Art is a language, for young children. At the same time as infants, toddlers, and preschoolers grow their vocabularies, they also communicate through visual and performing skills. They are like scientists who touch, see and try what’s happening! Art is a matter of understanding how the world works. As kids make marks and then draw on paper, they figure out how adults use symbols to communicate and represent ideas. When they build, they’re learning physics principles, such as balance, stability, and weight. Every day, kids express their creativity! A very young child swirl their fingers in a bowl of oatmeal or smear spinach on their faces, their first fingerpaintings! Toddlers pile up blocks, knock them over, and find out a bit about what being an architect is all about! They move the markers back and forth, filling the page with colorful arcs. Preschoolers draw pictures of their families and pets, or illustrate imaginative stories.
Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up – Pablo Picasso.
Creative arts are activities that actively engage the children’s imagination through art, dance, drama or theater, puppetry and music. Creative arts include children in all domains – cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical. The activities are deliberately open (not prescribed), encourage different thinking and support the process without paying particular attention to the product.
Mayesky (2013) offers teachers eight ways to help children express their natural creativity through the arts.
- Help children accept change. Fear and anxiety are the enemies of creativity.
- To realize that some problems have no easy answers.
- To recognize that many problems have many possible answers. The goal is to explore and discover.
- Help children monitor and accept their own feelings.
- Value children’s creativity, even when it’s messy.
- Recognize and acknowledge children’s joy in all creative endeavors.
- To appreciate their own unique characteristics and expressions.
- Help children persevere. Encourage them to explore, discover, and explore again.
Culture influences thoughts and behaviours, regarded not only in terms of ethnic or racial diversity, but also other dimensions such as religion, geographical location and socio-economic status (Bradley & Kibera, 2006). Chen-Hafteck (2007) cited “culture has a strong influence on child development” (p. 141) and as young children give meaning to objects, images, events and people as representations of their culture, their visual arts education should be considerate of their cultural heritage (Lind, 2005). In teaching the arts, educators should be mindful of the different cultural associations each child has so they may benefit from art opportunities. Childhood can be seen as a “social construction within a cultural-historical context” (Graue & Walsh, as cited in Richards, 2007, p. 23) therefore a child’s context must be acknowledged as learning occurs through social, cultural and historical influences (Plows, 2014).
Early Childhood, Cherishing Young Children’s Creativity, Infants through 5 years Janet Brown Stivers, M.Ed./ Donna Schudel, M.A.
The importance of creative arts in early childhood classrooms, by Hannah Mills
Early childhood: Learning through visual art – Jenson