Arts & Academics

“In the 21st century, humanity faces some of its most daunting challenges.  Our best resource is to cultivate our singular abilities of imagination, creativity and innovation.  Doing so has to become one of the principal priorities of education.  … [It] is the key to the future, and the stakes could hardly be higher.”

-Sir Ken Robinson

Out of Our Minds

An integrated arts curriculum fosters creative and critical thinking skills.

Given the challenges facing our educational system, it is significant to note that one of the reactions in the traditional model is to focus more on math, science and reading at the expense of the arts. This often produces student boredom and even greater academic failure, which prompts calls for yet more testing and discipline.

KMS draws some of their philosophy from Bev Bos, who has said: “The child is the curriculum.” “Take your cues from the kids and then respond deeply.” The KMS art curriculum is greatly inspired by these thoughts and thus, encourages projects that develop organically from student’s interests.

Along those same lines, KMS has been greatly influenced by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach, which understands art as a vital language for the child. Projects emerge from a simple query, and evolve into an opportunity for problem solving, creative thinking and discovery through experience.

Out of those inspirations, and of KMS core values, the essential goal of the Kindergarten and Elementary art program is to guide and support students in their understanding and application of various art techniques, media, and methods. Since KMS supports self-directed learning, a large part of the art curriculum allows the child to experiment with materials/projects that are of interest to that student. This encourages meaningful work for the child. The art studio is designed so that supplies are easily viewed and accessible.

For part of the week, Kindergartners are open to create their own art activities, exploring materials according to their personal inspiration. In this way, students are empowered to make their own choices and feel comfortable experimenting with various media. This time is geared at supporting the child’s innate creativity and imagination. The teacher is available to assist and guide the students in these independent projects.

There is also time in the week for Kindergarten students to enjoy a project-based art lesson. The goal of this time is to introduce and explore specific techniques and media to further the child’s understanding of art. The lessons are geared towards building on specific artistic abilities. These units are often inspired and drawn from the students’ discussions, ideas, and current curiosities.

Our vision about our role as teachers is that we need to come with an open and attentive approach, where our availability to observe and discuss evolving projects, will allow the student to express and reflect on their creations.At KMS, art is integrated in all levels of learning because it is essential to a child’s growth. The benefits of art participation are not in the final product, but in the road the child takes to get there; art allows the child to wonder, investigate, construct, problem-solve, imagine, and communicate in a way that nurtures their confidence as a unique individual.

References and additional research