An exemplary art program is an important component of the Children’s House curriculum. Early art education is a highly effective method of helping children achieve a better understanding of themselves and their world. At the Children’s House, we offer children many opportunities to create art, look at and talk about art and become aware of art in their everyday lives.
Our art curriculum is based on art historian Jonathan Fineberg’s study “The Innocent Eye.” This study reveals that many advanced modern artists (including Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Kandinsky and Miro) not only looked to children’s art for ideas, but also borrowed heavily from children’s drawings. Helping children establish the link between children’s art and modern art is crucial in motivating their artistic expression.
Art education is a developmental process for children. As children develop and mature, their artistic expression and understanding will evolve. For example, three year-olds are not concerned with realism in their artwork. At this stage art is about learning to manipulate colors and sharpening fine motor skills. A three year old will begin to talk about his or her drawings and start making connections that a doodle on a piece of paper can become something real.
Between the ages of four and five, children have better control over their fine motor skills. Drawings become more realistic and pictures begin to tell a story or depict a feeling or activity. A square, for instance, may become a house and a circle may become a face. Children at this stage also start to draw animals, trees and other natural objects, showing the beginning of understanding size and relationships. They start planning which designs, symbols and colors they will use before they begin.
The best thing that we can do to nurture children’s development is to let them explore and experiment without imposing rules and restrictions. Some children need a suggestion to get started, while others have very definite ideas of their own. Both approaches can blossom into wonderful creations. Positive art experiences are very important to build a child’s confidence so he or she will be willing to try new ideas.
To help children realize their own artistic potential, our art program helps children explore the qualities of art materials, especially acrylic paint and the variety of techniques to which it lends itself. We also encourage children to use this knowledge in making images of importance to them. Children’s canvases and framed paintings are displayed in galleries throughout the building.