Shiny Happy Kids: The End of Our Early Arts Ed Blog Salon

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On March - 22 - 2013
One of my favorite #earlyartsed resources that I pinned to our board.

One of my favorite #earlyartsed resources that I pinned to our board.

Thanks for joining us this week as we shared our ideas, thoughts, and resources for the arts in early childhood education. If you missed any, you can read all of the posts from the Blog Salon via http://bit.ly/earlyartsed.

While I loved hearing about programs modeled after Reggio Emilia, theatre for the very young, and ways parents can encourage creativity, I have to say that my favorite part of this week was seeing so many cute preschool faces! For someone who works in arts education, it doesn’t get much better than seeing the joy of a young child discovering something through the arts.

Many of the images I loved seeing were part of the Pintrest board we created in addition to our posts here. Hop on over there to see more resources from our amazing bloggers and others, including research, quotes, and art activities to explore with children. This was my first experience with Pinterest, and I must admit that I’m hooked!

But many of our bloggers included wonderful images in their posts too, so without further ado, here is our week in images (please visit Flickr if the player is not working in your browser):

Thanks for helping us celebrate Youth Arts Month on ARTSblog and remember to check back for arts education posts nearly every week and join our next Arts Education Blog Salon in September!

Play to Make Art

Posted by Lesley Romanoff On March - 21 - 2013
Lesley Romanoff

Lesley Romanoff

The single most important thing I learned about building an appreciation for art in children, I learned from watching my children grow and learn and working with preschoolers and their parents.

Here it is…you have to walk away from paint and paper to have grand adventures before walking back towards paint and paper (and all the other options for creating art).

To fully embrace art as both an observer and a creator, I believe the process should begin with the great outdoors…city, town, neighborhood, or park. Wherever your outside is, begin there.

Experiencing the geography of the place a child lives begins an important conversation that is tangible. It is one of place, of body and mind. Distance holds meaning. Foreground is something that can be reached and touched.

The points where sky meets building or tree line and how these change depending on the light builds an experiential vocabulary for the child that can be connected directly through paint, clay, crayon, or oil pastel. While outside and moving, children are also increasing their gross motor coordination and stamina. This is true of all children moving and growing within the lovely range of abilities represented in humans. Each child will develop strengths and coordination in movement in his or her own unique way. Their efforts to connect and experience the world around them will tumble out into inspiration and more importantly provide them with the ability to express it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Parents On Board With Creative Development

Posted by Bridget Matros On March - 20 - 2013
Bridget Matros

Bridget Matros

The ubiquitous hand-print turkey—to me, a symbol of how artmaking during early childhood is trivialized, as it pertains to the serious stuff of developing (or crushing) critical aptitudes needed in the 21st century.

Preserving and developing the creativity of the young child through quality artmaking experiences—it’s a challenge for those of us who were artistically “squashed” or deprived during our critical years. It’s a tender task, so easily undermined by the well-intended comments of parents who share a “creative deficit!”

Here I’ll share some tips for the “parent issue”—I hope to talk with you about the rest in the comments below!

Making the shift of priorities from “cuteness factor” to experiential value in the classroom is an uphill battle. Teacher prep programs include “process over product” and “there’s no way to do art wrong” as general guidelines, but resources for putting those ideas into practice are scarce; resources, printables, and materials for craft projects that teach conformity, art-for-pleasing-others, and external guidelines over self-expression are everywhere!

What’s more, the latter is what parents (and school administration/program funders, etc.) want: cut-out pumpkins colored orange with black triangles glued on are a kind of currency for early childhood educators.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Arts: Promoting Language & Literacy of Young Children

Posted by Louise J. Corwin On March - 18 - 2013
Louise J. Corwin

Louise J. Corwin

Art has traditionally been an important part of early childhood programs. The arts in early childhood education is spontaneous, creative play—drawing, painting, self-expression, singing, playing music, dancing, storytelling, and role playing.

Pre-school age children love the arts because that is what they do naturally. The arts engage all the senses and kinesthetic, auditory, and visual modalities. When parents, early educators and early childhood teachers engage and encourage children in the arts on a regular basis early in life, they help lay the foundation for successful learning and school success. The Early Years Matter!

In early childhood vernacular, the arts include children’s active participation in a variety of experiences—dance, drama, fine arts, and music. These activities allow them to express themselves through the arts and appreciate what they observe.

To be ready for school, children need to reach core milestones and master key skills and abilities in seven domains of learning including the arts.

Important questions to ask include:

  • What skills in the arts do young children need?
  • Why are the arts important to school success?
  • How can parents support the arts?  Read the rest of this entry »

It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 2)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On August - 29 - 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

In my previous post, I described an arts education trend called “coordinated delivery,” in which I discuss the roles of some of the key stakeholders in arts education. Over the past year, Americans for the Arts has been refining our thinking about the theme, “It takes a village to educate a child.”

While the term “coordinated delivery” includes all of the major players that make arts education happen in a single community, it falls a bit short in defining all of the stakeholders, including those at the state and national levels, such as funders or legislators.

The field of arts education is a complex network of partners, players, and policymakers—each with a unique role. After the work we did last year in investigating coordinated delivery, Americans for the Arts wanted to create something that demonstrated how all of these players interact, and to help arts education practitioners understand their relationship with other stakeholders in arts education.

So…we created The Arts Education Field Guide.

The Field Guide is a 48-page reference guide that captures information in a one-page format for each arts education stakeholder, from national down to local partners. Each page defines a constituency and highlights its relationship to arts education in several key areas: support, barriers, successes, collaborations, funding, and national connections. The Field Guide is divided into sections based on federal/state/local tiers, and each page provides information that will help readers understand a stakeholder’s motivations and connections in arts education.

The Field Guide utilizes the concepts from biology of a network or an ecosystem. When bringing this concept to life, we wanted a way to graphically illustrate all of the key players in the field of arts education. I used Google Images to find a representation of the word “network” and then worked with a designer to come up with the motif for our ideas. We also utilized the term “field guide” (the kind that a botanist would use when trying to identify a plant or flower), as a play on words of “the field of arts education” to come up with the title.

Let’s take a quick look at the diagrams in The Field Guide: Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education: It’s About Providing Hope

Posted by Molly O'Connor On April - 5 - 2012

Molly O'Connor

There’s a crisis underway in Oklahoma’s public schools. Even though House Bill 1017 requires art and music as core curriculum, these programs have disappeared from too many Oklahoma schools in communities both large and small.

This is nothing new, but that fact alone ensures that any attempt to reinstate these programs faces increasingly tough challenges. Today’s generation of parents were some of the first to miss out on art and music education, and therefore, are often unaware of the benefits of arts education and what their own children are missing out on.

Interestingly enough, several community leaders in Oklahoma continue to step up in efforts to pick up where the schools are falling short. Although, in most cases, it’s about so much more than providing an arts learning experience: It’s about providing hope.

With a thirty-year history of presenting modern dance in Oklahoma, Prairie Dance Theatre has developed new outreach programs for underserved youth and struggling Oklahoma City public schools. Artistic Director Tonya Kilburn is one of the instructors who has been instrumental in implementing dance into physical education programs in the public schools.

Tonya: “Bringing dance to children in OKC is both exciting and rewarding for me as an educator and as a concerned community member. I’ve always felt very fortunate that my chosen art form is so physical, and with Oklahoma rated as the seventh most obese state in the nation, I feel very connected to the solution.” Read the rest of this entry »

As the Blog Salon Comes to a Close…

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On September - 16 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the thoughts from leaders both in and outside our field during this blog salon in honor of National Arts in Education Week.

As we design and teach our youth programs, we need to keep the end in mind. Where are our students going to end up? How can we help them get there? Our schools’ guidance counselors can’t do everything—they are overburdened, have little arts content expertise, and limited interaction with each student.

That means that it is up to teachers, parents, community members, and those of us that work at arts organizations to guide our students. We need to give students real world experiences, provide them field trips to community organizations and businesses, inform them about career options, and guide them to areas where they are motivated and can excel.

During the salon, we heard examples of how this is already happening:

1)     Alyx’s story about helping students with their first job.
2)    Deutsche Bank’s collaboration with the Partnership for After School Education to create a comprehensive Youth Arts Career Guide. Read the rest of this entry »

Parents As Arts Advocates

Posted by Doug Israel On September - 16 - 2011

In my previous post, I wrote about the value of arts education in keeping students on track to graduation—regardless of their career aspirations—and the role of parents in ensuring that principals are aware of the value of arts learning to students and the school community.

For those students who are interested in a career in the arts, one would think there is no greater place to be than in New York City. Arts-related businesses in the city generate $21 billion annually, providing over 200,000 jobs in everything from set production and theater management to video game design and advertising.

Unfortunately though, far too many of our city high schools are not providing a quality arts education, even though arts instruction is mandated by state law and we are surrounded by an incredible wealth of cultural institutions and amenities.

As part of our advocacy and public awareness efforts we work with parents in new and exciting ways to build support for the arts in schools.

Parents are helping lead advocacy workshops for other parents and school leaders, they are working with principals to encourage local elected officials to support their school arts programs, and they are helping create resources that can move others to action. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting In Tune with Educational Purpose

Posted by Billie Jean Knight On September - 15 - 2011

Billie Jean Knight

I hold steadfastly to the perspective that students pursue an education, of which schooling is only a part, to discover their own inspired gifts and talents.

In the process, they develop a passion and commitment to achieve excellence as they master the communication, problem-solving, and technical skills to allow for a high-quality personal and work life.

However, too often our most inspired, creative, and visionary young people are derailed in their quest to discover and express their exceptional gifts in the context of life’s work because of the systemic discouragement at every stage of educational development.

The sad truth is that routinely governmental entities, communities, educators, and parents hold constrained paradigms that teach our young artists to fear, doubt, and worry about a choice to become a professional artist. Read the rest of this entry »

A Whole New World: Arts Education Advocacy As A Parent

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On September - 6 - 2011
Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

My husband and I are now expecting our first child. With both of us being arts educators, we feel like we’re in a good position to help our child experience the arts.

In fact, the little one has already been to see shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. (During the production of Pirates of Penzance I could have sworn I felt jazz hands in my belly.)

But, as much as we value the arts in our family, I know that when the time comes to send Junior off to school, we will have to be active, passionate, vocal, and unrelenting advocates. Here are some places we plan to start.

Stay Educated
Although I have plenty of stories about the importance of arts education, it is equally important for advocates to stay on top of the statistics too. Here are some recent data gems to keep handy:
72.5 percent of tenth graders from “high-arts” schools scored in the top half of standardized tests (verbal and math combined) compared to 45 percent from “low-arts” schools.
A state of Missouri survey found that districts offering more fine arts classes have a one percent higher attendance rate. Attendance effects funding, so in a district of 12,000 students, a one percent increase in attendance equals an additional $430,000 annually. Read the rest of this entry »

The Challenge and Opportunity of Parent Engagement

Posted by Richard Kessler On March - 18 - 2011

Richard Kessler

If I were to think of an emblematic phrase, in arts education, it might very well be: parents are key.

Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, when asked on a teleconference about what should be done to advance arts education, said: “parents really have to push for this and demand it. And our job as educators is to listen to what parents and students are telling us.”

It is easier said than done.

I will never forget the influential funder who told me told me that parents were a sinkhole, only to tell me a bit later that parents were essential. Whiplash!

Funny thing, both viewpoints are correct.

It’s important to note that we were talking about parents in urban school districts, and were focused on the issue of how parents could make the difference in an individual school and on a system-wide basis.    Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.