Arts Residencies through Preparing for Life are a big hit!

Preparing for Life, in collaboration with Dublin City Council’s Arts Office, have been delighted to facilitate two Arts Residencies in local community-based childcare settings. This innovative, and highly successful project, was the third phase of an Early Years arts initiative, which began in early 2016. The aim of the overall project was to provide quality arts experiences for children and staff from local Early Years settings and support professional artists to work with early years educators and children.
The project began with a series of artist-led performances held in Coolock Library as part of the Children’s Art in Libraries programme. You can see children and educators enjoying a variety of arts forms by viewing this video. In Early 2017, Early Years educators attended a series of professional development workshops delivered by artists. These sessions enabled educators to explore various artistic forms and approaches which they then brought back to their settings and implemented with the children to great success.

The Artist in Residenceprogramme matched two early years artists, musician Fiona Kelleher and visual artist Órla Kelly, with separate Early Years Settings to deliver arts-based experiences over a period of 6 months. These hands on sessions between artists, educator and children aimed to further embed the culture of arts within the community settings. Through 16 contact sessions in the local community settings, very young children were able to access exciting, age-appropriate quality arts experiences and Early Childhood educators were provided  with opportunities to support their professional development.

By following children’s emergent interests, wonderful work has been created including songs with lyrics written by the children; story-telling that includes visual elements and music; puppet making; and creative classroom make-overs. In addition to 16 sessions between the artists, Educators and children in the pre-school rooms, both residencies gave opportunities for the children to invite their family into the settings to take part in 3 workshops led by the artist. These have been fantastic opportunities to share arts experience, knowledge and skills with families and strengthen communication between the educators and parents.

For other community childcare settings who did not receive the Artist in Residence,the project design included professional development sessions for Early Years Educators from all 16 Community Childcare Settings in the Dublin Central North Area. These have not only allowed practitioners to network with each other and experience inspiring arts ideas but have also given educators a chance to learn from each other and share their skills and extend the impact of the arts programme. We were delighted that 42 practitioners attended over the 4 workshops.

Throughout all phases, Early Years educators were facilitated to explore and document their experiences and the children’s responses to the performances, using words and imagery, in journals, which are linked to the Aistear Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.  The staff commitment to this sometimes challenging work has been phenomenal. Educators have reported that they now feel much more confident not only delivering arts work with children but also that the process has strengthened their ability to devise child-led, emergent and inquiry based learning. Both settings have been transformed into havens of creativity and exploration.

DCC Arts Office and PFL will be producing a short video to highlight the work of the Arts Residencies which will be posted on our website and social media pages in the coming months.
PFL was delighted to successfully secure grants from the Arts Office and Dublin City Council North Central Area Local Office to fund this project, as well as support from Creative Ireland that enabled another setting to take part in Children’s Art in Libraries in autumn 2017. We would like to sincerely thank our funders and supporters.