Art is essential in the environment of the child from birth on. It is a way of approaching life, of moving and speaking, of decorating a home and school, of selecting toys and books. It cannot be separated from every other element of life.
At The Children’s House, we are very fortunate to have an entire room dedicated to art and its exploration and experimentation. Art appreciation and art history are integrated into the curriculum areas. The students discuss and examine how history and society may play an important role in art. This also satisfies several of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, theories and provides a social aspect for the child. We also learn how one particular artist may have deeply affected the world of art, history and society. Lessons in aesthetics of art and art criticism are given for the children to discuss what they see, feel, prefer in addition to the reasons for such choices.
The hands-on activities in art, however, are only one part of the art curriculum. It is important to note that art must not only be incorporated throughout the curriculum, but also be explored as art for art’s sake.
We cannot "teach" a child to be an artist, but we can help him develop:
An eye that sees
A hand that obeys
A soul that feels
Montessori education emphasizes the process of creating art versus the product. This means that children should be encouraged to explore and experiment with a variety of art mediums without being made to feel that they should complete a specific project that looks a certain way. While it is necessary to provide the child such freedom to make discoveries on his own, especially in the production of art, it is also valuable that the child been given the skills and experiences necessary to train and develop the hand and eye for the creation of realistic art as well. It is critical that the child is able to create with his own hands that which he envisions in his mind.
Addressing the importance of the child’s developing hand, Montessori states, "The child is directed by a mysterious power, great and wonderful, that he incarnates little by little…he does it with his hands, by experience, first in play, then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence"
Art meets the fundamental needs for communication, community, and socialization. Art provides children freedom to create, imagine, and explore. Experiences in art, also aid in the transition from concrete to abstract thinking.