Scheme puts artists in pre-schools to nurture creativity

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and pre-schoolers of PCF Sparkletots Pasir Ris West taking part in a visual arts class supported by the artist-in-schools scheme. About 120 children from five pre-schools have been enjoying vari
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and pre-schoolers of PCF Sparkletots Pasir Ris West taking part in a visual arts class supported by the artist-in-schools scheme. About 120 children from five pre-schools have been enjoying various art forms.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Pre-schoolers can attend quality lessons conducted by expert arts practitioners, as part of a pilot scheme to develop children's creativity through the arts.

More than 300 children from up to 10 pre-schools will take part in the two-year Artist-in-School Scheme for Pre-Schools.

The National Arts Council (NAC) announced on Tuesday that $70,000 has been set aside for the scheme, which was started in partnership with the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in March.

Each pre-school can receive a subsidy of up to 70 per cent of programme costs, including teaching fees of the practitioners, and material costs, or up to $7,000 per project, which- ever is lower.

The NAC has similar schemes for primary and secondary schools and pre-tertiary institutions, but this is the first time pre-schools are included.

About 120 children from five pre-schools have been enjoying art forms such as dance, music, theatre and ceramics.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong visited a participating centre, PCF Sparkletots Pasir Ris West, on Tuesday, where 21 Nursery 2 children have been learning basic clay modelling from artist Hazel Wong of Ceramique Studio since April.

Ms Wong, who will teach at Sparkletots till August, said the project would usually cost $7,000 without subsidies.

Speaking to reporters after watching a ceramics lesson, Mr Wong said: "Quality arts programmes ought to be an integral part of early childhood education, not just a good-to- have...The benefits are well- documented and well-researched."

The arts can help children to express themselves, develop a sense of curiosity about the world around them, and promote motor skills development, he said.

The NAC director of arts and youth, Mr Kenneth Kwok, added: "We all have fond memories of our first experiences with a piece of crayon or a favourite piece of music, and we believe that these are some of the best ways to nurture creativity."

Under the scheme, arts practitioners also train pre-school teachers on integrating the arts into their lessons.

Senior teacher Pauline Neo has introduced ceramics in her Kindergarten 1 class.

"They make clay models of the characters in the story, and the story becomes more real for them," she said.

Four-year-old Lim Wei Xi, who learnt clay modelling from Ms Wong, said: "I used clay to make a gibbon, and liked making its long arms."

Pre-schools interested in the scheme can contact the ECDA.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg