Thursday, November 12, 2009

Expressive Arts Education

All forms of art are a natural endeavor to communicate with the world around us. Art is the vehicle in which we can explore, and create the world we live in. Both verbal and visual language develops early in life and is practiced by all children. When the finished process if the main priority we end up not experiencing truly what art can offer spiritually, and emotionally. Children often loose their creativity if it is not nurtured. The result is deprivation of expression. The early childhood teacher’s goal should be to introduce children to a variety of art forms. It is my philosophy that the emphasis of expressive arts is the enjoyment of producing art and enhancing the student’s sense of personal worth and self esteem.

Creativity does not have a universal definition. Creativity is an expression of human individuality. To create is to bring into being. Creation is the act of creating or producing. A creator is one who creates. All human beings are creators. Creative roots develop early in childhood. It is here where creativity unfolds. A child has endless creativity due to the innocent nature of childhood. Every child is an artist, musician, and composer.

A young child who is in a creativity supportive environment will naturally exhibit characteristics of a creative individual. Creativity is not a special gift given to a special few. Creativity is the result of being in a supportive environment that allows freedom of expression. The early years of a child’s life are a critical time of development and experiences during these times develop into life long learning. Research concerning brain development in children addresses “windows of opportunities “. These critical times must be acknowledged to emphasize the importance of introducing young children to art and music. These critical periods are sensitive times when the brain is primed for certain types of learning to take place.

The process is more important that the product when concerning expressive arts and children. Expressive art curriculum should seek to enhance self-expression of students and to foster individual creativity. Through experiences with a variety of medial, students should be encouraged to express themselves artistically. During early childhood, children should be introduced to a variety of media and skills. The curriculum should allow for enough repetition of media and skills so children may gain a level of confidence in their abilities. The emphasis in early childhood skills involve eye and hand coordination, to transcribe visual perception. These activities must be developmentally appropriate, geared to their age level and interest. Projects should be coordinated with classroom teacher and art teachers.
Creativity and creative arts are the essential components of the development of the whole child. Therefore, it t is essential to bring creative arts into the classroom. Children thrive in environments where arts are the way of life. Play, drama and dance are all forms of creative expression. Teachers should expose children to various forms of art daily. Children love to design, create, and explore. Children love to move to music and sing. Children love to build with blocks, mix paint colors, and shape things out of clay. Children like to get their hands into materials and to move their bodies. A creative curriculum realizes the necessity of integrating the arts throughout the daily experience inside the classroom. All children benefit when they encounter a creative teacher.

A creative teacher understands that art is another language children use to express what they know and how they feel. The creative teacher knows the arts promote social and emotional development. The process of creating art and music promote physical development. Cognitive and language development occur when children reproduce what they already know. Art introduces the child to technical vocabulary. A creative teacher is sensitive to a child’s needs when arranging the classroom to integrate expressive arts. Children need a safe, warm, place to allow for the undertaking of risks and challenges and the growth and expression of one’s ideas and knowledge.
A creative teacher is flexible. A creative teacher picks up and listens for children cues. A creative teacher weaves math, science, social studies, art, music, drama, and play into the fabric of the day. The creative teacher understands the importance of building and maintains a positive self-esteem within a child, and I recognize the need to nurture creative problem solving. Schools are there to meet the needs of the community and society. With expressive arts, schools seek to increase consciousness of individuals in the community. Schools have an obligation of helping students to recognize and develop their own special talents. This is why it is essential to be a creative teacher. The creative teacher provides her students with the opportunity to explore and appreciate the worlds of art, music and drama. With art in the classroom, the teacher seeks to develop within the student an appreciation and respect of and for both the community and the individual.

Culture has a large role in expressive arts. Art and music are visual and auditory records of the past. Art is an expression of the past and an indication of the future. Art is a means of chronicling social order and cultural values, traditions and customs. Art and music provide an opportunity to communicate across cultures. Music, drawing, dancing, and drama provide a way for appreciating and understanding other cultural values. Arts can bridge the gap between cultural differences in the classroom. A child may feel accepted through the experience of art, music or dance. Arts provide documentation for struggle, celebration, and cohabitation in our diverse world. The arts provide authentic cultural voices. Young children should be introduced to many different cultural form of art such as dance, music, food, and language. The creative teacher seeks to provide students with an environment rich in cultural expression.

Music begins in infancy. Babies respond to music almost right away. Music can enhance the intellectual development of children, and stimulate the brain. There are several positive benefits to listening or to playing music. Music is an important component in early childhood education. Throughout history, music has held a large role in the lives of children from all cultures. Music can bring families and classrooms closer. Music is a soother, healer, and a powerful resource for the creative teacher.

Music develops small motor skills in preschoolers. Their small motor coordination improves as they gain better control of their bodies through jumping, walking, and clapping to music. Children recognize patterns in music. Music calls for movement. Children love to move to music. A creative teacher plans opportunities for musical development while encouraging children to make their own. The teacher should introduce an instrument and then let the children explore the sounds on their own. The teacher does not have to have a natural talent for music. The teacher does not have to perform or compose. The creative teacher is a facilitator, and plans appropriate opportunities using music. The teacher recognizes different levels of ability and encourages all students to listen and make music. The teacher and her student benefit from a class filled with musical opportunities. Music can set the mood, cue transitions, focus attention, energize and relax children.

To dance is to discover a world of sensory awareness. Dance does not limit itself just to body movement but to an inside awareness of movement. Learning is enhanced when the body and mind come together. Dance is an art form. A highly expressive form of creative individual expression. Locomotion skills are enhanced through dance. Dance provides many ways to travel to places. Dance builds positive self-esteem, self-reliance, and confidence in moving. Dance is a form of communication through moving. Dance provides children with an opportunity to work cooperatively, and share. Experiences in dance can help a child respect the space of others as they learn about personal space and shared space.

There are many benefits of dance: the development of large motor skills, communication, awareness of feelings, and development of a clear body image. The brain develops faster when stimulated by movement. Children learn rhythm, and the ability to feel a beat. When children can use their bodies expressively in space and can successfully feel and move to a beat, they are ready to experience movement in a more complex setting. Dance develops body awareness, and allows children to move freely. Dance in early childhood holds an important role in developing body awareness, space, and time. Dance fosters relationships and builds self-awareness.
The expressive arts give children a means of communicating creativity, and imaginative thinking. It is human nature to express oneself and create in an artistic manner. Every child should have opportunities for imaginative expression. Time and materials should be available to each student. Developing creative imagination in children sets the stage for further education in the future. Today’s children are creative, flexible, imaginative and risk takers. Expressive arts seek to enhance these characteristics. The schools of today and tomorrow must arm our children with art as a weapon, against hate, discrimination, and racism. Schools must give children an education filled with opportunities for children to grow as thinkers, risk-takers, creative decision makers, and expressive human beings. Today schools must change their view of arts as an “extra” and view them as a basic human need.

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