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The Real-World Connections

In the early years, children explore the world around them, experiment with new concepts, and learn new words and the meaning of words, through singing, dancing, drawing, and dramatic play. Early childhood education is a term that refers to the period from a child's birth to when they enter kindergarten, it is said, it's a time when children learn critical social and emotional skills, and a partnership is formed between the child, their parents, and the teacher. The parents can make a positive and lasting impact on their child's learning ability. When children experience early quality learning and care, their short-term cognition boosts and they develop socially and emotionally.

As a parent, I have always discovered and believed that I should encourage, support, and provide access to activities that enable my child to master key developmental tasks. I have experienced that from birth children are goal-directed to experiment and learn from each experience. It becomes critical to educate the child’s immediate connections, to help build the mind in the right way. I feel preschool teachers play an important role in building a child's success in their first years of school. Teachers do more than facilitate lesson plan projects throughout the day. They provide structure and help children grow in their reading and writing skills, teach science and help children understand themselves. As an educator, I think, the role of the teacher does not end by teaching the students but also involving the parents, so that there is a consistency between what is being taught at the school and home as well. The teacher is not just to focus on reading and numeracy, but also to provide experiential learning. I feel art is an essential part of education mainly in early childhood education. Art helps to develop the five main areas in a child; cognitive, social and emotional, speech and language, fine motor skill, and gross motor skill development.

Thinking of the visual arts in early childhood education can initially evoke an image of a child standing at an easel, thick stubby paintbrush in hand with bright acrylic poster paint spreading quickly across the page. However, research has shown the visual arts to be a rich domain through which young children can explore and represent their experiences, think through and deepen their working theories, and develop their creative thinking. Teachers and parents of the child must understand the effect of visual experiences on the child’s brain. When we talk about visual experiences in school, mostly it is about visual aids to support their education. In early childhood education, I consider all subjects need visual aids and that’s where visual arts come into the picture, however, we need to see the learning strategies in a big picture and consider visual aids in all learning processes for early childhood education and not just only for visual arts subject.

Real pictures in the early education classroom!

Yes, real picture references, do you use them? Are you exposing students to real images? Or just clip art and symbols?

Making the real-world connection is very important for the child’s learning, and real photos help them make connections with the real world. We as teachers worry so much about symbols and supporting students with visuals. But I feel we need to worry about how we are pushing them to generalize the skills they are learning. Mass media such as books, TV, and the internet are key sources of information, allowing the child to increase their knowledge by learning indirectly about things they’ve never directly experienced. Children today typically have a lot of experience with picture books, yet still, exhibit signs of confusion. Even infants, when they see a picture book or pictures, try to put them in their mouth and eat the books, try to grasp at photos of objects as if they were real, and read picture books upside down.

So, how well can a child learn from these sources if they misunderstand their symbolic properties and manipulated pictures?

I feel it is most important that we show hyper-realistic images as visual aids in early childhood. The toddlers of 15 to 24 months, if shown iconic images such as photos or highly-realistic drawings are more likely to learn from them than less-realistic cartoon drawings. I find that manipulative features in baby books, such as pop-ups and pull-tabs, actually hinder children’s ability to remember pictures.

Don’t you think that we as educators and parents ignite and awaken the curiosity of a child with hyper-realistic pictures?

As an educator in arts, I urge early childhood educators and parents to work hand in hand to develop a child’s brain, because we all know, the first five years are the most essential years of growth in all senses.

- Madhavi P
Head of the department Art and Craft