By Karen Elzinga 30/06/2018
How your child's teacher can use artistic and creative environments to promote young children's learning and development in early childhood according to the National Quality Framework, and the Early Years Learning Frameworks that they must follow in Australian Education and Care Centre's.
The creative environment is perfect for promotion of the National Quality Standard (NQS)-1.2.3 Child directed learning, and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) 4.4 and 5.3. Children are encouraged through these outcomes to learn and develop through play in a safe space where creativity and imagination are supported. Children can explore their world and its meaning by making individual choices about what and how they can create using a range of mediums, through the building of relationship connections with people and places, and via various technologies (ACECQA, 2018; DEEWR, 2009). Children can learn a plethora of skills satisfying the EYLF outcome-4.1 involving skills in curiosity, how to cooperate and share with others, they gain confidence in their ability and creativity, and they showcase commitment and persistence to the task (DEEWR, 2009). According to the ELYF Practice- learning environments, a space needs purpose, to enrich and reflect the lives of its users, and be responsive to their requirements and interests, whilst catering to individual abilities (DEEWR, 2009). This could be achieved by displaying children's finished artworks giving them pride in their accomplishment and a sense of belonging as prescribed by the EYLF-2.1. (DEEWR, 2009). The area should also contain flexibility, with tables large enough to cater for art and craft activities with enough space for material investigation, for children to spread out, and for educators to interact effectively with each child (DEEWR, 2009). For a creative environment like this to be successful key elements should be included to support children's artistic learning and development. These include the provision of quality learning materials so that children have opportunities to engage, explore and extend on their prior learning in a constructivist way of learning as proposed by developmental theorist Piaget (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). This could mean the provision of both open-ended natural and non natural materials, diversity in the mediums used for example paint, crayon, and pencils allowing for choice when creating, and supporting children's ownership of the environment (NQS PLP team, 2013).
By encouraging responsible environmental practices children feel a sense of belonging not only to the environment but to the other children; they begin to understand their need to share responsibility and ownership for the following issues:
Safe and wise materials use
Promotion of environmentally safe cleanup
Recycling of unused or recoverable resources to use at a later date
Room maintenance in cleaning up and the wiping down of tables (NQS PLP team, 2013).
Sustainability- how it should be incorporated into every aspect of ECEC (Cook, 2010).
Educators in early childhood Education and Care (ECEC) must analyse the knowledge that can be gained by children across various key learning areas within the frameworks provided to them, this is how creative environments can met those framework requirements.
In creative arts children learn a multitude of skills including to value innovation, imagination and originality. For children to acquire new skills they must first be able to understand how materials or processes work, this occurs through a process of curiosity and experimentation. If a child can understand for example that when black paint is painted over white paint the white paint disappears then fundamental knowledge is learnt, however if they do not see success in their experimentation, than new knowledge may be lost quickly (Killen, 2007).
The EYLF links all five of its learning outcomes to creativity (DEEWR, 2009). Specific examples of these stem from EYLF outcome 1.2, children learn how to problem solve, risk take and make decisions. In the face of challenges they learn to persevere through the unexpected, and be confident and engaged learners negotiating and sharing with peers (DEEWR, 2009).
EYLF outcome 4 and specifically outcome 5.3 explicitly describes how children's creative learning can stay with them and impact them throughout their lives and include children using self expression and imagination skills. Children investigate culture and ideas through drawings, paintings, drama, dance, music and storytelling teasing out ideas through play. Children can also manipulate resources and materials and explore new technologies whilst building upon their own understandings and others, of how materials work. They can utilize critical thinking and engage in co-constructed learning methods that are transferable to other settings (DEEWR, 2009; Early Childhood Australian, 2013).
In EYLF outcome 5 children's creativity can flourish as they imagine scenarios for stories, scripting ideas into key concepts, they share components of their culture through symbolic patterning and experiment with the expression of ideas and thoughts using multiple media resources (Early Childhood Australian, 2011; DEEWR, 2009).
The role of the educator in early childhood education and care is to promote learning and development, here are some ways that your child's teacher could be doing that in the creative and artistic environment.
The artistically set up environment satisfies the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Practice of intentional teaching, this is done by educators recognising challenging and engaging experiences that establish critical thinking techniques and provide environments where problem solving and open ended questioning can occur (DEEWR, 2009). The educator's role in creative arts is to provide a nurturing environmental collaboration with the child where they are teaching through the NQS 1.2.1- Intentional teaching, picking up on teachable moments whilst allowing children's capacity for freedom to experience the NQS 1.2.3- Child directed learning outcomes of thinking and making choices for themselves according to their view of the world (Cutcher, Boyd, 2018; ACECQA, 2017). This allows children to develop materials competency which when determined grows creativity and the expression of ideas. Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory surmised that children when supported by a collaborative and scaffolded approach to learning by educators and peers more knowledgeable than them, that they will engage more productively and learn more effectively (Cutcher, Boyd, 2018).
This includes educators, teachers not confident in artistic knowledge and delivery need to develop further to reach a state of self efficacy, so they can adequately for fill the creative needs of children. When basic arts knowledge is met by greater understanding, teachers provide more engaging programs through better planning. They also utilize more innovative teaching methods and retain a higher commitment to teaching, as proposed by NQS 7.2.1-Continuous improvement (Garvis, Twigg & Pendergast, n.d; ACECQA, 2018).
When educators understand the art process they plan creative endeavours in larger blocks or several sessions of time appreciating that children need time to generate and think through ideas and learn specific way of working (NQS PLP team, 2013). These include cutting, collage and pattern making, drawing, weaving with textured threads, using large needles to stitch, using tools to carve clay, and constructing using various materials (McLachlan, Fleer & Edwards, 2013). Educators utilise such art activities so children can:
Develop children's fine and gross motor skills
Incorporate children's cultures through pattern making and symbolic meaning drawing from the children sense of community and family (McLachlan, Fleer & Edwards, 2013)
Explore line and mark making techniques
Explore shape, form, density, weight and dimension
Colours, luminosity, transparency and texture (Kolbe, 2009).
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