When I was growing up there was such an academic focus on maths and sciences but art was an extra activity usually outside of the classroom. I firmly believe that learning to create, appreciate and question art forms around us are some of the building blocks of child development. In certain schools in California, teachers are using classic works of art to inspire some of the youngest students to think deeply, observe closely and think critically. From potato prints to the analysis of Van Gogh, Matisse and David, art lessons for nursery children has moved in leaps and bounds. This method, implemented by the movement, Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) a non-profit based in New York, is said to have a positive effect on both teachers and students. Studies show that kids who participated in the programme understood visual images better, improved in math and reading, and had better social-emotional growth.
So instead of letting them run around, what can we ask our children next time we go to an exhibition? Perhaps:
What’s going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?