Why are the arts important to the education of young children?

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Arts have always been associated with private experience which means it is the child's own experiences with the world. It is done during their leisure time and is not connected with the main business of life. Usually arts are associated with dream world or creating the child's own fantasy. This will help children to increase their experiences. It is known to be playful and yet associated with reality and it does not lack in seriousness. Arts can be related in three ways. First is as a former. These are people who are the composer, improviser, painter, choreographer and poet. Second is as a performer. They are the musician, actor, dancer and public reader of poetry. Third is as an audience who goes to the art gallery and concert hall to watch performances. The audience also does their own reading about the arts, listens and looks at different forms of arts. There are three elements of arts which are the mastery, imitation and imaginative play. Mastery is the skills that are associated with a certain art form. Some examples of mastery are, learning how to mix colours, learning how to make any kind of puppets, learning to find lines and textures in drawings, keeping to the consistent rhythm and singing in unison with the others. Imitation is about expressing themselves but is not just copying other people. Through imitation, children learn to express their emotions and show concern to people than themselves. Examples of imitation are moving the body to make movements of something else, using facial expressions to portray a certain character and making musical sounds to represent something. These three elements must be in action to be able to learn through the arts (Swanwick, 1988).

Drawing is one of the art form. As mentioned by Jolley (2010), there is an art educator, Heinrich Pestalozzi. He believes that the drawing exercises given to children should gradually increase in complexity and the child should not move on to the next level before achieving the current level. The child's first drawing experience will be scribbling. Although children know that pictures represents life but initially they do not think that they are drawing representations. They think that when they scribble, they are making creations. This gives the child enjoyment. Jolley (2010), states that there are four types of realism for children's progress in drawing development. The four realism are fortuitous realism, failed realism, intellectual realism and visual realism. In fortuitous realism, the child looks at the marks and scribbles and notices it has similarities with something from real life. Through this the child is making a realistic interpretation. Therefore the child will continue to enjoy scribbling and soon will notice more fortuitous similarities. For the adults, it may be difficult to see the child's interpretations but the child is gaining confidence in his ability to represent reality. The next is failed realism. Now they have the representative qualities that adults can recognise but there are some motor, cognitive and graphic obstacles that the child struggles to overcome. The child will still try to gain control of their motor movements. As the child lacks attention, only certain details that the child thinks will be included in their drawing. This describes the lack of relations between the individual elements and the picture drawn. When the child's attention is improved, they will be able consider more elements in their drawing. This also allows the child to remember more details and draw them. Through gradual process, the child becomes more characteristic of the next type of realism. The next realism is intellectual realism. In this realism the child now has wider knowledge of the details and will be able to represent each drawing in its characteristic shape. The child now holds the features that are important to the drawing in mind. Children's spontaneous drawings are examples of intellectual realism. Even though in the intellectual realism stage the children's drawing shows the full and complete shape but they do not look visually realistic. The children are bothered by that and it leads them to draw in a visually realistic way. In the visual realism stage, the child starts to select details and how they are seen. There is a related development in their drawing (Jolley, 2010). It is important to teach children drawing so as to make representational image and this will lead to carefully looking at the object, critical thinking and decision making will also be involved. Children will soon learn to draw within their own culture and its traditional influences. However, representational image making can be found in all the cultures although they are different in traditions and the way of training may be different too (Cooke, 1998).

Music is often used during class activities. Children have aural skills that are sensitive to the smallest change in pitch, timing and placing of stress. Learning music involves a wide range of activities. These activities could be singing together as a class, in pairs or individually; playing musical instruments; composing songs as a class or using musical instrument; using music to move or dance and lastly used during circle time when children gather in a circle. During musical activities, talking to children about music is a key role in learning. Using the language of musical context, children can talk about singing, playing instruments, moving, composing and listening to music. There are different kinds of talks about music and this can happen during music learning circumstances. For instance, children can talk about a song that they just learnt; talk about a musical piece played by the teacher or composed by a child in their class and talk about a taped music that they listened or danced to. They can also talk about how music makes them feel, what they like or dislike about a particular music and describe about any pictures or images the music raises. Through music, the children will be able to increase their vocabulary based on musical elements. Words like timbre, duration, dynamics, pitch, tempo, texture and structure can be introduced to children. This will help them to further understand and develop their music knowledge. There are a variety of activities that children are involved when making music. These activities are voice play, playing with words or rhymes, joining in songs or rhymes, learning voice skills, learning to sing a new song and lastly improvising or composing songs and chants. Through the learning of music, children will be able to compose and perform music using patterning of different types of musical instrument; listen with awareness and control sounds made by the instruments and react to timbre and dynamics and use these during music.

The arts are not lacking in intellectual activities. They help in the way children thinks, interpret and respond to the world. This supports the development of the children's minds. It is wrong to think that art, drawing or music is less intellectual compared to other subjects since they are non-verbal. There are other ways to express themselves which is telling beyond verbal language. Even though they are non-verbal, it is easily enjoyed by children. As mentioned earlier, the three elements of art, mastery; imitation; and imaginative play must be in action for all ages in order to learn through the arts. Art is also known to be a way of escaping from reality. Art will give children experiences that are more vibrant, lifelike and it will make them feel more alive (Swanwick, 1988). Art is essential to the education of young children.

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