The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Kean University an Art Works! Grant to support Educating the Creative Mind, a professional development program designed to improve arts-based curricula for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. Educating the Creative Mind helps teachers develop the knowledge and skills needed to provide instruction utilizing an arts-based interdisciplinary curriculum. Dr. Lily Chen-Hafteck, Associate Professor of Music at Kean University, is the creator and director of the project. The NEA grant will support the program’s ongoing professional development and outreach initiatives.
Brain research has demonstrated the significance of early neourplasticity to learning and development. Children who are deprived of the particular forms of cognitive stimulation provided through music and dance during their formative years suffer long-term adverse consequences. Early exposure to the arts can be the start of a lifelong love. Moreover, it has been found that meaningful engagement in the arts yields numerous benefits for student learning in other subject areas.
Unfortunately, many pre-school teachers are not confident with arts based curricula. The pre-school years provide a unique opportunity to stimulate young minds at their most malleable stage of development. Dr. Chen-Hafteck explains that teachers do not need to be performing artists to impart their enthusiasm and to create environments for children to explore, enjoy and participate in the arts.
The program’s first major presentation, Music, Arts and the Interdisciplinary Curriculum Institute, will be held at Kean University on Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15, 2012.