There has been much debate about the incorporation of creative arts in Early Years programmes. Friedrich Froebel, the father and founder of Kindergarten, believed that young children should be given the freedom to make their own art, as well as enjoy the art of others.
In a world that is progressively more and more product driven, the creative arts encourages appreciation of the process and emphasises that the method by which we arrive at the destination is as or far more significant than the final product itself.
The advantages of including creative arts in Early Childhood Education are numerous, ranging from social and emotional, to cognitive and physical benefits.
Art and Social and Emotional Development:
Young children feel a sense of emotional satisfaction when they are involved in creating art, whether it is making a collage using recycled scrap or through clay modeling. This satisfaction comes from the freedom children feel as they get to make their own choices. This extends beyond basic art as well. Dramatic play, theatre and role play are variances of creative arts, that are all specifically geared towards developing children’s social and emotional abilities. The creative arts provides a medium for young children to explore and gain control over their emotions. Providing opportunities for children to explore their emotional ranges ultimately makes them better equipped to deal with the ups and downs that will become a part of their lives as they grow.
Art and Cognitive Development:
According to researchers, the creative arts deeply fosters the development of children’s cognitive abilities. Exploring and participating in creative arts triggers the use of children’s imagination, which in turn stimulates and expands their mental capacities. Such experiences enable children to learn new things and the learning process is dependent on children’s social interactions, a term widely known as scaffolding. Scaffolding happens when a child with a smaller knowledge base increases his/her skill level by emulating an individual with a larger knowledge base, whether it is another child or an adult. For example, if a child with underdeveloped fine motor skills sees a friend enjoying using scissors, he will copy the friend’s movements and thus improve his abilities.
Art and Physical Development:
Our coordination and ability to move is composed of gross and fine motor skills and our skill level in these movements is developed throughout our childhood. The large arm movements used while painting at an easel or on large paper on the floor builds coordination and strength. The smaller movements of fingers and hands used while drawing on smaller surfaces develops fine motor dexterity and control. Childhood utilization of these areas is essential for later abilities.
Having said that, there are several measures that can be taken to create an environment that promotes creative arts.
Create an Inspiring Art Center
An art center should provide opportunities for child-centered exploration and should enable children to independently follow their imagination, while having the freedom to express themselves.
Open-ended materials such as paint, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, clay should readily be available. Allowing children to make a selection from two or three options is an excellent way for children to practice decision-making.
The creative arts cultivate children’s imagination and encourages them to become flexible and inventive thinkers. It helps develop their physical, emotional, and cognitive capabilities. It is crucial to integrate expansive opportunities for young children to engage in creative arts and such measures set the foundation for later success.