- Art education for 3-7-year-old children using the example of Rapla parish preschool
- Tutor: Helen Arov
- Master Thesis
In 2008, the national curriculum of preschool institutions was adopted nationally (Section 5), where the direction from a teacher-centred learning concept to a child-centred teaching method was clearly formulated. I have been conducting dance classes for kindergarten children since 2012. In connection with this, I saw the group’s learning environments and witnessed different displays of children’s artwork. I was surprised by the great variability in what I saw. This gave me input into the starting points of kindergarten teachers in shaping their teaching practice and learning environment.
The general goal of the research was to reveal to what extent children’s institutions in Rapla municipality have adopted child-centred teaching in the learning processes of art activities, and what the main challenges felt by teachers in connection with the implementation of child-centred teaching methods are. When determining child-centred teaching, I was based on the self-determination theory, in the centre of which is child-centred teaching. To achieve the goal of the research, I analyzed the concept of learning from three points of view: self-determination theory; methods of developing children’s creativity and the meaningfulness of the teacher’s role.
In the research, I wanted to find out what methods and activities the kindergarten teacher uses to support the child’s basic needs so that the child feels competent and autonomous (Brophy, 2014). To achieve this goal, I conducted an online survey among kindergarten teachers and used a standardized content analysis method to analyze the data. When preparing the study, I was guided by the following questions. What options does the teacher give the child? How does he/she support the child’s autonomy with various art tasks to ensure the child’s internal motivation, where the child values the activity itself? How does he/she satisfy the child’s need for competence with tasks within his/her abilities, letting the child understand that he/she can ask the teacher for help? Also, how to support the need for a connection with positive directional feedback and discussions? The selection included 22 kindergarten teachers from Rapla municipality who teach 3-7-year-old children.
The results of the research revealed that the children’s institutions of Rapla municipality have adopted a child-centred approach to performing art activities, and teachers rely on the theory of self-determination and mostly understand the concepts, the need for autonomy, connection and competence.
Teachers believe that the teacher should interfere less in children’s creative work and allow the child to have free artistic expression. It also emphasizes a supportive and encouraging attitude and allows children to experiment with different materials and art forms. Kindergarten teachers use various techniques to develop children’s creativity in art practises, and some teachers also use pair and group work methods. According to the teachers, the teacher’s role in leading art activities for 3-4-year-old children is to be encouraging and supportive. However, they also find that children enjoy the process, but need less individual approach and feedback. In guiding the art activities of 5-7-year-old children, the teacher’s role is mostly associated with the fact that they give instructions and feedback. It is important to provide constructive feedback that does not inhibit creativity and supports the child’s development.
Model of artistic activities supporting the learner’s need for self-determination in early childhood education (The author’s drawing was based on Armstrong, 2021; Deci & Ryan, 2008; Dewy, 2019; Heinla, 2020; KLRÕK, 2008; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987; Mägi, 2021; Reeve & Cheon, 2021; Ryan & Deci, 2020; Zou et al., 2009; Vahtre 2005; Vahtre 2008; Vahtre, 2014; Võgotski 2016; Õun, 2010)