The arts represent the primal human need for communication beyond just words. Our earliest human societies valued music, dance, painting and theatre for this very reason: sometimes non-verbal modes of communication provide a more nuanced, enriched route to representing and sharing our thoughts and feelings.
For early learners, the arts can provide a deeply meaningful medium for expressing themselves on paper (as they literally don’t yet have the words!). The powerful feeling experienced by a young child on using artwork to communicate meaning provides deep motivation for the more abstract art that soon follows: that of writing.
To provide an opportunity for this to happen, Montessori educators integrate the arts throughout the classroom, both formally (through materials such as the Metal Insets) and in a more unstructured manner (an attractive set of crayons and paper, with no expectations on end product).
Sometimes, the latter is especially powerful, as in the case pictured here -- a 3 year old excitedly talks us through her drawing, telling us that this is a picture of “the sun and the sea”. For a child who cannot yet write, what a wonderful way to express meaning!