Historical Foundations of Early Childhood Education 
  Early Greece and Rome (400 B.C. - 200 A.D)

Our current ideas of education are not 'new' by any stretch of the imagination. Most of our traditions can be traced back as far as Ancient Greece, where children stayed home with their parents until around age 7, after which they began special training for their future occupation...usually that of their parents or another family member. Training was vastly different depending on your social standing and gender. The basic ideas of a well-rounded, holistic, or humanistic approach to education can be traced back to ancient Greece and its philosophers. Plato (428-348 B.C.) organized the first rudimentary 'school' when he organized his famous Academy. The Academy was a gathering place, set amongst a grove of trees, where people would come to lecture, discuss, and learn. In his Utopian
The Republic, Plato advised that nurseries be established in the community, with a curriculum full of games, music, drama, and storytelling to reinforce the values children should learn to become 'good' citizens in a productive society. Plato believed all children were born with a defined amount of knowledge, and that education served to 'remind' them of this inherent understanding of the world, and help them use it in their everyday lives. While Plato rejected the idea that education should be reserved for males and the notion of corporal punishment, it should be noticed he also advocated infanticide as a form of Eugenics. That said, Plato's ideas and understanding of the importance of early childhood education would later influence several philosophers and education experts, including his pupil Aristotle, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Robert Owen.

Aristotle also recognized the importance of educating young children and emphasized the development of the mind and the body, the establishment of good habits early in life, and recognized the value of play. Aristotle valued the world according to the senses, and organization of thought, and believed that humans could be defined as "rational animals." Among Aristotle's students was Alexander the Great, who took these teachings and spread them throughout his empire until its eventual collapse. Despite the Roman empire taking over much of Europe and the Mediterranean, Greek educational models held strong and was adapted by the Romans. Soon after, the Roman state established a systematized education for males in several cities. Of the educators in the new Roman empire, Quintilian (A.D. 35-95) found, through observation, that most children under 7 gained no benefit from what had come to be customary educational practices and techniques. He was also an advocate for play, and encouraged parents to choose their children's tutors and nurses with great care, emphasizing learning through imitation rather than intimidation.