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Children develop cognitive skills and language skills from participation in arts activities. For example, development of mathematical concept may be incorporated in music and art where children learn about sequence, position, shapes and patterns. In the case of using musical instruments to re-enact the blowing down of the houses of the three little pigs. Children may need to understand the sequence of events to relate to the beats of the musical instruments. As for art in relation to making of puppets, children may learn about shapes and positions. Language development may be incorporated in drama when children are express their thoughts verbally, for example, when they are asked for adjectives to describe the characters in the stories (Arts in school projects, 1990).
Arts education contributes to the affective development in that it helps children to develop emotions and virtues (Wintson, 2010). Children learn how to relate to each other and also to relate to the real world through activities in the arts. Through stories and dramas, children may develop understanding on moral values such as kindness, bravery and generosity. The story of the three little pigs concludes with the three little pigs living together in the brick house and the big bad wolf is killed. Children may gain some understanding on the value of caring and sharing, diligence and also that the bad will be punished. By playing games and puppetry with friends, children learn to express their thoughts and to socialise with others.
It is in the human nature to play and most activities relating to children may be seen as play to them (Swanwick, 1988). There is no constraints or barriers in play so children may be willing to explore different roles and ideas, thus they may learn more effectively (Pinciotti, 1993). Arts Education may be equated to a form of play as the activities may be child-initiated and children derive enjoyment and satisfaction from the process of playing (Dau, 1991). As in play, children learn through the processes of imitation, imagination and mastery in the arts (Swanwick, 1988). According to Piaget, imitation is a form of accommodation. When children extend on existing knowledge through imagination, they may have assimilated and achieve mastery of new information (Swanwick, 1988). These three elements of play are essential for education in arts to be effective.
Moreover, children are able to express their thoughts through drama hence allowing it to be a mean of communication (Arts in school projects, 1990). In the session where the children discuss the character of the wolf, they may be given opportunities to voice their opinions words to describe the wolf and thus promote vocabulary development. Besides verbal communication, children may express their thoughts through body movement and expression during role play. For example, children may be asked to work in pairs to sculpt the characters in the stories. By working on the facial expression and body gestures, children may learn to communicate their thoughts non-verbally.
Arts encourage children to explore and problem solve (Arts in school projects, 1990). When the children are engaged in puppet making or small world play, they may need to explore ways to make the puppets and other models. They have to work out on the space required and the proportion of the puppets when drawing them. In this way, they may learn to relate to spatial and relative context as well as to learn of ways to make the puppets such that they make sense to others (Cooke, Griffin & Cox, 1998).
Children learn to socialise, empathise with and relate to others from different perspectives (Arts in school projects, 1990). In role play, children may have different perception on the roles and thus there may be different versions of the characters. During the discussion on the roles in the group, the children may have to come to an agreement on the ideas for defining the characters. Along the way, they may acquire negotiation and collaboration skills. In the case of small world play, children are involved in building the houses with arts materials. Children share ideas about the materials, props and how to use them. In doing so, they develop communication and negotiation skills. Puppetry may break down barriers and allow children to express their thoughts through playing with finger puppets.
Arts also help to build confidence and self-esteem and provide opportunities for children to be sociable (Arts in school projects, 1990). In the case of playing games, barriers are broken down and children tend to be more relax and thus providing opportunities for social development. For example, in the activity where children experiment with musical instruments, they need to discuss and decide on which instrument best represent the sound effect they wanted to create. They may be able to gain confidence working in a team as they have the opportunities to initiate or to participate in discussion.
In addition, arts encourage critical thinking and diversity. As children share their thoughts on similarities and differences through discussion and action, it helps them to understand and accept differences in opinions and reduce prejudices. In the case of writing the letter to Mother Pig, the children may be divided into groups and each group may have different ideas for the letters. This activity may encourage children to think differently and to learn to that there may be differences in opinion. As in the case of the teacher taking the role of hot-seating the wolf. Through interviewing the wolf, children may also learn to examine the issue from different perspectives. For example, if the wolf answered that it is his sneeze that caused the house to be blown down. This answer may set the children to think if the pigs are too hasty in their judgement of the wolf. These exercises may aid the children to compromise and listen to otherââ‚¬â„¢s ideas or explanations during real life situations when there is conflict between the children.
In arts, there are so many solutions to an issue, as such it encourage thinking and exploration (Pinciotti, 1993). These can be seen in the various ways to build the houses, children can experiment with various materials to make the walls of the houses, like straws, cardboards or paint. They can also make different types of houses, like painting the house or making a model of the house. Children may be able to come out with new ideas and it may boost their self-confidence.
Dramatisation provides an excellent platform for literacy and language development. On Children may develop their aural skills while listening to the stories and when others are acting the role. They may develop on their oral skills when enacting the character or during brainstorming session (Arts in school projects, 1990). Drama is usually done in a group. As such, children need to interact and relate to their peers to brainstorm on ideas. By doing so, children learn to be sociable and pick up communication and negotiation skills. (Arts in school projects, 1990). While developing their imagination, children gain some insight of the real world, where there are diverse cultures and differences in ideas. For example, during dramatisation of a story like the three little pigs, the houses that the three pigs lived in may be different from what the children has known. In the case of Singapore, majority of the children live in flats. As such, the children may be involved in an exchange of ideas about housing around the world. They will also gain an understanding of themselves from another perspective. By extending a story during dramatisation, as in the case of Jack and the beanstalk, children may be required to consider from the perspective of the giant. Jack may be wrong to take the golden harp from the giant without permission. They create their own rules with a sense of independence and negotiation skills. Children learn self-control as they may have to abide by the rules they have set for the drama. Children may be able to gain confidence, work as a team when they develop drama activities. They may be able to be confident, initiate discussion or participate in discussion confidently (Pinciotti, 1993).
However, to optimise the childââ‚¬â„¢s learning, the role of the teacher would be important to lead the children so as to optimize their learning. Arts introduced to children depend on the expertise and interest of the teachers (Arts in school projects, 1990). If the teachers are enthusiastic and have positive knowledge on the arts, she will be able to motivate the children to take an interest in the subject, thus making learning in arts more interesting and informative. In addition, most early childhood settings seem to be take arts education as a part of the curriculum rather than to develop the curriculum from the arts.
Thus although arts may be important for the education on young children, its effectiveness may be dependent on the beliefs of the early childhood settings and teachers.