. Not just children of a certain age, all children, meaning everyone in the household including infants. Considering the time period of his suggestion, this was a radical idea to be sure. His recognition of the education of young children would contribute to the idea for universal education in the next decades and centuries.

Along with the education, Luther shaped the idea that parents are the child’s first and most important teachers. This concept is verbalized on a daily basis in early childhood as we reinforce this idea with parents. Early childhood teachers rely upon the connection with parents and view this as a key component of their classroom.

Not only did Luther want education for all children, he suggested that society should provide that education. He even extended this idea to include community involvement in education. Luther wanted community entities to be aware of school initiatives and to be extensively involved in the institutions for education. I have to believe this was a radical idea because if children were not worthy of an education, certainly no involvement from the community would be necessary.

Today, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) exists as an accrediting entity setting the standards for early childhood education. Core aspects of NAEYC are for early childhood providers to ensure a strong family and community connection within their program. In fact, NAEYC suggests that a center cannot be considered high quality without these components. Martin Luther was the first to suggest that these vital components should be a part of a young child’s education.