Giving Compass’ Take:
• In Detroit, a program called Wolf Trap, brings in teaching artists to help students enrolled in Head Start programs to utilize arts education to prepare kids for kindergarten.
• Studies on the Detroit Wolf Trap program show proven results for younger kids. Should arts education continue to kindergarten classes and beyond?
• Arts education programs can help pre-schoolers and high school students alike. Read about how this nonprofit uses the arts to help kids advocate for themselves.
Teacher Jeanette Samuel stands up before a Head Start class and begins bouncing and chanting a song aloud in a lilting voice, while Katy Schoetzow, a performing artist, uses props to transform other parts of the room into an adventure to follow Felix the mouse to a circus.
This unique classroom experience is part of the Detroit Wolf Trap program. Twice each week at a Matrix Head Start center in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood, performing artists visit to work with instructors and students. Schoetzow was teaching the children about colors, helping them develop body coordination, and strengthen what Wolf Trap calls positional vocabulary — words like over, under, around and across.
Other teaching artists, as they are called in the program, might also use singing, dancing, drawing, and other art forms to help teachers and parents prepare children for kindergarten.
As Detroit heavily invests in early childhood education and seeks new ways to improve the quality of instruction, this is one program illustrating a path forward.
While the children are learning, so are the teachers. Schoetzow shows them how to engage the youngsters so they can continue the lessons when she’s not around. On this recent morning, Samuel has shown she has mastered singing aloud as a classroom management technique. The teachers participate in workshops, consult with Schoetzow and develop a plan for the students, and learn performance arts strategies to enhance instruction.
Researchers say the Wolf Trap program works for the 50,000 children it serves each year in 17 states. The program supports the need for children who lack access to arts education resources, especially those from low-income families, children who are English learners, and who have other challenges.
Read the full article about arts education in early childhood learning by Kimberly Hayes Taylor at Chalkbeat.
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