Creative and Media Arts Pedagogies

Arts have been in early educational and care domains for a long time in history, and are believed to have the potential to solve common teaching and learning challenges that occur in early educational settings. Globally, early childhood curricula include arts among their primary learning areas for the young children (Chapman and O’Gorman, 2022). Art learning includes practices like drama, visual arts, music, and dance (Barton, 2015). In fact, Chapman and O’Gorman (2022) explained that early childhood programs are high quality if they enable children to  participate in drama, visual arts, dance, and music.

The authors argued that arts improves learner agency, visibility of ideas, problem-solution, and chances for creative expression. Arts avail languages that children need to express and create new knowledge concerning different aspects of the world. Ewing (2011) stated that even unborn children have the ability to respond to music and music can later be used to improve the children’s cognition. Through music, therefore,children experience, create, and communicate their emotions and ideas.

Children also achieve flexibility in thinking when they experiment with rhythm and sounds. Creative dance also enhances imagination, movement, and sensations associated with strength, suddenness, slowness, fastness, etc. In a learning context, Ewing (2011) argued that comfort resulting from dance boosts self-efficacy and self-confidence, which later enhances creativity and flexible thinking . For these reasons, creative dance fits well in teaching of contents in mathematics, language, and science. Drama also promotes creative thinking and enhances problem solution skills in various areas of curriculum. Experiences from drama change the way children approach learning, evident through better thinking and positive literacy results.

Generally, arts expand children’s understanding, interpretation and presentation of symbolic languages like mathematics,mime, chemistry, and dance. Art bring the beauty that then gives the world its face (Zhhitnayal, Lysenkol, Levshinal, & Kiseleva, 2019). Early childhood education centres teach arts to help children define and interpret their culture, heritage, society, and celebrate their nation’s diversity (Ewing, 2011). While modern preschoolers introduce to children concepts in accounting, reading, and writing in preschool, they must recognise the role of creativity in understanding of scientific knowledge.

Rationale of implementing arts

Arts have a crucial role in children’s development. Barton (2015) explained that art is one of the first literacies that children acquire. In other words, children usually learn to sing, dance, and draw before they can either read or write. Afterwards, the symbols and signs learned through activities such as drawing helps children to understand the world and develop reading skills. Through arts, children develop in modes such as aural, gestural, visual, language, and movement. Additionally, children achieve physical development when they engage in arts practicals as the activities involve acquisition of fine-motor skills and refining of hand-eye coordination (Barton, 2015). Arts participation also encourages social interaction when children have to share resources, take or change roles and differentiate their artworks from others.

Social interactions also happen when children ask each other questions about how they completed their artworks or engage in evaluation of different pieces of art, and appreciate art produced by peers. Arts also boost cognitive development facilitating the use of specific languages with children (Ewing, 2011). Such activities often require the young children to explore concepts and objects in conjunction with different symbols, media, materials, subject matters, and art production approaches. Again, art activities that promote communication of concepts and ideas enhance expressive qualities in children. Children also get opportunities to grow their imagination as well as creativity and ability to experiment when they try different techniques or materials and arrange them in meaningful ways. This is more successful when a child can link their behaviours or actions to the creative outcomes.

Better problem-solving abilities are other outcomes observed in children who take part in arts education (Barton, 2015). These qualities develop when children have to produce a play, explore various colours and mediums to pick the most appropriate for their visual arts, or decide the sound combinations that work best in a performance. Barton (2015) argued that learning in early childhood centres should demonstrate recognition and application of diverse styles and approaches to learning, including arts. Without inclusion of art-based learning, therefore, the education that children receive is not holistic. Arts should change learning processes in formal education to make the curriculum more engaging and relevant to all learners (Edwing, 2011; Barton, 2015). In other words, the use of signs, symbols and several representation modes in arts should match well with young  children’s interpretation and understanding of their world.  

Discussion current arts implementation pedagogies and practices

Practitioners learn, through pre-service training, to use the modes of art pedagogy that promote learning in early childhood education contexts (Barton, 2015). Such training encourage educators to adopt Reggio Emilia approach, whose presented learning model focuses on use of expressive arts to nurture deep and critical thinking capacity of children. Reggio Emilia approach emphasises that every child possesses in-born ability to acquire new knowledge and experience (Zhhitnayal et al., 2019). The strategy causes children to express how they feel and share ideas through art-based approaches.

Children can only benefit from arts if they regularly access opportunities for quality art-based learning. Professionals and researchers, therefore, engage in meaningful research to come up with effective ways of utilising art resources such as poetry, music, visual images, and dance. When the resources are apart of the curriculum, children grasp additional concepts that could not be revealed if they relied solely on text (Barton, 2015). Only, art-based research allows access to experiential knowledge. Educators also use play-based curricula to promote engagement in visual arts. Professional support this strategy because materials and processes of visual arts education promote communication, meaning-making, and learning through play (Lindsay, 2015). Arts focus on play-based approaches to learning aims to foster innovation and inquiry. Other than play, art is the other part of first languages that children use to understand themselves and the world around (Chapman & O’Gorman, 2022). That is, children use both play and arts to express vital information.

Scholars know that arts can support transformative education and bring solutions to challenges that affect early childhood education, hence they encourage use of Arts Immersion. Arts Immersion method is a strategy with potential to support teaching and learning in broader pedagogy as it improves physical development, literacy and numeracy, and social-emotional development (Chapman & O’Gorman, 2022).Educators treat arts as a learning domain that boosts other forms of learning via Arts Immersion. As a form of teaching and learning, Arts Immersion refocuses education on the increasingly sustainable and socially just. Arts Immersion views arts as a collection of unique languages.

It is an approach that ensures arts are applied to enhance learning across disciplines for the purpose of instilling mutual understanding (Chapman & O’Gorman, 2022. Mutual understanding, here, refers to a situation where a concept, topic or issue is studied with the help of arts language. For instance, children acting stakeholders’ role in a drama where water pollution is a major issue could gain relevant knowledge in social and biological or scientific domains. Again, arts can shift children’s learning and thinking towards sustainability cultures.

Educators also involve parents in the learning process in order to address educational problems. As explained by  Zhhitnayal et al. (2019), professionals perceive that parents possess the knowledge they can use to increase possibilities for children to develop the skills required in arts pedagogy. Teachers are confident that active participation of parents in arts learning process can make the teaching and learning activities more successful as parents could connect their children to vivid impressions appropriate for childhood subculture as well as family traditions. When teachers and parents work together in teaching arts, they recreate the past and set favourable conditions for advancement of arts abilities in children. Teachers also enhance children’s interest in arts by organising expositions and exhibitions. The joint collage created in such processes change the products from individual children into a new unexpected outcome (Zhhitnayal et al., 2019).  When children see such pleasant outcomes, their interest in arts grows.  

 Critically articulate your personal position

The art implementation methods discussed above are good as they yield positive outcomes in children. However, more efforts are required to improve their effectiveness in teaching and learning of arts. First, there is a need to involve children in art-based research so children participate and become co-researchers during the research study (Barton, 215). Although parents often serve as a source of children’s perspectives in matters concerning artwork, children should participate directly as they are capable of narrating their own experiences (especially through art).

Secondly, advanced training programs are necessary for preschool teachers to enhance their knowledge of various branches of arts. According to Lindsay (2015), visual arts are essential component of play-based learning but educators understanding of arts subject content and beliefs of its efficacy affect arts pedagogical performance. Without the skills, knowledge and confidence in arts, early childhood educators may face several challenges engaging children in visual arts learning (Lindsay, 2015). Consequently, restrictions in children’s learning in this domain may experience restrictions and future generations may lack the right to learn visual languages. Training of visual arts teachers should focus more dismissing the negative visual arts beliefs formed by educators in their childhood.

Success in this area should lead to expansion of skills and knowledge of visual arts (Lindsay, 2015). Additionally, practitioners should ensure that training programs recommended for pre-service teachers have the ability to disrupt the limited beliefs of visual arts’ self-efficacy. Besides, visual arts area still lacks proper definition and early childhood educators do not know the best practices to utilise in these settings. Moreover, many of the educators in early childhood setting are not confident about their visual arts knowledge and skills. According to Lindsay (2015), absence of consensus concerning ‘art and craft’ and poor knowledge of the role educators hold in facilitating arts learning reveal shortage of clarity in this domain. To enhance understanding of visual arts, the research in this area should extend beyond ‘why’ of arts leaning to cover the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of this paradigm.

Thirdly, personal experience and beliefs of individual educators still affect the success of arts subject domain and pre-service training. Pedagogical confusion in this context is maintained by educators’ beliefs about children and shortage of robustness of professional development courses and pre-service training. In solving this, professionals must acknowledge that beliefs change with time (Lindsay, 2015). Through this approach, training, work experience, and work contexts could help to address teachers’ beliefs regarding subject domain. Yet, this is necessary because limited knowledge and subjective views of educators restrict children’s ability to explore more areas of arts. Same children will have limited understanding of arts area if they ever become teachers, and this cycle could negatively impact arts learning even in the future. As it is, Lindsay (2015) noted that beliefs and practices of visual arts are still entrenched in pedagogical methods that are both outdated and non-interventionist.

Next, educator’s role inside an arts education classroom need close examination to reveal the teaching philosophies that help early childhood teachers to focus on their work. This should help to assess the underlying conceptual beliefs which affect the educators’ practice and find the sources of educators’ beliefs and pedagogical context understanding of efficacy of visual arts. The process should also reveal the reciprocal relationships between educational settings, self-efficacy, and personal factors.  Although Arts Immersion is vital in early childhood curriculum, it is temporary in nature (Chapman & O’Gorman, 2022). If the goal of teaching and learning is to improve sustainable, therefore, additional long-term approaches must be established. This also calls for extensive research work in this area. Also, children in preschool need to be ‘arts ready’(Chapman & O’Gorman, 2022). That is, children should be able to make meaning through use of arts languages. For better outcome, arts readiness should be created before children join preschool settings.    

Conclusion and future

Art pedagogy involves application of a variety of arts for learning/teaching to aid familiarity and socialisation with artistic and creative undertakings. Art curriculum shapes the emotions, qualities, and feelings of a child. Researchers and educational professionals pay close attention to tools and technologies that support art pedagogy.

A focus on arts helps scholars to establish chances to incorporate cultural and moral standards that fit well with components of art pedagogy such as psychology, art history, studies of culture, and relevant aspects that promote educational and developmental potential of young children.

Given the extensive gap in knowledge of different art forms and proper approaches for teaching them to preschoolers, more attention should be paid towards improving teachers’ understanding of arts. Researchers should discover best strategies for teaching arts in early childhood centres.