Expressive Visual Arts in the Early Years

The innumerable benefits of expressive arts for children and early childhood development include personal and social skills as well as physical and emotional wellbeing

By Tanya Millbourne, Inspire Nursery Manager

Throughout the ages of education and development of children dating as far back as the Caveman Era, expressive visual art has been an integral part of early childhood learning, education and development.

The founding father of early childhood education and what we today call Kindergartens and preschools, Friedrich Froebel held the firm belief that it was essential for young children’s personal, social and emotional wellbeing, as well as physical and artistic development, that they should partake in both their own unique expressive art projects as well as in exploring and learning about others art, including peers, teachers, families, great masters and artists.

If we look at this from a holistic and spiritual point of view, it enables us to better understand Froebel’s perspective held on this crucial component of early learning for children from birth up to six years. To Froebel and many early years psychologists, pedagogues and practitioners, our creativity is what sets us aside as humans. This artistic ability helps us in creating the wonderfully rich world and environments we live in. Visual art is all around us, not just in the form of paintings and murals, but also in the form of the buildings we live in, the roads we drive on, the cars that take us and our little ones to our destinations every day down to the very clothes we wear. Art, truly, is everywhere.


Artistic and visual arts based development enables children to conceptualize and visualize all things around them in the world and is far more than mere tool-building for them. It is this visualization that in later years which will facilitate the building and creation of the world we live in. This demonstrates that arts education is not merely required in an academic capacity but also as a means for children to understand that they possess their own creativity.

The philosophy and insights into early years expressive arts development and art activities from Froebel lets us, as educators, parents and pedagogues, discover new talents within the children in our care. With exceptional expressive art talents and abilities we also enable and encourage each and every young child to grow, flourish and develop their own “full and all-sided development” (Froebel, 1826).


Nearly two hundred years later, we still find ourselves as early years practitioners and parents using Froebel’s unique thoughts, insights and methodologies pertaining to his “all sided” ideology and basing our fundamental educational ideas on them.

All too often in the tech-driven environment of today’s modern world, the importance of art in young children’s lives, learning and development is being overlooked and lost.


At Inspire Children’s Nursery, our early years Creative Curriculum exposes little ones to a multitude of visual and expressive arts-based activities. These help develop fine manipulative motor skills and knowledge of expressive arts and also aid in the development of young children’s cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing, which takes into account developmentally appropriate arts-based learning.


Creating, appreciating and enjoying art from other people and cultures is, as Froebel said, an important part of early years development aiding the advancement and development of the whole unique child, whilst being lots of fun.

So next weekend, instead of heading down to the mall or a local play center in Dubai – pick up some brushes, grab some paints with your children and let your creative inner child out!

“A creative adult is a child who survived!”

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