Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Art Appreciation for Developing Communication Skills among Preschool Children

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Art Appreciation for Developing Communication Skills among Preschool Children

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the preschool period, giving children experience in a range of fields is extremely important for their overall development. "Listening to music, for example, the child develops her or his ear, repeats the words they hear, probably also moves with this, thus developing many diverse abilities. Listening to fairy tales and watching illustrations children develop their vocabulary, they develop imagination and the capacity of longer concentration" (Duh, 2013, p. 33). Several opportunities thus exist for using various branches of art for the development of the child's cognitive, affective, and psychomotor areas. It depends on the teacher whether, in the process of artistic creative activity, children will develop their potential to the maximum; whether they will develop new skills through varied methods and forms of learning; and whether they will know how to observe, interpret, perceive, and thus develop their competences. Especially in the case of observing works of art, the teacher's guidance is indispensable (Duh & Kljajic, 2013). As a school subject, however, art develops competences not only in the area of children's creative abilities, but also in the area of perceptive and receptive abilities, which means appreciation competences. Under the term "art appreciation," we understand perceiving and reception based on emotions and experiencing the visual in works of art (Duh, 2004). It is, then, about the kind of reflection that must develop "in close association with producing and receiving and must be cultivated with creating and understanding paintings" (Regel, 2001, p. 70, quoted from Schütz, 2002, p. 123). Research (Duh, 2004; Kraguljac & Karlavaris, 1970) has shown that both creative and appreciative abilities are a matter of quantity, which means that all normally developed children possess these capacities. Contemporary teaching of art is thus conducted in two directions: (1) developing creative abilities in art (productive), and (2) understanding fine art (perceptive).

Bertscheit (2001) maintains that locating works of art into the interest area of learners is a primary goal of teaching art. This is why it is extremely important for preschool teachers' performance of the education process to include observation of works of art. Teachers must be able to establish communication between children and the work of art. The attitude of the child towards a work of art must be seen from two points of view. On one side is the child's innate feeling for visual order, and on the other side the acquired feeling for the beautiful and aesthetic (Zupancic & Duh, 2009). Today we know that art appreciation is not innate, but is an ability that can be developed with appropriate educational work (Duh, Cagran, & Huzjak, 2010).

Art appreciation and the development of communcation skills

Encouraging the development of art appreciation should begin sufficiently early, believes Payne (1990), who feels that younger students need a creative approach to the development of art appreciation. One needs to be aware that younger children in preschool are still too little and cannot use appropriate terminology. This can produce a rather low level of art appreciation as a consequence (Duh, 2013). With four-year-old children, Coates (1993) detected appreciation at an elementary level when they described a range of objects. As evidence of appreciation in its early phase, she identified children's responses such as the following:

"That's big" in relation to size, "It's snowy" in response to a blossom tree and "It's smooth" after stroking a pebble" (Coates, 1993, p. 252). In these talks, in which children use imagination "they often generate a flow of creative ideas which can spill over into other parts of the curriculum. The impractical ones can always be rejected later on, leaving the best ideas for discussion and modification" (Barnes, 2002, p. 135).

Children describe not just things related to the works of art, but everything they see around them. …

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