Creative Connections in the Early Years Phase One

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1 Creative Connections in the Early Years Phase One Report June 2012 1

2 Contents Introduction 02 Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Executive Summary 04 Background 06 Creative Arts and Young Children: Current Research 10 Project Aims and Methodology 16 Governance Project Objectives Excepted Outcomes Key Activities Key Activities and Findings 22 Consultation Research: Trial Programs Forums and Workshops Conclusions and Recommendations 40 Acknowledgements 46 References 48 Compiled by Leigh Tesch Project Consultant, Creative Connections in the Early Years 2

3 1.Introduction It is now well known that the early years of life from birth to the age of six are a critical time for childhood development and wellbeing. What is also becoming better understood is that when children engage in creative activities, their physical and sensory development is stimulated in a variety of ways, allowing them to explore, experiment and communicate. This is vital for brain development, as well as for a childs growing understanding of themselves and the world around them. The Tasmanian Early Years Foundation (TEYF) and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) share a deep commitment to supporting creativity through the arts in the lives of young children. Several years ago they formed a partnership and the Creative Connections in the Early Years project grew out of a scoping workshop in December 2009. A proposal for a one year development phase was prepared and funding was subsequently received from the Sidney Myer Fund. During this first phase of the project, over 600 people around the state have been involved. It is clear that there is much enthusiasm for giving the arts and creativity greater prominence in the lives of children from an early age. Both TEYF and TMAG are committed to building on the work started through this project in order to meet this important need. This report describes the activities and findings of phase one, and sets out a number of recommendations for the next phase of the project. Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso Sue JenkinsBill Bleathman Chair, Tasmanian Early Years Foundation Director, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 2 3

4 2. Executive Summary Over the past year, the Creative Connections in the Early Years project has continue to actively support and stimulate the development of programs, projects examined the role of creativity through the arts in the lives of young children in and initiatives in this area. The following is recommended to enable this to happen: Tasmania. This work was initiated through a partnership between the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation (TEYF) and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 1. Continue Creative Connections in the Early Years as an entity, supported (TMAG) AccessArt program, enabled by funding from the Sidney Myer Fund. by TEYF and TMAG, to promote the importance of creativity through the There were three main activities: consultation, trial programs, and forums arts in the early years and act as a conduit for projects, and resource base and workshops. for practitioners throughout the state. Consultation with practitioners from the early years, arts, and community sectors 2. Locate a home for Creative Connections in the Early Years for a centre confirmed that they understand the crucial importance of creative expression of excellence for early years engagement in the arts, ideally within TMAGs through the arts for young childrens learning and development. Yet a number of Centre for Learning and Discovery. TEYF to continue to provide and enable barriers to facilitating such experiences were identified, including a lack of funding sector development, expertise in the early years, developing resources, and pathways for projects, the undervaluing and limited understanding of the arts networking opportunities, and capacity building. in the general community, and low levels of confidence in adult caregivers in engaging with children in creative activities. The need for greater provision of 3. Further develop and promote a model of best practice for quality professional development programs, access to innovative ideas and resources, programming in this area. This would cover ways that skilled artists can and opportunities to work with artists emerged from this consultation as priorities co-create with children, how to achieve effective parent involvement, for the sectors. and structures within early year settings for supporting and continuing such ongoing programs. Creative Connections delivered two trial programs of hands-on visual art experiences in community settings designed and facilitated by a professional art 4. Provide quality creative arts programs in early year settings, for example educator. In addition to involving children aged under six years, each of these artist in residence or regular artists visits that target vulnerable or at programs actively engaged parents and delivered professional development to risk communities. early learning staff. Evaluation indicated that both these programs were successful in raising confidence in adults around creative engagement with children. Parents 5. Provide opportunities for artists from a variety of disciplines and art forms reported feeling more connected with their children as a result of these activities, to work in early years settings and receive professional development, and professionals reported gaining a deeper understanding of the value of the including peer support and mentoring. creative process over the end product. Key components of a best practice model for artist-led programs in early year settings were identified. 6. Involve parents in programs with young children as engaging parents to experience their own creative process can increase their confidence in The project delivered forums and workshops for professionals and individuals. being able to interact playfully and imaginatively with their children. In November 2011, 40 people from the arts and early years sectors gathered at a half-day forum to begin a valuable dialogue. In March 2012, over 140 early years 7. Establish professional development opportunities for early years educators and arts and community development practitioners attended a two- practitioners that provide ideas and resources, and increase their day professional development forum. The program included local and interstate confidence in engaging with creative art materials with young children. speakers, hands-on sessions led by artists, and the opportunity to showcase Tasmanian programs and projects. 8. Continue networking opportunities that bring together the arts, early years and community sectors, with an annual forum to showcase projects and We have learned through the Creative Connections project that there are barriers offer hands-on learning. for practitioners and limited opportunities for artist-led programs that can enhance young childrens creative exploration. To address these issues, it will be vital to 4 5

5 9. Develop partnerships and dialogue between arts organisations and the The strength of AccessArts programs has developed from a number of early year sector to consider ways to meaningfully engage with young partnerships and collaborations, which have been geared towards connecting a audiences in arts activities, events, festivals and performances. diverse audience. Prior to co-developing the Creative Connections in the Early Years project, AccessArt had supported TEYFs work in a consultative capacity 10. Run education and awareness-raising initiatives that target parents and for a number of years. The partnership between these two organisations is an the general public. especially effective one. The learning from the development phase of the Creative Connections in the Early The TEYF report Outcomes in the early years: the state of Tasmanias young Years project provides clear direction for the future. There is much work to be children shows that outcomes are poor on a number of indicators of childrens done to ensure young children in Tasmania, particularly those from more vulnerable health and development and that there are particular geographical areas of communities, access opportunities for creative play, artistic activity and cultural vulnerability in the Tasmanian community.1 Child and Family Centres are currently experiences. Supporting parents, educators and caregivers is absolutely essential being established in areas of disadvantage to help address these vulnerabilities. to achieving this goal. As a result of the research, consultation and trial programs, Meanwhile, the Department of Education supports Launching into Learning the Creative Connections in the Early Years partners TEYF and TMAG AccessArt programs for children from birth to four years of age and their parents. There are program are now well placed to champion a new direction for creativity and the many services for young children around the state, and many currently target arts for young children in this State. vulnerable communities, however programming for creativity within early years services varies greatly. 3.Background Creative Connections in the Early Years sought to find out about the current role of creativity through the arts for Tasmanias young children by connecting and The TEYF was established in 2007, with the vision that every Tasmanian child working with key stakeholders including: be given the best possible start in life as a foundation for a healthy, happy and positive future. It soon became apparent that there were many issues and service Early years educators and teachers in education and childcare settings. gaps affecting young children and their families, including many children having Artists, arts organisations and arts workers, particularly those who work limited opportunities for meaningful creative activities. One important stimulus for with young children. action was the Reggio Emilia conference held in Hobart that year, which offered a philosophy and vision for how services might look, based on its emphasis on Community organisations, government and non government agencies aesthetic environments for young children and collaborative arts practices, who work with young children and families. together with community engagement. Parents and the general community. AccessArt is TMAGs dedicated art education unit. Fully funded by Detached Cultural Organisation since 2008, it delivers programs for all ages with a focus on interpreting contemporary visual art and hands-on engagement in art practice. At the core of all AccessArt activities is a commitment to increasing access to and participation in contemporary culture, particularly for remote and disadvantaged communities. AccessArts activities span in-house programs at TMAG and Detached Gallery, community outreach, professional learning for industry peers and the development of new art educational resources. In just over three years AccessArt has emerged as one of the most reliable and exciting providers of quality art education outside of the formal education sector in Tasmania. 6 7

6 I liked being with mum. Child participant 8 9

7 4. Creative arts and young children: Current research Role of adults in childrens creativity Creativity and the arts can contribute significantly to human development and The attitudes and actions of parents, teachers and community members shape wellbeing during the early years of life from birth to the age of six. Extensive and influence a childs environment, and can either support or thwart their research supporting this is now available from a range of disciplines including creativity.14 The role of an interlocutor is important, where an adult takes time to education, health and wellbeing, business, science and psychology. play and converse with a child, following the childs imagination on a journey of discovery and meaning making. Creativity Play is important in developing parent-child bonding15, and this can be stimulated Creativity has been described as both a process of generating ideas linked with by using creative arts activities. A United States study suggests that opportunities problem solving, and a personality trait where originality, independence, curiosity for play, particularly for children living in lower socio-economic areas, have reduced and artistry are valued.2 A recent meta-analysis of the creativity literature identified due to current changes in lifestyle, technology and family structure.16 The Australian five habits of mind of creative people they are inquisitive, persistent, imaginative, Government has also acknowledged the importance of play in growth and disciplined and collaborative.3 When we are engaged in a creative process, we development, making it an integral part of the Early Years Learning Framework.17 often become totally absorbed in what we are doing and this sense of flow in play and work is linked to our enjoyment and wellbeing.4 Educational models E. Paul Torrance, a leading researcher of creativity, suggested that we are most Many educators have called for greater attention to the role of the arts and creativity creative at the age of four.5 Children engage with the world in a process that is in educational settings. United Kingdom specialist Sir Ken Robinson argues that naturally inquisitive and enables them to explore, experiment and communicate. education has undervalued the arts subjects and as a result children are losing their Playing with visual art materials, following pace and rhythm in music and dance, creative capacities.18 He points out that it is in making mistakes that we can come hearing and telling stories are some of the many ways that children can engage up with original ideas, but that many children learn to be afraid of making mistakes. with the world around them. Many early years educators have recognised the importance of this for learning and for physical, cognitive, sensory and brain A variety of educational models focus on the child and their inherent curiosity development.6,7,8 and creativity. One in particular, the Italian-based Reggio Emilia philosophy sees teachers as co-learners in childrens development. It also highlights the importance Benefits of engaging in the arts of the aesthetic environment and features the use of the atelier, a studio where artists can practice and engage with children.19 The emphasis in these centres is The arts provide a valuable avenue for experiencing our creativity and the wider the process of creativity, rather than the outcome. benefits of arts engagement are well documented.9,10,11 At a personal level they include greater self confidence, an active imagination, a sense of belonging, A childrens literacy model known as ORIM has been adapted to arts-based empowerment, and improved wellbeing and educational performance. At a learning.20 It distinguishes four elements through which children learn and develop: community level, they include active citizenship, improved social cohesion, materials and experiences, imagination, skills, and talking about the arts. It also reduced social isolation, reduced crime levels and increased employment rates. identifies four ways that learning can be facilitated: providing opportunities, giving recognition, interaction and modelling. These two aspects can be mapped in Australian research into arts participation in schools shows that it has a positive matrix form and used to design a range of activities. impact on student learning in areas such as social and personal development, attitudes to learning , literacy, numeracy, enjoyment and value of the arts.12 A Artist-led models study of Learning Through the Arts, a Canadian educational program that uses arts-based activities to teach the core curriculum, found that students showed Artists and arts educators in educational settings can bring quality art experiences, improvements in mathematical scoring when compared to control schools.13 and opportunities for interaction with, and modelling of, art making. The UK charity 10 11

8 Creativity Culture and Education, led by CEO Paul Collard, has run the Creative Australian Programs and Activities Partnerships program for the past decade, funding creative professionals to work Nationally, there is a large range of opportunities where arts and creativity for young in partnership with teachers and students in schools and early years settings. children is valued. There has been a focus on working in lower socio-economic communities and providing professional development for teachers, and there are now many inspiring Childcare Centres where artists are employed to deliver arts experiences stories of children creating and learning in their school environments, with real e.g. Melbourne Early Learning Centre and their childrens art gallery, improvements in school attendance and engagement. Collard has recently been Illawarra Children Services, which has an artist studio and offers regular Thinker in Residence with the Western Australian Commission for Children and artist-led sessions. Young People and while there highlighted the importance of developing creative thinking in educational settings.21 Museums and Art Galleries that offer art programs for young children e.g. National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, TMAG. Research into childrens participation in artist-led activities at Melbournes ArtPlay a civic studio where children can be creative and express themselves in an open Childrens arts festivals e.g. Awesome International Arts Festival for and supportive environment showed deep engagement of children and their Bright Young Things in Perth, South Coast Childrens Festival in parents and carers. Focused participation and high levels of curiosity and interest Wollongong, Sydney Childrens Festival, Adelaides Come Out Festival, were observed, and the environment, interactions, materials, time and experience and Brisbanes Out of the Box Festival, which specifically targets children were found to be key components.22 aged 3-8 years. Council-run services e.g. ArtPlay in Melbourne, which offers artist-led Arts organisations creative experiences for children and families in a specially designed Responding to artwork and performances is another way that children engage setting. their curiosity and thinking, and it also provides a vehicle for communication.23 Artist in Residence programs e.g. the AIR program, an Australia The Queensland Performing Arts Centre has developed guidelines for how arts Council initiative with artists working in education settings. The ACT and organisations can work with parents and young children.24 These suggest that Queensland have a number in early childhood settings. for arts programming to successfully engage young children, it should centre on their experience, support parents, and acknowledge cultural life as a collective Arts Organisations such as Melbournes Polyglot Theatre, which provides and collaborative responsibility. interactive experiences for children and families, and Adelaides Patch Theatre, which specialises in theatre for 4-8 year olds. Arts Council England also offers principles for delivering quality programming Early learning programs inspired by arts learning methods e.g. for and by children and young people.25 It describes 10 characteristics including Kindergarten and schools inspired by Reggio Emilia, and schools based leadership and commitment, achieving outcomes for healthy children, integrating on Steiner and Montessori philosophies. arts across other curriculum areas, high quality artistic experiences, hearing the voices of children, training and professional development, networks, sustainability, Within Tasmania, there are also a number of initiatives, described later in this report evaluation and celebrating success. (see page 25) 12 13

9 I had never thought of drawing a story and using this as a way to communicate. Foster parent 14 15

10 5. Project aims and methodology The long-term vision driving this project is that every Tasmanian child has the 3. Share the knowledge, skills and confidence of all those individuals and opportunity to enhance their creativity, and that parents and caregivers have the organisations who work with young children, in order to assess how confidence to provide creative experiences. The aim of this initial project was to childrens engagement in creative experiences can be increased. develop programs and support for creative art experiences for children in the early years of life. 4. Raise community awareness of the role of the arts in healthy development, particularly its value for early years literacy and numeracy. 5.1 Governance 5. Strengthen relationships and understanding between parents, carers, The TEYF and TMAG AccessArt program partnered to support the project, with community members and children through the process of creating and Leigh Tesch engaged as project consultant in May 2011. A steering committee was learning together. established with representation from the early years, arts and community sectors. Members were: 5.3 Expected Outcomes Sue Jenkins 1. Early years practitioners informed about and engaged with this Creative Chair, Tasmanian Early Years Foundation Connections in the Early Years project. Mark Green 2. Increased dialogue within the arts and early years sectors about the CEO, Tasmanian Early Years Foundation importance of the early years and the contribution of the arts to child Bec Tudor development. Co-ordinator Art Education, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 3. Program model developed for artists working in early years settings. Suzanne Purdon Senior Project Officer, Centre for Community Child Health 4. Two trial programs conducted and formally evaluated. Michael McLaughlin 5. A minimum of three workshops and three community forums conducted Community Cultural Development Officer, Glenorchy City Council between November 2011 and June 2012. Cheryl Larcombe Principal Project Officer Early Years, Department of Education 6. Research synthesized and made accessible through presentations and publications available to the sector and the community. The steering committee met every 46 weeks throughout the project, initially guiding the development of the project plan, then monitoring progress of the 7. Proposal for program funding beyond the development phase developed. activities. Working groups were formed and people co-opted as needed. 5.2 Project Objectives 1. Gain a sound understanding of leading examples of encouraging young childrens creative development in a range of early years settings and communities relevant to Tasmania. 2. Hear parents, caregivers and families ideas and feedback in regard to fostering and engaging their childs creativity. 16 17

11 5.4 Key Activities Consultation with practitioners from the early years, arts and community sectors. This was to find out about existing programs and models, ascertain demand, gaps and ideas, and establish dialogue and partnerships. Research into current literature, with a trial of two programs. This was to gather together existing evidence, document and disseminate that evidence, trial programs based on credible programs, and assess the feasibility of a physical base. Forums and workshops with arts organisations and early years practitioners. This was to raise awareness, enable dialogue and networking, explore challenges and offer opportunities for professional development. An action plan with specific strategies under the three activity areas is included in Appendix A. Details about how each activity area progressed and what emerged are set out in the next section. 18 19

12 I do get more confident with trying these things and knowing how to use the product so it has been beneficial to me. Foster parent 20 21

13 6. Key activities and findings 6.1 Consultation creative process with their children, and that there is an over-reliance on television, video consoles and similar technology. It was also suggested that children in The Creative Connections project consulted broadly with practitioners from the vulnerable communities have fewer opportunities for creative engagement. early years, arts and community sectors. Stakeholders were asked about the current status of arts and creativity in the early years in Tasmania, as well as current The educators role in the creative experience was also raised. Some people gaps, resources and ideas about future opportunities. Meetings and discussions commented that there tends to be an emphasis on an end product to give to were held with key individuals and groups and an online survey was conducted. parents, and that time pressures often limit meaningful creative exchanges between young children and their carers. Meetings and Discussions Early years sector Online Survey Discussions were held with Launching into Learning coordinators, Child and Family The purpose of the online survey was to investigate the current skills, experience Centre leaders and community representatives, the manager for the statewide and resources available in the state, find out about barriers and enablers, and seek professional development program for early year educators based at Gowrie; suggestions for further development. A detailed report is included at Appendix B. individual teachers and early year educators, including the Reggio Emilia Research Network; and through site visits to Gowrie Centres. The survey was distributed widely through the networks of the early years, arts and community sectors. There were 103 responses, with 51% from early years Links were also made with the University of Tasmanias School of Education; the education and care programs, 29% from the arts sector and 20% from community University of Melbourne, through arts and education lecturer Robert Brown and organisations. Director of the Early Learning Centre, Jan Deans; and ArtPlay Melbourne, through creative producer Simon Spain. Contact was also made with Professor Cathy It confirmed that Tasmanian practitioners share the view that creative opportunities Nutbrown of the University of Sheffield, who has a special interest in arts based are very important for young children, particularly for their self expression, learning learning in the early years. and development, imagination and discovery, flexibility and resilience, and self esteem. Around half of the respondents were aware of specific successful Arts sector programs in Tasmania. Discussions were held with individual artists working with young children, arts organisations; community cultural development programs such as Kickstart Arts, Each sector had a unique perspective of the enablers and barriers to creative Interweave Arts Association and Creature Tales; regional galleries and performing engagement, summarised in the table below. All the sectors noted the enablers arts companies; and Arts Tasmania, specifically the Artist in Residence program of professional development and developing networks, and that community and and Artsite program. The project consultant also attended a Creativity Conference parent attitudes and perceptions did not always recognise the value of the in Wollongong NSW on the topic of children and creativity. creative process. Community Sector Discussions were held with local government representatives, the Tasmanian Association for Community Houses, and the Early Childhood Move Well Eat Well initiative within Population Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Parents of young children were consulted through the trial programs. Summary of Discussions Key points discussed were the value of arts based learning in the early years, the importance of parent attitudes and understanding, and the need to work with families. There were suggestions that many parents dont have time to connect in a 22 23

14 Community sector Arts sector Barriers Enablers Barriers Enablers Lack of funding, time and space, Resources, ideas Lack of funding, pathways to projects Opportunities for projects ideas Professional development Arts and benefits not valued or Support and networking Lack of confidence of workers, understood by community knowledge of art experiences Opportunities for projects Mentoring Lack of training and support / Parent attitudes Regular visits/involvement limited understanding of child Induction, orientation and training of artists development Low status of arts Mess Tasmanian Programs and Activities Legal issues e.g. public liability In Tasmania, there are a number of initiatives offering valuable programs for young children, although many are on a small scale. TMAG offers outreach activities statewide through its AccessArt program Early years sector Health promotion workers in community health settings have used artists Barriers Enablers to offer programs with dance, puppetry, and drama with young children. Lack of expertise, experience Resources, ideas Some local councils have supported artists or arts organisation to run Timetabling, education outcomes Professional development programs for young children e.g. Kingborough Kids Allowed. and assessments Resources to encourage parents Some arts organisations target areas of disadvantage and work with Community perception of art communities that may involve young children e.g. Creature Tales, product rather than the process/ Regular visits/involvement Kickstart Arts, Big hART. parent attitudes of artists Some performing arts companies offer programs and classes for young Lack of recognition of the value of Support and networking children e.g. Tasdance. arts in the community A small number of music therapists work with young children and parents Funding for resources e.g. Sing & Grow program. Confidence Regional galleries such as Launcestons Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and the Devonport Art Gallery have community education programs No specialist, or someone to help and holiday programs that target young children. 24 25

15 Some private tuition in visual art, music, dance and drama is available for 6.2 Research Trial Programs children under six e.g. childrens dance schools. Two trial programs where a visual artist worked with children, parents and carers was conducted in two different settings. An Art Educator from TMAGs AccessArt Some teachers and educators use arts-rich experiences such as those program, Rosie McKeand, designed the program content and led the artistic inspired by the Reggio Emilia model. process, assisted by project consultant Leigh Tesch. Some childcare and pre-school services provide art exhibition experiences The objectives of the trial programs were to: e.g. New Horizons Preschool and Northern Childrens Network, which has a regular Art Tastic art exhibition. Enable parents, carers and staff to recognise and value their own creative thinking, and increase their skills and confidence in providing opportunities Launching into Learning coordinators already use, and are keen to use for creative activities with children in their care. more, creative activities. Provide children with a quality creative arts experience. Play groups and neighbourhood houses run programs at times e.g. Claywork. Recognise and value the childs perspective in the creative process. Learning and Information Network Centres (LINCs) offer weekly or school holiday program programs that sometimes include arts approaches Develop a shared language to support childrens expression, learning and stories and to connect with children as they make their stories visible. The Fahan School uses a Reggio Emilia philosophy. Arts Tasmania arranges artist commissions for work for new buildings The creative tasks and activities were designed to build confidence with art through the Art Site program e.g. the newly built Child and Family Centres materials and offer adults practical ideas for engaging with children. A variety of have art installations, sculptures and mosaics. Some of these works have visual art methods were explored using pencil, art-liner pens, charcoal, pastels, been inspired by discussions with local young children and families. oil pastels, clay and printmaking. Arts Tasmania also runs the national Artist in Residence program, which The two programs were devised specifically to suit each participant group. The in Tasmania currently has a focus on high schools. program design drew on TMAG AccessArts extensive experience in program delivery, in outreach programs specifically. It was also influenced by current Individual artists work with young children on a variety of projects e.g. in research about components of engagement 26, the ORIM framework of support childcare centres and local government programs. for childrens learning with arts experiences 27, and components of quality programming.28,29 1. Children in Out of Home Care Program The first program was for foster parents, children and case workers and was held at the Parenting Centre in New Town. It was developed and promoted in consultation with staff from Children and Youth Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. The program was a sequential series of three morning sessions about two weeks apart. Each session workshop began with a session for foster carers, enabling 26 27

16 them to learn techniques and explore their own creative process. After a morning tea break, the children joined their foster parents to extend the learning through I liked thinking about shared creative activities. Case workers were encouraged to join both parts of the session. Take home kits with some art materials were provided to the children to art in a different way. enable continued art-making in between sessions. Foster carer 2. Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre Program Feedback from staff about skills, confidence and creative thinking The second program was held for children, families and staff at Beaconsfield There was positive feedback from staff about the value of professional development Child and Family Centre, with two outreach visits six weeks apart. The program and opportunities for engaging with clients. One case worker who attended the out was developed in consultation with the centre leader, community liaison officer and of home care program described in detail how he used the skills he had learned at Launching into Learning coordinator. Sessions were offered to established groups an access visit between a father and his child. at the centre, including playgroup, childcare, pre-kinder, and Launching into Learning. As with the out of care program, the sessions focused on parents for the I was going to see a father and child where the father hadnt spent much time with first hour, with the children joining them for the second. A professional development his children at all like 20 minutes every three weeks and now he had three hours session was provided to centre staff on each visit, and an additional program each week, so its been a real stretch for him. We started doing the art activities and tailored for primary school teachers was well attended. the father and his three year old child ended up making fancy hats with feathers and stars and that sort of thing. The father wore it and they went outside and played like Evaluation findings an Indian game. It was really good. This father has since had another access visit In evaluating the program, feedback was sought from participants in interviews, without me, and he came prepared. Hed made some play-dough! Hes got the questionnaires and observations. This was carried out by the project consultant. idea to actually plan some activities! A summary is provided below and the full report is included in Appendix C. Case Worker Structure and organisation Staff and teachers who attended the professional development sessions at the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre reported feeling more confident and Participants rated the programming and arrangements positively. Parents and comfortable in their approach to working creatively with young children. They said carers appreciated being in a physical environment that was comfortable and they gained tips, techniques and ideas that were directly applicable to their work. enabled privacy, and which allowed them time to explore their own creative They also described becoming less concerned about the end product or their own expression. It was helpful to have a second facilitator to assist with logistics, and artistic ability, and finding new perspectives about art-making and communication support from the host settings was essential. that they can explore with children and parents. Feedback from parents and carers about skills, confidence and It really extended my thinking about the processes of being creative and the creative thinking potential for storytelling. Parents and carers reported increased skills and confidence in being able to Teacher provide creative opportunities for their children and this was also noted by observers. After initial apprehension, they soon became highly engaged in the I lean towards more structured activities, then I stress too much about what activities and described new ways of thinking, learning new ideas, and gaining a children should be able to produce instead of just letting them experiment. sense of achievement. All the parents and foster carers who attended were women. Teacher 28 29

17 Feedback from the children Children were asked to provide feedback either verbally or through a drawing. Their feedback reinforced their sense of being present in the moment, the immediacy of their experience and that the art activities were part of their whole experience rather than anything specifically challenging. They showed pride in their achievements and some of them assisted the adults with techniques. Look! I made light orange. Child participant Developing a shared language to support childrens expression Feedback indicated that parents and children were developing a shared language and building the relationship of child and carer through making art. There were many examples of listening and prompting stories, and sharing experiences, techniques and ideas. I provide a lot of materials and sit with the kids but dont always know how to get more involved with them. This gives you another basis to prompt communication. Parent 30 31

18 Enablers and barriers to support children learning through creative experience Model of practice The analysis of the evaluation data indicated the following barriers and enablers: The two trial programs enabled valuable learning about how best to support creative engagement with adults and young children. The above enablers are Barriers Enablers key factors in building a model of practice, along with current research, our recent experience and feedback from participants. They are summarised as follows: Not enough time to develop, Skilled leadership of the arts establish relationships and skills practitioner Central to this model is the skilled artist or art educator who is able to work well with children and parents. The artist needs to have skills in Undervaluing the importance of Safe environments that are non- listening to young children and to be able to engage with the childrens separate sessions for adults judgemental and not competitive ideas in a shared creative process as collaborators. They need to enable safe supportive environments, as well as being flexible and practical. Difficulties finding engaging and Social connection and support of inviting ways to promote programs. a group Around the artist is a team to support their work. This includes the roles of assisting and planning logistics, marketing and promoting the program, Preferences and preconceived Activities that are practical and and expertise in the early years. ideas e.g. about art being messy or achievable not an enjoyable activity Senior management of the host organisations need to endorse and support Individual openness to learning the program. The organisation needs to allow for adequate preparation time Focus on and control of the end and ongoing programs to follow up and further build skills and relationships. Ongoing programming opportunities product rather than the process They also need to consider sustainable approaches that build capacity and to develop and follow up skill embed regular creative arts experiences as part of their practice. Programs development Adult perceptions around creativity may need to be explained and promoted in ways that engage people and and the arts, particularly past attract participation. Strategies to embed creative negative experiences with the arts practices in settings and build Ongoing evaluation, quality improvement and research possibilities should and self-criticism about their own capacity be considered. creative ability Support structures linking with Finally the model needs to involve the trusted adults caring for or teaching Limited expectations of what expertise and support in the early the young children. Because of their own experiences and perceptions, children can achieve years settings adults may initially be reluctant. Separate parent sessions can reduce apprehension and give time for their own hands-on exploration. Adequate time for set up and to Professional development sessions for staff are also essential. support planning and preparation Consideration for the role of organising, logistics and marketing of the program Parent-only sessions before working together with the children Quality professional development opportunities for staff 32 33

19 I went away and thought about how easy it would be to do something. program at Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre received print media coverage So last week at playgroup I took some of the materials down. It was just amazing. in The Examiner and the statewide forum received print and television news The children one of them drew a long-necked animal, one was 18 months, so coverage, featuring interviews with Melbourne Universitys Robert Brown, one of it was lines on paper. And the level of engagement with the parents was just the keynote speakers. amazing for us. We saw the stunning effect. That was the wow factor! And then the parents stayed and played for a good forty minutes once the children had Young Children, the Arts and Creativity: A Way Forward for Tasmania left the activity. November Forum Beaconsfield Teacher This first forum at the Moonah Arts Centre brought together over 40 invited representatives from key organisations to establish dialogue between the arts We took pencils and and early years sectors. With sponsorship from the UTAS School of Education, the forum was able to host Dr Nick Owen from Aspire Trust in the UK as keynote paper when we went speaker. His presentation, You wanna be a partner? The impact of new forms of cultural partnership on the early years setting was well received. A hypothetical camping recently we session followed, where a panel of arts sector representatives and early childhood practitioners and educators discussed the development of a fictional arts project looked at wildlife and the focused on early childhood participation in the creative process. A facilitated discussion then considered the question, What is needed to build capacity in beach. I encouraged her Tasmania for creativity and the arts in the early years of life? to draw what she saw. Written feedback revealed positive feedback overall and highlighted the importance Better than just saying of opportunities like this to network, share practice and showcase projects. do a picture. We have A well constructed event, creating the conversation that can lead to creative outcomes. just done more drawing. Participant feedback Parent Lots of passion and commitment opportunities for partnerships are strong. Participant feedback 6.3 Forums and Workshops Presentations and Media The project consultant gave a number of presentations about the project and the role of creativity through the arts with young children. These included the Early Years Launching into Learning coordinators statewide meeting in Campbelltown, a Child and Family Centre forum in Georgetown, the Reggio Emilia Research Network, Tasmanian Leaders program seminar, and the Tasmanian Infant Mental Health conference in Hobart. A media launch was held on September 2011 at Possums Day Care Centre in Taroona and resulted in coverage in print and television news broadcasts. The trial 34 35

20 Young Children, the Arts and Creativity Statewide Forum A two-day professional development event was held at the Tailrace Centre in Launceston for people in the arts, early years and community sectors. Over 140 people attended, with the venue exceeding capacity. A full report about the forum was compiled by Fiona Ferguson, independent evaluator, and is included in Appendix D. Keynote Speakers were Simon Spain of ArtPlay Melbourne, Robert Brown of the University of Melbourne and, with sponsorship from the UTAS School of Education, Professor Susan Wright, also of the University of Melbourne. Tasmanian presenters also offered concurrent sessions and showcased local projects. Artists who had worked with young children ran hands-on workshops. The program is attached in Appendix E. Feedback about the program was very positive, reporting that the practical arts-based workshops, keynote presentations, and showcased projects were particularly valuable, as well as opportunities to network and make connections with other disciplines. The report of the forum recommends further opportunities for networking for educators, artists, early childhood professionals and community members, including targeted workshops, future Statewide forums, organised visits to ArtPlay in Melbourne, and the creation of an artist register for educators and early childhood professionals. Sharing knowledge, collaborating and investigating art with others. Participant feedback Learning about creative ways of working with children and using different materials and means to engage children. Participant feedback 36 37

21 A well constructed event, creating the conversation that can lead to creative outcomes. Participant feedback 38 39

22 7. Conclusions and recommendations The Creative Connections in the Early Years project has engaged early years page 27. Programs need to involve skilled artists who can share a creative practice practitioners and the arts sector in consultation, information sharing and in collaboration with children, and parents need to be involved. Early years settings networking. As a result of our trial programs, research and consultation, key need to provide specialist expertise, endorse programs and support preparation enablers for a model of best practice for artist-led initiatives and programs in early time, logistics and professional development opportunities. Strategies for evaluation year settings have been identified. Building on the success of the project so far, and sustainability need to be inbuilt into these programs. the following recommendations provide a framework for the second phase of the project. Currently there are few opportunities and little funding for such programs and initiatives need to be developed through partnerships and networks. Statewide support for the value of creativity through the arts for young children Recommended Action 3 The Creative Connections project has confirmed that practitioners value the role of creative experiences through the arts for young childrens development; however Further develop and promote a model of best practice for quality programming in the survey showed that only half of the respondents knew of any successful this area. This would cover ways that skilled artists can co-create with children, programs in Tasmania. Currently there are very few opportunities and limited how to achieve effective parent involvement, and structures within early years funding for creative arts practitioners to work with young children in Tasmania. Of settings for supporting and continuing such ongoing and sustainable programs. the few programs that do exist, often practitioners, particularly artists, are working in isolation, and programs are scattered and ad hoc. There is no statewide Recommended Action 4 coordination, or real pathway to recognising skills, or to resourcing, developing and Provide quality creative arts programs in early year and community settings, such ensuring quality practice. A central statewide resource base for practitioners would as artists in residence or regular artists visits. These should target vulnerable or at support and promote creativity through the arts for young children and provide a risk communities, for example, by having ongoing programs in Child and Family springboard for initiatives and opportunities. Centres and in out of home care. Funding would need to be sourced for such programs. Recommended Action 1 Creative Connections in the Early Years needs to continue as an entity, supported The role of artists or art educators by TEYF and TMAG, to promote the importance of creativity through the arts in the Results of the survey and feedback from the forums and trial programs showed that early years and act as a conduit for projects, and resource base for practitioners. early years and community practitioners would value working with artists in these This can involve web-based resources and networking. types of programs. Recommended Action 2 Recommended Action 5 With TMAG currently undergoing redevelopment, it is an ideal opportunity to locate Provide opportunities for artists from a variety of disciplines and art forms to work a physical home or centre of excellence for early years creative engagement in early year settings and receive professional development, including peer support in Tasmania, with an annual calendar of programs led by a dedicated coordinator and mentoring. working with commissioned specialists. TEYF would continue to provide and enable sector development, expertise in the early years, developing resources, networking Increasing the confidence of parents opportunities, and capacity building. Additional funding would be needed as this vision is beyond the current capacities of these organisations. Adults can be critical of their own creative abilities, they may have had negative past experiences of arts engagement, or they may see creativity as being in the A model of best practice for artists working with young children and families realm of elite artists. These perspectives can sometimes result in them feeling uncomfortable with creative opportunities and, for parents, reluctant to play with The key enablers of a model that successfully engages young children in creative their child using creative materials. Parents who attended the trial programs said experiences have been identified and are described in a model of best practice on 40 41

23 they felt more confident and reported learning new ways of engaging creatively with Dialogue with arts organisations and early years their children. The practical hands-on sessions with ideas for activities and materials The Creative Connections project initiated a dialogue between arts and early years were helpful. practitioners. There was a strong interest in shared initiatives. Young children are a present and future audience and arts organisations and companies expressed Recommended Action 6 interest in reaching this audience in a meaningful way. Arts activities, events, Involve parents in programs with young children. Engaging parents to experience festivals and performances that include potential audiences of young children can their own creative process can increase their confidence in being able to interact promote and highlight the importance of creative expression through the arts playfully and imaginatively with their child. Meanwhile, further consideration is needed in how to promote engagement, and encourage parents, particularly Recommended Action 9 fathers, to attend programs and opportunities. Develop partnerships and dialogue between arts organisations and the early years sector to consider ways to meaningfully engage with very young audiences in arts Needs of early years teachers and educators activities, events, festivals and performances. A number of early year practitioners also reported discomfort engaging in the arts. In addition, pressures of time for assessment and operational responsibilities in Public perception programs meant that taking time to create with children became a lower priority. Although practitioners in the arts, early years and community sectors value They also described a preference for instant results that focus on children creating creativity and the arts, they suggest that this is not the case for the general public. an end product to take home, rather than experimentation and exploration. The Barriers identified through the survey and the trial programs included community consultation revealed that educators wanted ideas and resources to support their perceptions that undervalue the role of the arts, and a lack of recognition of its work with young children and would value working with artists. importance for growth and development of young children. Recommended Action 7 Recommended Action 10 Establish professional development opportunities for early years practitioners that Run education and general awareness-raising initiatives and events that target provide ideas and resources, and increase their confidence in using creative art parents and the general public. Marketing and media strategies need to be activities with young children. developed to engage people who may be hard to reach. Networking and learning opportunities Conclusion The forums were hugely successful and indicated the desire for practitioners to The Creative Connections in the Early Years project in its development phase meet together when possible to continue promoting and developing practice in has celebrated the value of creative experiences for young children and provided creativity, arts and young children. valuable insights into how opportunities for greater access and engagement can be created here in Tasmania. It has been a year of learning for many sectors and Recommended Action 8 communities, and the time and commitment from the many people involved is Continue networking opportunities that bring together the arts, early years and appreciated. It will be important to build on the momentum created, in order that community sectors, along with parents and caregivers. A forum to showcase every child has the opportunity to realise their potential. If we can do this, Tasmania projects and offer hands-on learning should take place annually in Tasmania. has a bright and creative future. Opportunities for visiting artists to give workshops to the early years sector and mentoring for artists and early year practitioners should be explored. 42 43

24 It really extended my thinking about the process of being creative and the potential for storytelling. Teacher 44 45

25 8.Acknowledgements The author would like to thankfully acknowledge the support of the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery AccessArt program, the Creative Connections in the Early Years Steering Committee and support from the Sidney Myer Fund. Photography and design by Sarah Foley. 46 47

26 9.References 1 Tasmanian Early Years Foundation 2009, Outcomes in the early years: the state 16 Milteer, R & Ginsburg, K 2011, The Importance of Play in Promoting Health Child of Tasmanias young children. A report on the Tasmanian Early Years Foundations Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in Outcomes Framework. Poverty, Pediatrics 129:pp204213. 2 Wright, S 2010, Understanding creativity in early childhood, Sage. Department Of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) 2009, 17 Belonging, Being and Becoming; The Early Years learning framework for Australia, 3 Collard, P 2012, Report of the 2011 Thinker in Residence: unlocking creativity, Australian Government. Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia. 18 Robinson, K 2006, 4 Csikszentmihalyi, M 1997, Finding flow: the psychology of engagement with creativity.html. everyday life, BasicBooks, New York. 19 Reggio Children, 2011, the Reggio Emilia approach. (available from www. 5 Isbell, R & Raines, S 2003, Creativity and the Arts with Young Children, Delmar Learning, Canada. Nutbrown C, 2011, Conceptualising arts-based learning in the early years, 20 6 Wright, S, same as 2. Research Papers in Education, 6 July 2011. 7 Isbell, R & Raines, S, same as 5. Collard, P 2011, Report of the 2011 Thinker in Residence: Unlocking Creativity, 21 8 Toye, N & Prendiville, F 2000, Drama and Traditional Story for The Early Years, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia. Routledge. 22 Brown, R, Andersen, J & Weatherald, H 2010, Exploring engagement at ArtPlay: 9 Barraket, DJ 2005, Putting People in the Picture? The role of the arts in social What factors influence the engagement of children and families in an artist-led inclusion. Social Policy Working Paper No 4, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Centre community-based workshop? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood vol. 35, for Public Policy, University of Melbourne. no. 3 p127-132. 10 Matarasso, F 1997, Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation In The 23 Piscitelli, B 1988, Preschoolers and parents as artist and art appreciators, Art Arts. Comedia, Stroud, UK. Education vol. 41, no. 4 pp. 48-55 11 Williams, D 1995, Creating Social Capital, A Study Of The Long-Term Benefits 24 Queensland Performing Arts Centre 2005, Children, their parents and the arts: From Community Based Arts Funding, Community Arts Network, South Australia, some guidelines for working with parents of young children Adelaide. 25 Arts Council England, 2006, Arts Matters: How the arts can help meet the needs 12 Hunter, M 2005, Education and The Arts Research Overview: A Summary Report of children and young people Prepared For The Australia Council For The Arts, Australian Government. 26 Brown et al, same as 22 13 Smithrim, K & Upitis, R 2005, Learning Through The Arts: Lessons of 27 Nutbrown, same as 20 Engagement Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de lducation, Vol. 28, No. 1/2 pp. 109127. 28 Arts Council England, same as 25 14 Wright, S, same as 2. 29 Queensland Performing Arts Centre, same as 24 15 Ginsburg, K 2007, The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent Child Bonds, Pediatrics, 119. p182191. 48 49

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