Art is essential in the environment of the child from birth onwards. It is a way of approaching life, of moving and speaking, of decorating a home or school. It cannot be separated from other elements of life.
Here's an overview of the Montessori art curriculum.
Creative Arts Curriculum
The Montessori curriculum and current child development research emphasises the PROCESS of creating art versus the PRODUCT. This means that children should be encouraged to explore and experiment with a variety of art mediums without being made to feel that they should complete a specific project that looks a certain way.
The Montessori curriculum overlays extremely well with the NSW Board of Studies Visual Arts Syllabus however the difference lies in how art is presented in the classrooms. Most of the artistic activities are done through arts integration; combining art with subjects of study in order to learn the material.
In our classrooms art materials are kept in an art area and the children have access to it at all times. In a more mainstream setting, art materials may be out only at certain times and/or their use may be more directed by the adults than by the children themselves. This applies to pre-primary and primary school.
Pre Primary : Cycle 1 (3-6 years)
Just as with any other activity in the 3-6 class, each art activity is kept complete and ready for use. There is a variety of art materials available to them at all times. The teacher will carefully present to the child how the material is used, for example clay, then whenever the child is inspired, they can begin an artistic creation. Art appreciation and history is also introduced at this young stage. Reproductions of great masterpieces inspire an appreciation of beauty at any age. There are pictures of great works as prints, cards, or in books at the child's eye level and the teacher may invite a group of children to discuss or draw what they observe in a work such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
Primary years : Cycle 2-3 (6-12 years)
Creative artwork bridges many subject areas in primary school. When a child learns by combining academics and the arts the whole understanding of life—and development of the brain—makes a giant leap. Students frequently do projects generated from topics of interest. They research, gather information and create various forms of artwork to support their learning. They would then normally present their project to the class group. The artwork perfectly unites the action of the mind (knowledge) and work of the hand (or body). There are no limits to avenues of creativity.
Study of different art media & elements
In delivering the curriculum, the teachers present lessons to the children on the elements of art (line, colour, shape, texture), the principles of art (proportion, balance, scale etc) and the different media that can be used, including audio and video. In recent years, several of the graduating student have chosen to do their major projects using these modern technologies with great effect and skill.
Supporting the study of art elements is the appreciation of art history, modern art and great masterpieces. Examples of various work are used to compare, contrast and observe what may be evident or felt by looking at the art work. Great discussion usually takes place and inspires the children to experiment with their own work. Regular visits to art galleries or other creative arts events are a great addition to the curriculum.