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Intentionally supporting and extending young children’s learning about and through the visual arts: Suggestions and strategies for early childhood education teachers

Rosemary D. Richards and Lisa Terreni

The New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, encourages teachers to intentionally implement learning experiences so children learn about and through the visual arts. Acknowledging the tensions between intentional teaching and play-based learning, teachers are urged to be neither hands-off nor very structured in designing visual arts learning experiences. In the absence of practical guidance on how this might be achieved, this article synthesises a range of national and international research on early childhood (EC) arts education. Suggestions are given around purposeful provision of visual arts resources and spaces, connecting children’s home and early childhood education (ECE) art experiences, collaborations between teachers and children, extending artistic vocabulary, utilising picture books and art exhibitions, encouraging reflections and discussions about children’s artworks, establishing appreciative audiences for children’s artworks, and teachers being truly present with children in their visual-art-making endeavours.

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