Children’s overall development is affected by a combination of both their biological maturation and their environment. As they represent what they know in different ways, it is imperative to provide children with opportunities to practice their skills in a safe environment that offer real challenges. By problem solving through artistic play, children cognitively go through the process of accommodation. During this process, children learn new information and add it to their existing knowledge base, to come up with a refined idea about their world.
So, when I walked into the spacious art room, illuminated by sunlight streaming through the windows, I smiled as my eyes immediately noticed the long tables’ set-up with a variety of water colour paints, paint brushes of multiple sizes, colourful and bright pastels and multiple large canvases. As a qualified and experienced Early Childhood Educator and Elementary School Teacher, I understood the critical components that produce an ideal and amazing art program for children. An ideal art program must provide children with enough time, space, materials and tools to explore, along with a nurturing environment where an individual’s creative process can flourish, and where an artistically inclined teacher provides positive feedback.
To the untrained eye, it may appear that children at play are busy making a mess at the art table rather then learning. However I beg to differ, as children at play are children hard at work, constantly learning about the world around them. Artistic play based learning and problem solving stimulates children’s brain development during their critical stages of cognitive growth. As they practice and use the art mediums and tools in new and different ways, children continue to go through the process of accommodation as they learn and develop new ideas about the world around them. For instance, with toddlers, all of a sudden the wet glue is no longer just something white and sticky, but a substance used to help hold a special gem or pompom onto their canvas. Alternatively, with repeated opportunities for practice, a few strokes of red and white paint that blend together on paper are no longer accidental, but done on purpose to achieve the product of making pink paint.