The power of arts-based research methods in early years

Despite a growing culture of ‘listening to children’, opportunities for young children to be meaningfully involved in developing the services and policies that affect them remain limited. Researchers from Strathclyde University have been exploring whether the arts can help ensure our youngest citizens have a voice.

Space for Imagination

It’s not unusual for people to associate ‘drama’ with performance, but with very young children the focus is on creating opportunities for exploration and imaginative play, says artist and theatre maker Heather Fulton.  

A World of Play and Make Believe

Connections between children and puppets can be extremely powerful, says Simon Hart, Artistic Director of Puppet Animation Scotland. They provide a supportive context within which a child can safely explore their own agency and self-awareness. 

Rhythm is innate

Nurture children’s innate rhythm through music during their earliest years, says musician and educator Fraser Stone. It’s an opportunity for them to stamp their beauty on the world.  

Moving matters

Creative movement provides wonderful opportunities for young children to make independent choices and express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Touch and movement are our earliest senses and provide learning experiences which have a huge influence on development and wellbeing, says Skye Reynolds, dance and creative movement artist.

Mark Making

Mark-making provides wonderful opportunities for very young children to express themselves in ways that are meaningful to them. It’s often only a fear of getting it wrong, which is learned over time, that hinders creative expression says visual artist and Starcatchers Creative Skills trainer Pearl Kinnear.     I like to think of mark-making by babies and very young children… Read more »

Top tips for storytelling – from a master storyteller

Telling a story rather than reading from a book is a wonderful way to connect with children and provides fantastic opportunities for children to shape the narrative themselves. Andy  Cannon has been telling stories professionally for over 20 years on stage and in nurseries and schools. He believes we’re all story tellers – here are his Top Storytelling Tips!

Reading stories together: bring words on the page to life

Reading stories together and bringing the words on a page to life provides wonderful opportunities for babies and very young children make independent choices and express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. By responding positively and sensitively to these cues we’re showing children that they are valued and respected – that they have a voice, says Lindsay Quayle, Scottish Book Trust. 

Imagining Together

Through arts and creative experiences, babies and young children develop a sense of their own agency and learn about their rights. As part of our campaign Making My Mark, Starcatchers’ board member Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson reflects on the importance of ensuring children can experience theatre from the earliest possible age – not because it will help them when they are older, but because they are audiences now with their own imaginations, ideas, knowledge and able to enjoy art as much as adults do.

‘Every day we see our children are innately creative’

    Katie Robertson, Owner and Manager of The Nurture Nursery, Bathgate, took part in Starcatchers’ Creative Skills training in Glasgow 2019. As part of our Making My Mark campaign, she describes her setting’s approach to ensuring the children have as many opportunities as possible to develop agency through the expressive arts and creative experiences.  … Read more »