Art to Heart
How can the arts help preschoolers develop the necessary literacy skills to learn to read and write? This question is introduced as part of the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) professional development training called Art to Heart.
Art to Heart is a national series of eight modules that explores the importance of visual arts, music, dance, drama and literature in the lives of infants, toddlers and young children. Through KET’s Art to Heart training, childcare professionals gain professional development credit hours in workshops that include strategies for incorporating the arts into the daily curriculum while teaching science, math and basic reading skills.
Kathy Day, Early Childhood Coordinator for KET, utilizes an informal approach to the training. She concentrates on small group interaction in which participants share experiences, overcome challenges and formulate lesson plans to help them integrate the arts into their current curriculum. For instance, given that many centers have stopped providing arts activities due to the high cost of art supplies, participants are enthusiastic to learn that finger paint and modeling clay can be created from materials found in the most basic kitchen. Additionally, for childcare providers who are also involved in after-school programs for older children, Kathy encourages them to modify activities originally developed for younger children rather than creating a separate set of lesson plans.
Surveys completed at past Art to Heart training sessions have been overwhelmingly positive. In response to the statement on the post training survey, “I am more confident in planning developmentally appropriate activities that integrate the arts,” 90% of the participants in one session responded with “strongly agree.”
As an opening activity, Art to Heart training participants are asked to decorate a pair of glasses to help them view the world with “artist’s eyes.”
As a result of Art to Heart training:
- Understanding of the value of the arts in building basic literacy skills increased from 52% to 84%
- Confidence in integrating developmentally appropriate arts activities into curriculum increased from 34% to 72%
- Confidence in providing strategies for parents to extend learning through arts activities in the home increased from 22% to 60%