Arts as the bedrock of early childhood education. Problems Associated with Early-Childhood Education in Ghana and the Way Forward

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2020

15 Pages, Grade: 85.0




Concept of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Forms of Arts Appropriate for Children

Importance of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Problems Associated with Arts in Early Childhood Education in Ghana

Effective Ways to Remedy the Problems Associated with the Arts in Early Childhood Education




Early childhood is defined as the period from birth to eight years old. The period is characterized by a remarkable growth with brain development. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the United Nations environment (Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO 2002).

Educational provision at this level aims at supporting children learning across the developmental domains (i.e. social, physical, emotional and cognitive) in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.

Broaching the aesthetic subjects which has always had a place in education for children in the early years is a delicate matter, partly due to deeply rooted developmental discourses that have constructed children as concrete and sequential learners and school discourses that have constructed art with an emphasis either on the process of making artworks or on art content as undisputed heritage (Samuelsson, Carlsson, Olsson, Pramling, & Wallerstedt , 2009).

Although a strand of powerful arts advocacy arguments has positioned the arts as central to schooling in terms of their educative potential in the humanities (Broudy, 1972) and multicultural education (Chalmers, 2002), less is understood about what this means in early childhood education.

With a background in the enlightenment of the eighteenth century, in the idealistic pedagogical movement starting with Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Froebel, the arts were found to be just as important as logic and ethics and fundamental for higher learning.

The aesthetic subjects (Music, drama, painting, modelling, role-play, drawing, dance etc.) are much part of the everyday routine in early childhood education provision and it is ultimate in the development of these children. The crux of this paper is that, the arts are foundation and important building block for early childhood education as it supports the development of children. The paper will focus on concepts of arts in early childhood education, importance of arts in early childhood education, problems associated with arts in early childhood education in Ghana and the effective ways to mitigate the problems.

Concept of Arts in Early Childhood Education

The arts like many other concepts has gotten plethora of similar definitions. There are almost as many definitions of “the arts” as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept. In her write-up, “The Importance of Creative Arts in Early Childhood Education”, Chen, (2016) defined theArts in early childhood education as activities that engages children imagination. These activities include drawing, painting, dance, drama, puppetry, and music. The activities stimulate and help children cultivate their abilities across virtually every domain, and they are open-ended activities, fostering flexibility of the mind.

According to Van (2006), the arts are documented expressions of a sentient being through or on an accessible medium so that anyone can view, hear or experience it.

The term "the arts" includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, films and theater, creative writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, costume and fashion design, motion pictures,(National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act.Section 952 b).

In light of this plethora of definitions of the concept "the arts", one can perhaps make a crude attempt at a "working" definition of the subject, along the following lines:

Art is created when an artist/performer creates a beautiful object, or produces a stimulating experience that is considered by his audience to have artistic merit. This is simply a "working" definition: broad enough to encompass most forms of contemporary art. In an attempt to break the definition down, the word "artist/performer" is included to allow for the context of the work; the word "beautiful" is included to reflect the need for some "aesthetic" value; while the phrase "that is considered by his audience to have artistic merit" is included to reflect the need for some basic acceptance of the artist's efforts.

The arts have traditionally been an important part of early childhood programs. Friedrich Froebel, the father of kindergarten, believed that young children should be involved in both making their own art and enjoying the art of others. To Froebel, art activities were important, not because they allowed teachers to recognize children with unusual abilities, but because they encouraged each child's "full and all-sided development" (Froebel, 1826 cited in Fox & Berry, 2008). The idea of Friedrich Froebel is still relevant in this contemporary time because early childhood education is still concerned with developing the child wholly (physical, social, emotional and cognitive). The arts practice in the contemporary early childhood space is closely connected with everyday creativity within a play-based environment.

Forms of Arts Appropriate for Children

Traditional and contemporary art encompasses activities as diverse as: music, drama, theatre, dance, painting, drawing, modelling, ceramics, photography, cinematography, to name but a few. All these activities are commonly referred to as "the arts" and are commonly classified into several overlapping categories. According to Laishram (2007), there are two forms of arts appropriate for children and they are discussed below.

1. Visual Arts: Visual art can be defined as a form of art that uses any medium to represent the artist’s/performer’s (the child’s) idea, emotion and imagination. Visual arts is one of the finest forms of arts which provide opportunity for children to express their feelings, sentiments, and thoughts. In visual arts activities at the early childhood settings, children express themselves through the use of graphite pencils, poster colours, coloured pencils, charcoal, chalk, and much more relies upon its purpose and nature. Children will access and utilise art media as a way to communicate and connect to the world, independently building upon their knowledge and constructing their own theories about everything (Knight, 2009). Some forms of visual arts at the early childhood center include but not limited to drawing, painting, molding, photography.
2. Performing Arts: Performing arts refers to a form of art in which artists/performers (children) uses their voices, bodies or inanimate objects to convey artistic expression. Performing arts include a range of disciplines which are performed in front of a live audience. Of all the different forms of art, performing arts is much appreciated and enjoyed by people (Laishram, 2007). Performing Arts includes music, drama, dance, theater and much more. Performing Arts like dance generally uses sound (music), as well as body along with expression, resulting in a rhythmic enigma. Unlike the other forms of art, the artist in the performing arts is generally known as the performer. While, the performer can likewise be determined into dancer, singer, musicians, comedians, actors etc.

Importance of Arts in Early Childhood Education

During early childhood, the social, emotional, cognitive and physical competences are heightened through developmentally appropriate programs and activities designed for holistic development. The arts play an integral role in the optimal development and education of children. Music, dancing, drawing, painting and working with clay etc. are aspects of arts education for children. Some importances of the arts in early childhood education are discussed below;

1. The Arts Develop Children’s Motor Skills. One of the most important skills that are developed through the arts is fine and gross motor development. During art lessons, children’s fine muscles (fingers, hands, and wrists) and gross muscles (Legs, hands, waist, etc.) are exercised and strengthened, aiding their development. Dancing, clapping, playing an instrument, using a crayon, modelling clay develop gross and fine motor dexterity and control (Fox, 2008).
2. The Arts Help Children to Appreciate Numeracy. Number concepts and classification can be introduced while children work with simple collage materials, beads, listen to music, dance, and recite poem. Art is not only about emotion, colour or aesthetics, but also about patterns and problem solving” (Reyner, 2008). This helps children to better understand the concepts surrounding numeracy. Children develop numeracy as they study in music when they use calculation, estimation and measurement knowledge and skills to collect and make sense of information. For example, they might draw their knowledge of fractions (halving, quartering, accumulating fractional parts, re-imagining the whole) when they learn to read music notation. They could also use and extend their numeracy capability when they consider the structure and form of music works, pitch (intervals, scales, octave identification), harmony, tuning systems, concepts relating to beat, pulse, rhythm, metre and sub-division and acoustics.
3. Music, in Particular, can Accelerate Brain Development. The areas of language acquisition and reading skills benefit tremendously. Learning to play an instrument has been found to improve mathematical learning, boost memory and even lead to better academic test scores (Bright-Horizons, 2017). A study was conducted by Brain and Creativity Institute at University of South California in 2012 to examine the impact of music instruction on children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. One of the findings was that, music instruction speeds up the maturation of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases its efficiency (Gersema, 2016).


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Arts as the bedrock of early childhood education. Problems Associated with Early-Childhood Education in Ghana and the Way Forward
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arts, problems, associated, early-childhood, education, ghana, forward
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Seth Badu (Author), 2020, Arts as the bedrock of early childhood education. Problems Associated with Early-Childhood Education in Ghana and the Way Forward, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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