The centrality of visual arts education
Art is a unique way of knowing and understanding the world. Purposeful visual arts activities expand children's ways of exploring, expressing and coming to terms with the world they inhabit in a structured and enjoyable way.
Children first learn to respond aesthetically to their environment through touch, taste, sound and smell, and their natural curiosity suggests a need for sensory experience. Visual arts education helps to develop sensory awareness, enhances sensibilities and emphasises particular ways of exploring, experimenting and inventing. The visual arts curriculum provides for a wide range of activities which enable the child to develop ideas through imagery, thus providing a necessary balance to the wider curriculum. Learning in and through art can contribute positively to children's sense of personal and cultural identity and to their whole development.
The visual arts in a child-centred curriculum
Each child possesses a range of intelligences and he/she needs a variety of learning experiences in order to develop them fully. Visual arts activities enable children to make sense of and to express their world in visual, tangible form. They can also be unifying forces in children's learning and development: drawing, painting, inventing and constructing bring together different elements of children's experience from which a whole new experience can develop. Understanding visual imagery opens additional ways of learning for children and enables them to record real or imagined ideas and feelings. Opportunities to explore and investigate the visual elements in their environment help them to appreciate the nature of things and to channel their natural curiosity for educational ends. The confidence and enjoyment that stem from purposeful visual arts activities can have a positive effect on children's learning in other areas of the curriculum.
Children who have had experience in exploring and experimenting with a variety of art materials and media are likely, as they develop, to produce art that is personal. A quality visual arts programme ensures that each child has a variety of enriching visual arts experiences in both two- and threedimensional media.