Within the Reggio Emilia educational approach, a child is considered a competent, capable and natural researcher who wants to learn and explore. Toddlers are especially curious, and learn about their world at a rapid pace. Because early exploration of the visual arts offers children endless possibilities, many Reggio Emilia schools offer an Atelier, or art studio, for children to use.
In a Reggio Emilia Atelier, toddler-friendly materials such as clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves and wood, among others, are available for children to explore as they see fit.
Examples of art education for toddlers
- Creating small sculptures from toddler-friendly clay
- Mixing different colors together and experimenting with creating colors
- Gluing items such as pom-poms, leaves, and colored tissue paper to create a mosaic collage
- Drawing with sidewalk chalk
- Cutting shapes from construction paper with safety scissors
- Painting with sponges
- Using child-friendly paint to create images using a potato stamp carved by an adult
- Tracing simple shapes such as the bottom of a paper cup
- Drawing a re-creation of an object they can see, such as a flower or a toy
4 benefits of art education for toddlers
- Development of fine motor skills. Young children learn best from hands-on experiences, and a wide variety of art materials allow toddlers to have a full sensory experience. This helps toddlers develop fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination and eye tracking. These skills are the building blocks of reading, writing, and adding columns of numbers.
- Development of problem-solving and cause and effect. Hands-on art education also helps toddlers develop their problem-solving skills. For example, if your toddler is trying to create a painting of their teddy bear, they may experiment with different colors or even investigate other materials that can be used to enhance their painting. They can experience cause and effect in a safe, positive environment.
- Development of language and social skills. Early education in art can also strengthen language and social skills. By working together with teachers and peers, a toddler will discuss colors, shapes, patterns, sizes, and actions. They can practice expressing themselves and build a vocabulary that also has applications in literacy and early math concepts. By collaborating with their friends, they can learn how to regulate emotions, accept other points of view, and have fun creating something with others.
- Development of confidence. Creativity builds confidence in toddlers. By successfully creating something they have envisioned, and by working with others to create an idea, a toddler builds confidence. They learn to listen to their own creativity, and explore their own ideas and identity through this process.
Art education for toddlers, such as through an Atelier in a Reggio Emilia school, encourages experimentation, intuition and spontaneous creativity. Early art education has many benefits for toddlers, both now and throughout their lives.