The Affordance of Art

By Alex Sutherland & Maggie Tierney

Maggie, our wonderful art teacher (known as an ‘atelierista’ in the Reggio Emilia Educational Approach), has been part of the HCCC community since 2019. Maggie shares with us a little about her own learning journey below:

“When I was offered a permanent position as the ’atelierista’ in an early childhood education and care context, I was at first skeptical at how much I could do with children. Little did I know they can reach realms beyond adult comprehension and hold an open mindset to all art forms. Unfortunately, this magic is something we seem lose with age.”

“Overtime, what I learnt is that we can embed a whole range of skills and dispositions for children’s learning and development through art. From emergent literacy and numeracy concepts; to cultural and subcultural appreciation; sustainability and connection to our natural world; community engagement and more. I simply find the artworks of children mind blowing and I firmly believe that nothing will set a child up better for successful transitions into school and life than art. At three years, it’s rare they can read or write – and at this age art is used as a language that supports a child’s self-expression.”

“As you will see below, an image [figure 1] is a from a child aged four who is developing their ‘writing language’ through constant daily drawing in the art studio space. Overtime, they will pick up letters with ease and shape identification and mastery is a crucial step toward that.”

As part of Maggie’s art studio program, Maggie engages children in the local community by visiting art galleries. As Maggie writes “exposing children to art galleries and artists is a rich tapestry for inspiration and ultimately learning.” This engagement in community provides children real-world experiences which in-turn often becomes reflected in their own artworks and play.

“There is no must in art because art is free”

– Wassily Kandinsky

Maggie and a group of children visiting the local gallery ‘Onwards Studio’ to look at the textile work of artist Olivia Parsonage

Figure 1

Child aged 3.9 years

Child aged 4.6 years

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