Art in Early Childhood
University of Wollongong

Early Arts Intervention

Thinking about creativity and the domain of visual arts

About the Initiative

The Early Arts initiative is a multi-year campaign which aims to raise awareness amongst parents and early childhood educators about the importance of early arts and creativity for children aged 0-5. In support of this broad goal, the project includes the design, delivery and evaluation of professional development in the domain of early childhood arts and creativity for practicing early childhood educators and professional gallery educators.

Project Theme:

“Arts exploration and developing identity in the early years: Who am I?”.

About Early Arts Intervention

The project theme of “Arts exploration and developing identity in the early years: Who am I?” is deliberately open-ended to allow for individual and contextual interpretation and exploration by the early years educators and children in each setting. For many early years educators, the notion of empowering children to explore and communicate their own perceptions and experiences (rather than complete teacher-centred, structured activities) may be new and potentially challenging. Therefore, this invitation to guide children’s play-based engagement with arts materials through the lens of a broad conceptual topic:

  • effectively supports children and their educators to explore and express their self-identity and belonging through multiple and differentiated visual arts experiences.
  • Allows for children to make their own marks using a range of visual arts materials, without preconceived products in mind.
  • Supports the inclusion of children with additional needs by facilitating open-ended arts experiences to support successful engagement and learning regardless of a child’s physical, developmental or cognitive capacity.
  • Enables both teachers and children to potentially explore a range of concepts relevant to their own context and the interests of the children at each setting.

Objectives:

  • Engage in “teacher-led, research-based practice in kindergartens with time for teachers to work in communities of practice to develop professional practice and judgement through active reflection” (Baker, 2015b, p. 984);
  • Conduct research to examine the pedagogical knowledge and confidence of early childhood teachers (Ismail & Jarrah, 2019);
  • Support the professional development of kindergarten and nursery teachers to “foster and nurture positive play experiences for children” (Baker, 2015a, p. 33).
  • Support early childhood teachers to examine and confront their previously unexamined beliefs in order to develop alternative pedagogical approaches that will benefit children (Baker, 2013);
  • Deliver high-quality early childhood teacher education (Baker, 2015b) and professional development of the early childhood educator workforce in the region (Baker, 2015a)
Training program

Anticipated outcomes:

Anticipated outcomes
  • Enhance the knowledge, skills and confidence of Early Childhood teachers and educators to implement arts-rich learning experiences with children.
  • Raise parent awareness about the importance of the arts to support children’s holistic development, wellbeing and to enact their right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts” (UNCRC, article 31).
  • Children engage in high quality arts learning experiences. A broad theme exploring children’s identity may result in, but not be limited to, self-portrait explorations, explorations of cultural identity and belonging through play-base artmaking using clay, fabrics and environmental textures and explorations supporting children to visually express their own perceptions of belonging and place using the photography, drawing and painting processes.
  • Build the capacity of arts educators to implement arts workshops and learning experiences with children aged birth to five. Concurrent with the children’s exploration of identity the theme also embraces the professional development intervention goal to support educators in early childhood settings to expand their own teaching identity, skills, knowledge and confidence to implement art-rich learning experiences in support of children’s holistic learning, development and wellbeing.