Why study art in the early years?

“Sharpening of the senses, heightening perception, the giving of form to ideas and thoughts and the fostering of aesthetic awareness are some examples of what only art can contribute.”
Kristen Ali Eglinton

Eyes Pie Arts believe that art education in the Early Years can be about so much more than messy play. Beyond sensory experiences and opportunities for mark making as a step towards early writing, the experience of engaging with and creating artworks contributes to development across all areas identified in the EYFS (Development Matters). During our workshops children engage in purposeful play (with learning scaffolded by adults) and begin to:

  • express preferences, satisfaction, frustration and grow more aware of their feelings (Personal Social and Emotional Development)
  • develop refined sensory awareness and greater dexterity (Physical Development)
  • communicate their responses and experiences with a broader vocabulary and greater ability to make conceptual connections (Communication and Language)
  • produce shapes on the page to communicate meaning in ever more sophisticated ways (Literacy)
  • grow in understanding of shape, space, pattern and size in two and three dimensions (Mathematics)
  • reflect on and respond to their experience of the world (Understanding the World)
  • make purposeful use of available resources experimentally, to solve a problem or representationally (Expressive Arts and Design).

In the same way that children learn primarily through play, many artists arrive at their ideas through methods of experimentation, trial and error, failure and having-another-go. Eyes Pie Arts learning experiences enrich and extend a child’s natural ways of learning as they:

  • inspire the imagination
  • help the child to think critically and be creative
  • nurture the curiosity required to take an active role in their own learning.

Through discussion the children are encouraged to reflect on their work as they create it, to evaluate how they feel about it and to make connections between what they have achieved and how. They are encouraged to make active choices about the ways in which they progress with their art works.

We believe that art can be made by anyone and that the creativity required is an inherently human quality just waiting to be nurtured. We want children (and the adults that participate in workshops with them) to respond to artworks with the thought “I could’ve done that!” not as a criticism but as a realisation that they are equally capable of putting materials together to make something beautiful. Everybody can choose shapes, forms or objects and combine them in a picture or sculpture to communicate an idea or feeling, or elicit an intellectual or emotional response from the viewer. It is our primary objective to instil this confidence in the children and adults with whom we work. Making art is hard work, but it is rewarding and an opportunity for growth in so many ways; Eyes Pie Arts make sure it is also fun for the children who participate in the learning experiences we provide.

Further Reading

Kristen Ali Eglinton, Art in the early years. RoutledgeFalmer: London. 2003
Sue Cox & Robert Watts [Ed.], Teaching Art and Design 3-11. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd: London. 2007

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