NAC’s Pilot Artist-In-School Scheme for Pre-Schools Sparks Early Learners’ Interest in the Arts


New arts education programmes and teacher-training workshops support holistic development of young children


Singapore, 24 June 2014 – Children in pre-schools can look forward to an enhanced arts learning experience through lessons specially designed by arts practitioners, with the Artist-In-School Scheme (AISS) for Pre-Schools. This pilot initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC), in partnership with the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), enables pre-schoolers to gain access to quality and sustained arts programmes.


Through interactive lessons, children will broaden their learning perspectives through spontaneous exploration and expression. These lessons include learning about plants and animals through moulding clay figurines, discovering physical movement through dance, and stretching the imagination through creating collages inspired by story books. Over 300 children in up to 10 pre-schools will be participating in the two-year pilot AISS for Pre-Schools.  In addition, early childhood educators can also receive specialised training workshops by arts practitioners, as part of this programme.


Introduced in March this year, the AISS for Pre-Schools is part of NAC’s Pre-Tertiary Education Master Plan for Arts & Culture. The multi-pronged suite of arts education initiatives for the pre-school sector follows the recommendation of the Arts & Culture Strategic Review by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to widen arts exposure for children at all levels as part of core curriculum, co-curricular activities and/or enrichment programmes. Up to $200,000 has been committed to develop these pre-school initiatives over the next two years. (Refer to Annex A for other pre-school initiatives supported by NAC)


Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong says, “We want our young children to enjoy all the benefits of learning in and through the arts. The pilot Artist-In-School Scheme (AISS) for Pre-Schools will develop children’s creative potential by immersing them in the rich and vibrant world of the arts. These authentic learning opportunities will further ignite their sense of wonder and discovery, and help them to develop confidence in expressing themselves. We also hope that these early interactions will nurture a lifelong interest in the arts.” 


Under the AISS for Pre-Schools, each school can receive a grant that subsidises up to 70% of programme costs. These costs cover teaching fees of arts practitioners, including fees for teacher training, and materials costs. (Refer to Annex B on application details for the pilot AISS for Pre-Schools)


Developed with reference to the Ministry of Education’s “Nurturing Early Learners: A Curriculum Framework for Kindergartens in Singapore”, these programmes seek to nurture positive attitudes and behaviours towards learning such as perseverance, reflectiveness and engagement, as well as meet the learning goals in aesthetics and creative expression.


Co-Development of Arts-Based Lesson by Arts Specialists and Pre-Schools 

A core component under the AISS for Pre-Schools is the matching of arts practitioners with pre-schools to co-develop and co-teach arts-based lessons. These lessons are customised to the schools’ needs and can subsequently be integrated into the schools’ curriculum. Through fun and engaging art-making activities, students develop their motor skills, abilities in creative expression and competencies for life such as communication and socialisation through art, drama, music and movement.


Mr Kenneth Kwok, Director of Arts & Youth, NAC, says, “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, as children are naturally drawn to visuals, rhythms and movements. We value the importance of arts education, and with teachers and professional artists working together, the classroom becomes an even more positive and fun learning environment that children will love to be in.”


Teacher Training by Arts Practitioners

Another key aspect of the AISS for Pre-Schools is the training of teachers by arts practitioners. Through hands-on workshops, teachers are equipped with new knowledge and skills to integrate the arts into their lessons and complement their pedagogical knowledge. Artists can play a consultative role and provide feedback to strengthen teachers’ abilities to deliver impactful programmes.


Dr Chan Lin Ho, Director of Professional Development, ECDA, says, “The provision of quality arts experiences encourages children to be expressive, creative and imaginative.  This partnership with NAC will equip early childhood educators with the content and pedagogical skills to build a deeper love for learning and encourage a deeper appreciation of the arts in our children.  We will continue to partner NAC, artists and the early childhood sector to enhance classroom practices and engage children in their learning.”


Programmes Offered by Pre-Schools in the Pilot Scheme

Five pre-schools – Child@Street11, NTUC My First Skool Yung An, Salvation Army Child Care (Bukit Panjang), Soka Kindergarten and PCF Sparkletots Pasir Ris West – are involved in the pilot phase of AISS for Pre-Schools. The art forms covered in AISS for Pre-Schools range from Dance (Creative Movement), Music, Theatre (Puppetry) to Visual Arts. (Refer to Annex C for programme details of participating schools)


One school in the programme is PCF Sparkletots Pasir Ris West, which conducts visual arts lessons for its Nursery 2 children. The school partnered artist-educator Hazel Wong from Ceramique Studio to teach students basic clay modelling techniques. Through exploring properties of clay and experimenting with its soft and responsive sensory qualities, children
can develop their fine motor and problem solving skills, as well as encourage creativity, self-expression and confidence.  

Ms Wong says, “Compared to my classes at Goodman Ceramic Studio, the children at PCF come from a wider social and economic background; some children are verbally expressive, while others take a longer time to warm up to the artists. However, with the enthusiastic support from the school, I gradually saw a transformation of the children’s ability and capacity for visual and verbal expression. One of the unexpected rewards of working with children is that it has been inspirational for me to see the quieter ones express their sense of curiosity and wonderment through art.”