Our December Soar in 4 Art Night at the South Florida was the debut of our early learning families from Ballard, Rogers Garden Bullock and Sea Breeze Elementary Schools consolidating. Outback provided the dinner for our families and they dined in the beautiful courtyard while they reviewed and answered 7 Dinner Questions to get little ones laughing and talking. Our families learned that family dinner time is the single most important factor in the development of a child’s vocabulary (Harvard Research, 1996). During dinner our friends Norm and Cassandra, from our own United Way Suncoast Manatee, helped families to download Footsteps2Brilliance. This bilingual mobile app provides interactive books, songs, and games that can be read in either English or Spanish and will provide families with learning opportunities wherever they are.
After dinner our families were welcomed in the Planetarium. Ms. Margie Genter, with Goodwill Industries, connected families with financial resources to purchase their first home and job connection opportunities. A new episode of Ms. Luanne’s Front Porch highlighted how art appreciation helps young children learn to think and express ideas. Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches children how to interpret, criticize, use visual information, and how to make choices based on it. Fostering creativity helps children to develop mentally, socially and emotionally. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which will extend well beyond the art room.
Master Storyteller Mary Kelly, from the Association of Teaching Artists performed an interactive version of the Gingerbread Man. Families then rotated through 3 centers; Family Game Time, Song Time and Telling a Story. And Santa even had time for a surprise visit and had photographs taken with each family.
Each family left with a holiday book compliments of our Early Learning Coalition. Family homework for the month details how families can continue to help their child understand and appreciate art. Learning in very young children takes place through play, the active exploration of their environment, trial and error and most importantly through interactions with the significant adults in their lives. When we give them freedom to discover, they are learning to create and experiment in new and innovative ways.