World Art Day 15th April 2024: Nurturing Creativity in Early Childhood Education – ‘Becoming With Art’

World Art Day, a celebration to promote the development, diffusion and enjoyment of art, was proclaimed at the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2019. Art nurtures creativity, innovation and cultural diversity for all peoples across the globe and plays an important role in sharing knowledge and encouraging curiosity and dialogue. These are qualities that art has always had, and will always have if we continue to support environments where artists and artistic freedom are promoted and protected. In this way, furthering the development of art also furthers our means to achieve a free and peaceful world.

(Audrey Azoulay-Director-General of UNESCO)

As we recognise World Art Day this April 15th, let us consider the significance of the Arts in Early Childhood, and how the Arts and embracing creativity from a young age, can lay the foundation for holistic development, fostering cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Art can sparkle as a medium for young learners to explore their imagination, experiment with colours, textures, and shapes, and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Through painting, drawing, sculpting, music, dance, story telling and other forms of artistic expression, the Arts can encourage self-expression and build self-esteem as children proudly showcase their creations. It fosters a sense of belonging and cultural appreciation as they explore diverse artistic traditions and narratives. 

The Early Years Learning Framework V2.0 highlights the vision of ‘Belonging, Being, and Becoming’, accentuating the interconnectedness of learning, identity, and community. The Arts play a pivotal role in realising this vision, empowering children to connect with their sense of self, their peers, and the world around them. The Early Years Learning Framework V2.0 recognises the Arts as fundamental to children’s identity formation and overall wellbeing.

Engagement in artistic endeavours nurtures cognitive abilities, fine motor skills, and socio-emotional development. Moreover, it cultivates critical thinking, problem-solving, and resilience from an early age. By encouraging self-expression and embracing diversity in artistic expression, educators pave the way for inclusive learning environments where every child’s voice is valued and celebrated.

On this World Art Day, let’s consider a commitment to nurturing young minds through creativity, recognising the transformative power of the Arts in Early Childhood. By providing opportunities for artistic expression, we empower the next generation to become imaginative, empathetic, and socially conscious individuals, poised to make a positive impact on the world. Let’s consider a world where every child’s creative spark can ignite into a flame of endless possibilities and consider the power of the arts to bring people together, to inspire, heal and share. 

‘Becoming With the Arts’ that might:

  • Reinforce the links between artistic creations and society
  • Encourage greater awareness of the diversity of artistic expressions
  • Highlight the contribution of artists to sustainable development
  • Shine a light on arts education in schools, fostering inclusive and equitable education

When we ask: ‘What does art do?’, we open up spaces for reflective, responsive expressions of how art shapes us. Hence the art is doing the doing, it is telling, impacting, challenging, and soothing. It is teaching, poking, mystifying and reconfiguring time, place and events that have created our understandings of life on this planet.

Consider:

  • What is happening when I am engaging with this piece of art and why am I feeling the way I am, or thinking the way I am?
  • Why is it that this piece of artwork impacts me one way or another?
  • Why is it I connect with some artwork or art forms and not others?
  • How might I engage this kind of experience with children in everyday practice?

(Becoming With Art in Early Childhood- Curated by Red Ruby Scarlet, ‘Introduction’, p 9)

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