In the beginning…

Photo of a Photo from Art in Early Childhood International Conference 2019, New Zealand

. . . there was art, creativity, imagination, color, laughter, play, joy and it was good.

Finding Our Way in the Forest
All of this is a great forest. Inside the forest is the child. The forest is beautiful, fascinating, green, and full of hopes; there are no paths. Although it isn’t easy, we have to make our own paths, as teachers and children and families, in the forest. Sometimes we find ourselves together within the forest, sometimes we may get lost from each other, sometimes we’ll greet each other from far away across the forest; but it’s living together in this forest that is important. And this living together is not easy. We have to find each other in the forest and begin to discuss what the education of the child actually means. The important aspect is not just to promote the education of the child but the health and happiness of the child as well. We need to think of the school as a living organism. Children have to feel that the world is inside the school and moves and thinks and works and reflects on everything that goes on. Of course not all children are the same — each child brings a part of something that’s different into the school.

Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins
by Loris Malaguzzi (Click the title to read the whole speech)

A bunch of us, adults, were sitting on the floor making designs and drawing with color electrical tape on the floor during a workshop. This little boy around 6 years old was walking through the space with his mother and asked what we were doing. He was quick to jump in and join us when invited to make his own picture. He decided to make a delivery truck because he likes vehicles he told me. It was as if he was planted there in the midst of our workshop to show how children are inquisitive and creative. We had a great dialogue back and forth about what he was making and why. For example he was making squares for boxes inside the truck as it was making deliveries.

When I saw that the International Art in Early Childhood Conference was happening the week before my Fulbright Orientation in Wellington, New Zealand, I jumped on signing up. Early childhood is the very beginning of our experiences of learning, relationships, and creativity outside of our family. In my heart of hearts I am an early childhood teacher. Combining the focus on early childhood and how children learn through the visual arts I couldn’t help but enjoy my 4 days among others who are passionate about these early years and how we engage children in our learning environments through the visual arts. I learned how to weave using flax a traditional way of weaving here in New Zealand. We created ephemeral art using natural elements from nature. We heard many talks on ways to enhance early childhood visual arts teaching. Really it takes intentional planning, materials, and valuing that type of learning environment for young children. New Zealand has a well articulated early learning plan. I think it would be a great focus for a Fulbright if anyone I know in early childhood wanted to take up that topic. I hope to visit a few early childhood centers from my contacts I made at the conference so look forward to more posts about early childhood here in New Zealand.

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