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Patricia MacLaughlin

Many pre-school services including those with a play based curriculum, a Steiner Waldorf curriculum, a Montessori curriculum and a HighScope curriculum– all provide painting and drawing for children as part of their weekly, if not daily, timetable. Each pre-school’s value system affects the provision of art through its environment, its style of facilitation and its objectives for the art exercise. Areas of conflict between children’s overall associated learning skills and their creative developmental needs can be identified. Children’s propensity to learn, understand and be creative depends on their capacity to explore and make connections between the various stimuli encountered. Children are given the opportunity to experiment in art time by altering these associations in a self-guided way and to clarify and correct these new ideas by repetition. Although other parallel developmental outcomes such as cognitive, technical and perceptual skills are inseparable from, and assist, children’s creative and social development, when they are viewed as educational imperatives they can unintentionally stifle creativity by their presentation as fully resolved schemata to be learned rather than discovered and investigated. This chapter will report on issues impacting children’s creative development during art time and discuss the practical implications of teaching methods that, by prioritising associated learning skills, negatively impact on creative learning. The chapter will further examine how children’s creative needs change in relation to their social developmental stage. It will seek to underline the benefits of assessing these needs in order to provide responsive facilitation, environmental provision and art objectives.