Working with the Under-Threes: Responding to Children's Needs

By Lesley Abbott; Helen Moylett | Go to book overview

6
'It's a princess' – fostering
creative and aesthetic
development in young children

Hilary Renowden


Introduction

'That's a nice cake', said the well-meaning adult as Francesca held up her
lump of pink playdough with a feather stuck on the top and sequins
pressed into it – 'It's a princess!', said Francesca.

The above incident, recorded some time ago, had a profound effect on my subsequent response to young children's creative expression. I came to realize just how far insensitive handling of young children's early creative experiences can have a profound effect on later learning, and how careful observation of young children and sensitive involvement of adults, can become an essential tool in diagnosing and assessing young children's needs and abilities.

The focus of this book is on early interactions and particularly on the interactions between adults and very young children. The Rumbold Report (DES 1990) presents a formidable list of areas of knowledge, skills and attitudes required by adults who have responsibility for young children's learning and development. Nutbrown (1996: 54) re-emphasizes the point that 'adult knowledge is crucial to extending children's learning and essential if children's early achievements are to be recognised and respected'. I came to realize that knowledge about the process of learning is just as important as knowledge about the child. All adults who work with children under 3 have a tremendous responsibility to engage in the kinds of positive interactions which foster free expression of interest, skill, ability and emotion.

It is argued that providing children with opportunities to explore the world from an early age and to express their true emotions as they react to a range of experiences and interactions, has a powerful effect on intellectual development. Goleman (1996) argues that the rules which govern emotions and therefore condition intelligence can be acquired early in life at the hands of a skilled adult. He believes strongly that educators should provide

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