MURDOCH University research shows art helps in the development of critical thinking in young children.
Murdoch lecturer Caroline Nilson looked at what influence participating in creative arts has on the development and expression of critical thinking in young children.
Her thesis suggests that arts and creative play are a good way to develop critical thinking in young children by exciting their imagination and creativity which leads to an increased awareness of self and others.
The study looked at a group of 150 children aged eight and nine from three local schools and one independent art program who participated in a regional arts event in the Peel area.
The children were given four months to work with an artist-in-residence to develop an art piece around the subject of old Mandurah for exhibiting in the Mandurah Stretch Festival.
Parents and teachers of the participating kids were interviewed to gauge their perceptions of how the critical thinking skills of the children had developed over the four months they were involved in the festival.
Mrs Nilson says both parents and teachers agreed that at the start of the project the kids were passive and waiting for instruction but at the conclusion they had developed considerably.
She says the children had developed confidence and showed indications of problem-solving and perseverance.
“By the end of the project we saw the children had grown confidence in their artistic decisions and had learned a great deal about action and consequence which are both signs of critical thinking,” Mrs Nilson says.
Some other areas of concern that were raised by parents and teachers in the interviews included a lack of allocated time for art in both school and home life and a severe lack of funding and expert instruction at schools for arts programs.
Mrs Nilson hopes that her study will help highlight how important the arts can be in early childhood development.
She says that it should be considered as important as English or Maths on school curriculum in early childhood development.
“The role of arts in the community must be considered more seriously,” she says.
“More must be done to fund and expand the arts to be accessible to all segments of the community and it is critical that home, education and community environments are focused on the early development of critical thinking abilities in young children.”
Mrs Nilson thesis titled “Teachers’ and Mothers’ perceptions of using creative arts to develop children’s potential for critical thinking” is part of her Masters research and can be located in full here.
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