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Arts are skills or crafts that are inspired by an individual to share and convey information of one's thoughts, ideas, and emotions, beliefs among them, others and the world around them. Elliot Eisner (2005) similarly states that arts can enhance individual or group communication when spoken or written language - medium of communication with others failed.
In some cultures, art is part of everyday life, whilst others it is non-essential. Hence, art education is a challenge for national policymakers to decide whether it is necessary for art to be taught in the education curriculum (AARE). Furthermore, teaching approaches of arts in schools are often structured and supervised by adults, who made rules about how art should look, and children's incompetent or incapable of making artistic decisions (Perry, Rosemay & Irwin, 2000).
However Derham (1961) advocated that adults should not question about children's ideas in art works, even opposed any activities that are stereo typing and led by adults. Upon exploring early childhood theories, art education in early childhood laid emphasis on importance of social interaction (Bodrova & Leong,2007). Smith (1993) further described it as a new way of cooperative learning, where children and adults interchange skills, knowledge and ideas enhance children's thinking and challenged children's perception on arts.
In 1980s, research findings by Kindler (1996), Wright (1991) and Matthews (1999) documented and shown importance of teacher's role in guiding and enabling children's capacities as creative, competent thinkers. Hence, arts education yet again shifted from a natural, self-expression to a dynamic, social interaction between adults and children in learning (McArdle & Piscitelli, 2002).
Community collaboration with children and adults provides opportunities of learning which combine physical, intellectual, creativity and problem solving skills of young children (Kolbe, 2001). Studies conducted by Pugh (2010) found significant differences of children who are highly involved in arts activities and those with little or no involvement, where they are found to be more confidence and positive in their attitudes and behaviours.
In addition, Brouillette (2010) studies that art enable children to create a healthier social competence. Art education facilitates children to develop good understanding of responses, emotional expressions and actions of other people (Davies,1993). As children learn to understand what to be expected from others and what social speech should be used in different situations; the ability to explore and use art media to express one's desires, feelings, and even fears (Rogers & Evans, 2008).
Research findings proven by Rogers and Rose (2007) as interpersonal interaction increases, excellent conflict-resolution skills and problem solving disposition come simultaneously. In the fast pace era of twenty first century, Rogoff (2003) finds children are often pushed to experience lots of exciting learning activities, and no longer have a balance between calming and highly stimulated activities. Consequently, children faced difficulties and challenges of settling in classroom structure. Furthermore, it also added to children's inadequate proficiency in social competence and interpersonal interactions with others. (Brouillette, 2010)
Therefore, many countries shifted the focus and favoured active constructive, discovery learning in area of arts, and closely linked to their conceptual education framework. (Perry & Irwin, 2000)
When young children explore, experiment, use and interpret information with others, it increase peer acceptance, build positive peer relationship, improve school attendance, deepen interest in school activities' participation and construct a more competent and confidence self-esteem in academic learning, as well as show interest in beliefs, cultures and values of others and compare these with theirs(Smith,1992).
Pretend, dramatic, fantasy, imaginative plays strengthen social emotional development
Providing young children opportunities to imitate and copy actions in pretend, dramatic, fantasy, imaginative plays from each other, children learn explore, experiment and create new ways in critical thinking and problem solving (Kindler,1996b). Planning, sharing, contributing and supporting to narrative information of plays, offer children rooms to take on different roles in the cast (Rogers & Evans, 2008).
It aids and enhances children to work together in small or big groups. Winston and Tandy(2009) stated as children explore in group working, they learn how their peers use resources, materials and problem solve in activities. Art is about thinking and how the brain works, comprehend and interact with others (Arts in Schools Project,1990).
Dialogue can be one of the fundamental ways children learn while forming and considering in creative expressions in plays (Pugh, 2010). Social exchanges and verbalised reflections of children involve on their reflective thinking and thinking process upon understanding (Wright, 2000).
The conversations for children to create and what they learn from their creation; these are interactions of children where they share with each other from pretend, dramatic, fantasy, imaginative plays (Davies,1993).
Furthermore, plays can be designed to bridge increasing gap and needs different diversity of multicultural children in schools in society when it is integrated into classroom structure. For instance, integration of early literacy skills and arts cultivate cultural appreciation in early childhood classrooms.
Imagine how a new child's first school experience in totally new environment - fearful, social stress, cultural ambivalence, inability to communicate, what the child might face if school teacher has no knowledge and strategies to create a culturally responsive classroom. However, if school integrates and creates opportunities for the new child to contribute information of native culture and encourage other children to explore stories, art, music, and dance of the new child's home culture. Together, they would learn each other's unique life experiences, discovering things that make them so different, and yet special.
Children's affective needs of cognitive, emotional and intellectual safety in the school environment must be met in order for children to flourish academically. Children who feel insecure or socially
Isolated, shut down cognitively. Emotionally stressful homes and or school environments have
detrimental effects on children.
Musical Exploration enhance academic learning
When a child embarks into musical exploration, reading of musical notation such as basic elements of rhythm and pitch helps foundation building for music. (Bahna-James, 1991) Though learning domains of music and mathematics may seem contradictory, an increasing number of studies on children's participation in musical activity and cognitive development in mathematics indicate a close connection (Young & Glover,1998).
For instance, rhythm in musical notation is numerical pattern of beats that represented by series of musical notes, ranging from whole notes (1 beat per measure) to quarter notes (4 beats per measure) and so on (Wright, 2000). Fundamental mathematical concepts are involved in order to understand the notes. Children have to have the ability to count the beats and the capability to fraction notes to equal proportion.
Musical composition helps children to foster sequence of musical development through stages of imaginative play, imitation and mastery. In musical developmental stages of a child, the child's exposure, experience and mastery the environment, promote the developmental sequences in cognitive enhancement.
From the introduction of rattle shaking and recurrence over vocal sound by caregiver at infant age, invention of 'Babbling' Musical at toddler age, imitation of musical expressive gestures in pre-school and formation and creation of new songs at school age. The child has completely discovered the schema of musical development. If opportunities are continue and revisited, composition of the child's development grows stronger and deeper as the ability to improvise, invent and create music. Swanwick (1998) mentioned that in Piaget's theory the equilibrium of assimilation and accommodation establish sensori-motor intelligence, which subsequently builds up conceptual intelligence of a child in cognitive development (Anning, 2009).
Producing a work of art engages children to generate ideas, and explore ways to express their emotions. Painting, playwriting, composing, artistic creation provide opportunities for them to experience the process of art making, which is valuable for enhancing children's ability to learn within and beyond the arts.
Art is one of the medium that people develop cultural sense and personal identity (Anning, 2009). Art education in early childhood education, aids young children by providing opportunities to think and learn in new ways, communicate with others and enrich the space they live in (McArdle & Piscitelli, 2002).
School and teachers responsibility and ability to find inventive ways to utilize limited resources and time available to ensure children's academic achievement, enhance social and emotional growth of young children from different divergent background. Hence, by providing positive effect on these developments on children especially 'at-risk' children, it would nourish sensory, cognitive, social, emotional and neurobiological system. Moreover, it helps to develop potential leadership skills, positive self-esteem and self-confidence, cooperative of future generation.