Artfully Montessori: Here is a Rationale You Can Really Use!


                                                    All photos are from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Amy is a recent AMS graduate from the Montessori Institute of Advanced Studies in Northern California and she has come up with plenty of reasons for including lots of Art in the Preschool Classroom.

I've had the pleasure of teaching (and learning from) Amy as one of her Instructors in this wonderful Montessori training program. Her paper is presented here for us early childhood educators to have some handy reasons for the importance of art in the Preschool classroom.

From Amy Mo:
"Every culture has some form of art, and it is what we do beyond the basic activities of surviving.

Art has many forms and purposes, and in the Montessori classroom, it is a way for children to experiment with materials, a way to be creative, and a way to express themselves.  Montessori believed that all children naturally want to express themselves, and they will do so either through speech, body language, drawing, or writing." 

"The instinct for self-expression looks for a means to manifest itself; and this may be in at least one of two different ways. One of these is through writing, which is used to express ideas; and the other is through representative art." (The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori p 283, Chap 20)

Amy goes on to say:
"But children have to develop their abilities to express themselves.  They have to learn to speak a language if they want to express themselves vocally.  They have to learn how to hold a pencil and control their fine motor movements in order to write.  And in order to draw, they have to have the same motor control as in writing when making lines and coloring.  Therefore Montessori approached art and drawing in the same manner as other tasks that the child must master.  She broke it down to the individual component skills, and then she created activities that allowed the child to practice and master each."

"We might note in conclusion that the best way to teach drawing is not to leave a child completely free, but to provide the means for its natural development by training the hand." (The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori p 284)
Amy continues:
"Montessori has many activities that train the hand in the practical life curriculum, and with the metal insets as part of the language arts curriculum, children have a way to work on drawing lines and coloring/shading. 

Today in the Montessori classroom, there are many other mediums in which children can express themselves through art.  They can tear or cut paper and glue them to make a collage.  They can use a variety of mediums like watercolors, crayons, charcoal, pastels, acrylic paints, tissue paper, stamps, etc.  They can also combine these mediums.  But the important part is making sure to decompose each activity into the basic skills needed and teach each skill step by step, so children can be successful while learning, experimenting, and expressing themselves with these materials."

"When a child gives up the effort to express himself with his hand, he hampers the free development of drawing. To avoid this loss, we should enrich his environment with means of expression and indirectly prepare his hand to carry out its functions in the best possible manner." (The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori p 284, Chap 20)

Amy concludes:
"Just like the Practical Life work, art activities are not only for children to express themselves, but they are also set up to entice the child to work on an activity with the objective of cultivating concentration, order, independence, and coordination.  There is no better rationale than that for having art in the classroom!"

Thank you very much, Amy, for allowing me to share your writings in this post. And, thanks again to all of you readers out there for visiting my site. 

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