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Why Art is Important for Young Children (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

How We Can Assist Children's Learning in and through Art

It is quite appropriate to assist children's learning in and through art and to ensure that children are equipped with the skills and techniques to enable them to express their own ideas better than they might do on their own. When we have a sound theoretical background and philosophical foundation for art education, we will be continually reflecting and revising what we do with young children. We will bring expertise to our work, provide plentiful and good quality resources, and plan the learning environment so that children will be enabled to learn within it. While syllabus documents can provide guidelines for content, skills, knowledge, techniques, and outcomes, we must ensure that the children remain at the center of the curriculum and that exploration, discovery, and play remain central to the child's experience.

Symbol making and symbol understanding are central to the program. Product-centered craft activities that use adult-designed templates will not allow children to develop and use symbolic representations. Likewise, art activities that change daily or weekly do not provide opportunities for children to consistently use core art media and processes for the purposes of symbolic development and meaning making. Hence, drawing, painting, and working with clay should be the core areas of our art programs and be offered daily, so that children come to understand and use these media for cognitive and expressive purposes. Other art media or forms of expression, such as collage, construction, printmaking, constructing, and textiles, also can enrich the program, but painting, drawing and claywork should be offered daily.

Learning in and through the visual arts involves participating with and understanding basic elements and principles of art. These provide a vocabulary for teachers and children and a way of helping both to talk about their own processes, products, and the works of other artists. Children's engagement with the forms of learning in art—drawing, painting, printing, constructing, modeling, and sculpting—all involve the use and understanding of the following elements and principles within the visual-spatial domain of artistic learning.

The Elements and Principles of the Visual Arts

Line: Thick, thin, wavy, straight, soft, hard, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, radiating, jagged, parallel, angry, calm, happy, sad

Shape: Geometric, organic, rectangle, square, circle, round, angular, curvy, fluid, symmetrical, spiral

Color: Primary, secondary, complementary, warm, cool, light, dark, bright

Texture: Rough, smooth, bumpy, fuzzy, prickly, slippery

Space: Two-dimensional, three-dimensional, real illusions, foreground, middle ground, background, overlap. Space is related to compositional aspects within two-dimensional work, and form within three-dimensional work

Structural Principles: Unity, rhythm, proportion, design, balance, harmony, contrast, repetition

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