International Early Childhood Education and the Arts
By Barbara Campbell, Kindergarten Curriculum Coordinator
Complementing a previous post by our school’s arts coordinator, I would like to contribute some thoughts from an early childhood education perspective. The arts are critical in international early childhood education. They provide a clear and effective means through which teachers can effectively and naturalistically engage very young children in the development of higher order thinking skills such as those outlined at the top of the Bloom’s Taxonomy thinking skills pyramid. It is impossible to engage in the arts without some level of creativity, analytical and evaluative skills. With active and ongoing exposure to the arts young children invariably strengthen their capacities in these skills. Engaging our youngest learners in the arts supports them at their foundations to develop habits of mind necessary to their achievement of significant successes in their lives. One only needs to reflectively consider wider societal positions of prominence to recognise the power of those who hold strong creative, analytical and evaluative dispositions.
In addition to strengthening the intellectual capacities of our youngest learners, the arts is a major means through which the young children express themselves. Through arts based practices young children can communicate their thoughts, feelings and understandings of the world. The arts—for our youngest learners who do not have the same vocabulary and writing communicative capacities of adults—are thus an extremely helpful tool to use when supporting them in their language development. With so many children in our international schooling context being English as a second language learners (ESL), strongly emphasising the engagement our children in arts based practices is of particular benefit. With arts based practices teachers are provided an initiation point for engaging in conversations with children and can engage them using age appropriate English language development scaffolding strategies.
At TIS we strongly value collaboration and the development of the children’s intercultural sociality. Playfully engaging our kindergarten children in collaborative arts projects has been a key means whereby we have acted to support the children’s development of cross-cultural sociality.