The Grove School Fine-Arts curriculum holds true to the philosophy that creative expression is a vital activity for developing healthy minds. Painting, drawing, sculpture, and other fine arts stimulate the imagination, increase self-confidence, inspire creative risk-taking and exploration, and foster a lifelong desire for knowledge through experiential learning.
In all creative endeavors children are encouraged to use their imaginations; concepts are provided and skills are taught as tools for creative expression, originality and innovation, rather than as rules to follow for specific outcomes. As long as everyone follows the rules of the classroom, there is no “right or wrong” way to bring images, feelings and stories to life with art.
Exposing children to images of master artwork, even at the young age of two years, is important for several reasons:
1. Visually stimulating artwork depicting bold shapes and bright colors captures children’s attention and curiosity, and motivates them to experiment with new art forms and techniques, as well as art tools.
2. Familiar images remind children of elements in their own lives to depict in their artwork, and unfamiliar images can rouse curiosity and humor, and spark imagination.
3. The earlier children are exposed to multiple artistic traditions, such as American and European masterpieces by van Gogh, Picasso, O’Keefe, and Kandinsky, the indigenous art traditions of Australia, Africa, the Americas, and Pacific Island, and the classic art forms of Asia, the Middle East, and India, the sooner they will recognize all artistic expression as worthy of interest rather than only the familiar traditions of their specific country of origin.
The following passage from the book The Colors of Learning: Integrating the Visual Arts into the Early Childhood Curriculum, expands on the importance of exposing children to master artworks:
“When children become familiar with artists and their work, art becomes real to them. They learn that different media and techniques are used by artists to obtain different effects. They can become totally absorbed in painting in a manner similar to that of Jackson Pollock. They can see similarities between their art processes and the collages of artists like Henri Matisse… Such insights can motivate children to act on art media to express their own ideas.” (page 102)
Such insights can motivate children to act on art media to express their own ideas. Talking with each other about their ideas gives children an appreciation of each other’s efforts, and the opportunity to use art language. Children also appreciate knowing about artists’ lives and the media, tools, and techniques they use. Children enjoy learning that artists come from various backgrounds and diverse cultures, and that artists may be found in the communities in which they themselves live.” (page 102)
In addition, multiple creative forms, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, collage ,origami, mosaic, and puzzles are important for a true appreciation of the fine arts according to the philosophy of Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE). As paraphrased from sections of the book The Quiet Evolution: Changing the Face of Arts Education, DBAE can be described as a comprehensive approach to arts education using the philosophy that art is an essential part of every child’s education, speaking to students in a language that communicates ideas, reveals symbols, forges connections, and helps prepare them for life.
The intention of DBAE is that children will creatively relate the important ideas found in works of art to the problems, issues, ideas, and events of their contemporary world and of their own lives.
It’s imperative to us that your child’s education maps to your state’s early learning standards. Our curriculum aligns with, and in some cases, exceeds these standards so that your child is prepared for kindergarten and beyond.
To read more about your state’s standards, here are some resources:
At The Grove School, our number one commitment is to prepare your child for future academic success through a hands-on, integrated curriculum and learning community. School readiness is at the center of that environment. But what does “school readiness” really mean?
Generally, it’s a term that refers to a set of skills and abilities a child should possess before entering kindergarten.
But more specifically, I like this definition from scientists and early education professors K. Maxwell and R.M. Clifford in their Research in Review: School Readiness Assessment–
“School readiness involves more than just children. In the broadest sense, it’s about children, families, early environments, schools, and communities. Children are not innately ready or not ready for school. Their skills and development are strongly influenced by their families and through their interactions with other people and environments before coming to school. “
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) also has an excellent position paper that details important considerations when preparing children for school and preparing schools for children. Three important points covered in the statement include:
1. Giving children deserve access to opportunities that promote school success.
2. Recognizing and supporting children’s individual differences.
3. The importance of establishing reasonable and appropriate expectations for what children should be able to do when they enter school.
Additional highlights from the NAEYC School Readiness position paper follow (see the links below for PDFs of both the summary and full position papers):
Readiness is more than basic knowledge of language and math, important as these are. Readiness expectations should include all areas: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional competence as well as positive attitudes toward learning.
Young children develop in different ways and at different rates. Readiness does not happen at the same time or in the same way for all children. For example, one child may develop language skills rapidly while being slower to gain social competence. Definitions of readiness must consider these variations.
A school is ready if the curriculum in kindergarten and the early grades builds on prior learning. In early childhood and beyond, skills are most effectively learned and practiced when embedded in meaningful experiences. Even for children who enter school without having mastered specific skills, curriculum should include child-initiated as well as teacher-supported activities, and should emphasize hands-on, integrated learning.
The school must take into account individual differences in language, culture, and prior experience. Children whose experiences differ from those of the school they enter may be viewed as less ready. Effective kindergarten-primary programs meet children where they are and take extra care to help make meaningful connections with each child’s home, culture, and community.
Teachers must know how to teach young children and have the resources to do so. Ready schools need kindergarten and primary grade teachers who have professional preparation in child development and early education. Class sizes are small enough to meet children’s individual learning needs. Classroom equipment and materials support children’s active, thoughtful engagement with learning.
Our curriculum and school community address these issues head on. From the types of activities and structure of our school day to the credentials of our teachers and how we cultivate community, we’ve thought deeply about to how to best prepare each child for a successful academic future.
When developing The Grove School curriculum, we considered the opinions and research of multiple foundational groups within the early childhood industry. Below are examples of such groups:
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE)
International Reading Association (IRA)
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
These groups have developed position statements related to important early childhood education practice, policy, and professional development. If you have an interest in reading more about the thinking that informs our curriculum, I encourage you to download these PDFs.
NAEYC position statements
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Technology and Young Children (Ages 3-8)
Learning to Read and Write (with the IRA)
A Summary of References to Play (in all position papers)
Early Childhood Mathematics (with the NCTM)
Joint position statements by NAEYC and NAECS/SDE
Other helpful articles