Artful play sparks the imagination of kids at My Kinderhouse preschool

Art is a cornerstone of the early childhood education philosophy at My Kinderhouse preschool

Children 3 and 4 years old at My Kinderhouse preschool and their depiction of Van Gogh's Starry Night. CONTRIBUTED

Using art as an entry point to connect children with the world around them is a cornerstone of learning at Calgary ‘s My Kinderhouse preschool.

Whether it’s the colourful design of sculpted landforms or the use of Van Gogh’s Starry Night to spark children’s curiosity, Artful Play is a specially-designed program that teaches children by opening them up to expression of their lives through the arts.

“Aesthetic encounters, narrative play engagements, and explorations in the performingand visual arts become points of entry for young children to share their life narratives, explore and negotiate their cultural identities in relation to others, discover the world around them and steward their place therein,” says My Kinderhouse founder, Amoriza Gunnink.

The Artful Play philosophy at My Kinderhouse’s five Calgary-area locations delivers exceptional early-childhood education by immersing kids in three primary streams: Aesthetic encounters, narrative-focused play engagements and arts integration.

Aesthetic encounters are carefully planned to activate the child’s sensory/motor skills in science, culture and humanities. They help a child gain an appreciation for beauty and order and are designed to help a child express themselves through experimentation and exploration.

Whether it’s role playing, imaginary play or symbolic play, the narrative-focused play engagements help a child learn through storytelling and story-making opportunities.  

Arts integration is a specific learning approach that delivers direct instruction in skills, tools and techniques in the arts to foster the child’s ongoing artistic development, enhancing their overall learning.  

“Artfully crafted play engagements centered around storytelling, aesthetics and the arts cultivate a sense of wonder and naturally integrate, in a holistic manner, the sensory, motor, social kinesthetic and cognitive development of young children,” says Gunnink.  

The sculpted landforms that allow kids to explore visual arts while learning. CONTRIBUTED

Gunnink said that while creative outlets are often available in other early childhood education learning environments, the element often missing is the commitment to the focused development of those skills to nurture the child’s learning through the arts.

Since 2008, Gunnink has been fine-tuning and evolving this learning approach to offer the finest in arts-focused early childhood education in the Calgary area.

Gunnink’s innovative approach to create a boutique-style of learning for Calgary youth has allowed her to grow across the city to offer parents access to her award-nominated education program.

For more information and to meet team behind the artful play programs, visit mykinderhouse.org.

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