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The Arts: Promoting Language & Literacy of Young Children

Louise J. Corwin

Louise J. Corwin

Art has traditionally been an important part of early childhood programs. The arts in early childhood education is spontaneous, creative play—drawing, painting, self-expression, singing, playing music, dancing, storytelling, and role playing.

Pre-school age children love the arts because that is what they do naturally. The arts engage all the senses and kinesthetic, auditory, and visual modalities. When parents, early educators and early childhood teachers engage and encourage children in the arts on a regular basis early in life, they help lay the foundation for successful learning and school success. The Early Years Matter!

In early childhood vernacular, the arts include children’s active participation in a variety of experiences—dance, drama, fine arts, and music. These activities allow them to express themselves through the arts and appreciate what they observe.

To be ready for school, children need to reach core milestones and master key skills and abilities in seven domains of learning including the arts.

Important questions to ask include:

  • What skills in the arts do young children need?
  • Why are the arts important to school success?
  • How can parents support the arts? 

Ready At Five believes that parents/families are a child’s first teachers and are vital to enhancing the school readiness of their young children. Ready At Five has addressed the link between parent involvement and school readiness by developing Learning Party Curricula—interactive, hands-on sessions for parents and children that promote and enhance knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Guided by trained professionals, they enable families to socialize while learning first-hand activities to promote learning, creativity, and healthy development. Ready At Five currently has Learning Party curricula in five Domains of Learning: Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social and Emotional Development and Play: Promoting the Healthy Development of Young Children.

The sixth Learning Party series, currently being developed, is the arts. Sharing with families the role of art will encourage their support of their children’s learning and provide opportunities for shared experiences and discussion between children and parents.

One of the purposes of these Learning Parties is to be able to highlight the importance of art in young children’s learning and development and to share different elements of an art program with parents/families in a developmentally appropriate way.

These Learning Parties will provide time for children and their parents to create, move, dance, make music, while building overall school readiness abilities—especially core language and literacy skills. Visual Arts will encourage drawing, painting, creating images from observations, memory, and imagination, and creating artwork that explores the use of color, line, shape, and texture. These activities will help children gain important pre-writing skills.

Theatrical elements and drama-based activities help children build pre-literacy skills, including story recall, role play, and following simple directions or verbal cues. By promoting creative movement and musical experiences (singing, playing instruments, and listening to music), children are able to experiment with vocal sounds (pitch, tone, and range), beat, rhythm, and tempo—all of which support pre-reading skills.

Through The Arts Learning Parties parents and their children will develop abilities and skills that have application and connections in many other areas of learning, which include: Art and Cognitive Development, Art and Socio-Emotional Development, and Art and Motor Development.

Most importantly, parents and children will develop an appreciation for the art of other people and cultures, and the confidence to express their own thoughts and feelings through art. Far from creating individual prodigies, the integration of making and enjoying art at the Learning Parties will result in the enhanced development of the children and the skill level of parents participating in the Learning Parties.

In addition to the Learning Parties, Ready At Five is developing monthly ParentTips aligned with The Arts Learning Parties. They will focus on key topics and activities that parents can do at home with their children to support their development in The Arts.

These tips will be distributed monthly (beginning September 2013) to our database and will be posted on our website and Facebook page. Until then check out the ParentTips in the other domains on our website.

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