Group portrait of a kindergarten class with their teacher, Mrs. Pond, in Warren, Ohio, 1898.
Although most American children go to kindergartens today, that was not always the case. In the nineteenth century, primary schools in the United States began with the first grade. Kindergartens did not become common until the twentieth century, although there were a small number of kindergartens in the United States in the nineteenth century.
Friedrich Froebel opened the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837. His theory was that young children needed an environment to play as well as learn. Children gained more through their interaction with other children. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the first kindergartens opened in the United States. German immigrants had brought the concept of kindergartens with them to the United States. It was not until the Progressive movement that most Americans began to believe that kindergartens were necessary. Most early kindergartens in the United States were located in major cities and focused on providing care to children living in poverty. Under the leadership of Mayor Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones, Toledo became one of the first cities in Ohio to open kindergartens.
Beginning with the School Foundation Program Law in 1935, Ohio's legislature provided guaranteed funding for public kindergartens. Schools were promised $22.50 for each child enrolled. In addition, the state first set training standards for kindergarten teachers at that time.