Children’s Aesthetic Awareness

April 5, 2012

Learning is its own exceeding great reward.
-William Hazlitt

In her article in the March/April 2012 issue of Exchange, “The Intangibles in the Early Childhood Classroom,” Carol B. Hillman (author of the Exchange book, Teaching Four Year Olds) offers this advice on developing children’s aesthetic awareness:

“Developing children’s aesthetic awareness starts with the teacher’s choices about how the classroom is set up: the materials presented to the children, and the manner in which they are displayed.  It is seeing that the paints are fresh each day and maintaining a sense of order by creating a separate space for each object.  It is arranging and rearranging wall displays throughout the year and making the mainstay the work of the young artists in your classroom. Creating an aesthetic se nse also has to do with simplicity: knowing that clutter is counter-productive.  Blank spaces on the walls allow the eye to rest and the body to relax.

“An aesthetic sense can also be heightened by having live plants and flowers growing in your classroom to look at and wonder about each day.  These lend beauty, color, and fragrance in subtle but satisfying ways.   Keeping an aesthetic sense alive calls for a great deal of thought and planning that is woven into the very fabric of who you are, how you think, and how you choose your actions.  It is like an artist who mixes the colors from her palette, overlaying the colors, one atop another until the blending creates just the right shade of color she sought.”