Perhaps you've seen the signs in your town: Preschool of the Arts.
There are variations in Ellington, Conn.; New York, N.Y.; Wilmington, N.C.; and other U.S. cities.
The mind reels with thoughts of petite portrait artists and baby ballerinas. Can't you just imagine a studio full of mini-Morisots and diapered Daumiers? An orchestra of tiny violinists and toddling tympanists? And a remake of The Little Rascals by, well, little rascals?
Why is a preschool of the arts a good and necessary thing for young children?
Often, the arts are considered an extracurricular activity in education, says Sojin Chi of the Preschool of the Arts in Madison, Wis. "But I do believe that it is a critical component in all education, especially in early childhood education."
The arts, she says:
- Lend themselves to hands-on experiences: Young children can explore the world firsthand.
- Offer a language for pre-verbal children.
- Provide a form of beauty and aesthetics.
- Integrate naturally with other content areas.
- Are often open-ended.
"Through experiences in the arts," Chi says, "children are encouraged to be creative ... to experiment and express individual thoughts, ideas and curiosities. These are higher level critical thinking skills that we want our children to develop as future leaders of our society."
Hmm. So what's next: A Preschool of Science and Engineering? Or a Preschool of Law?
Chi entertains the question. "If done well," Chi says, "I can see a Preschool of the Sciences as a potential initiative."
However, "I don't think a Preschool for Law is appropriate."
Anchor's note: Driving in Maryland and saw professionally made signs for a Preschool of the Arts. Began to imagine the possibilities... — L.W.