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 the research says about the visual arts and how they contribute to children’s learning and development, as well as some practical tips to help teachers and children express themselves through the visual arts.
Ideas from Dr. Louisa Penfold's webinar about how teachers can plan a material-based play space and scaffold children’s creative learning.
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