Visual arts in ECE
The visual arts afford children a wide range of opportunities to communicate, to explore ideas and emotions, and to extend their learning.
The visual arts encompass an extensive range of visual modes that children utilise for expressing, communicating, mediating their thinking, engaging in aesthetic exploration and research. Some common examples include painting, clay work, collage, weaving, construction and photography, although there are many more modes of visual expression and exploration.
The visual arts support children’s learning in a number of ways by facilitating their ability to communicate, helping them to mediate their thinking, and promoting their creativity and imagination. The visual arts help children to develop an appreciation for diverse points of view and build their cultural knowledge. They also can offer emotional support to children, particularly in relation to transitions from home to the early childhood setting. Children also learn about the symbolic systems of representation and communication valued by their communities through the visual arts.
Research has shown the visual arts to be a rich domain through which young children can explore and represent their experiences, think through and deepen their working theories, and develop their creative thinking.
There are a number of ways to incorporate the visual arts in early childhood settings. As well as having a dedicated visual arts making space, you can make a range of materials available daily and place materials in other spaces throughout your setting. You can also talk to children about their art making, encourage them to reflect on and discuss what they have created, and engage in art making alongside them.
- What value does your early childhood setting place on the visual arts, and does this align with your centre’s overarching philosophy?
- Does your early childhood setting have a dedicated space for visual arts making?
- How do you talk to children about their artwork and invite them to discuss their work?
- How comfortable and confident are you engaging in visual arts making alongside the children?
"Early childhood perspectives are often overlooked in educational resource provision – it's fantastic to have our own information, which will help us cater for very young learners."