skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map

Start with the Arts FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

End of VSA and Accessibility navigation.
Image of starts with the arts book

General Questions

  1. What is Start with the Arts?
  2. What are its objectives?
  3. How does it support the National Education Goals?
  4. How does Start with the Arts fit into the curriculum I am already doing?
  5. How was Start with the Arts created?
  6. Who do I contact in my area about Start with the Arts?
  7. Where can I go to a training or workshop on Start with the Arts?

1. What is Start with the Arts?

Start with the Arts is an instructional resource from VSA that enables teachers and parents to create meaningful learning experiences for young children utilizing all of the arts -- visual arts, creative movement, creative drama, and music. Designed to be implemented in inclusionary settings, Start with the Arts assists young children, with and without disabilities, in exploring through the arts thematic topics commonly taught in early childhood programs. Start with the Arts capitalizes on the inherently motivating nature of the arts to engage young children in exploring, creating meaning, and expressing their ideas about topics under study.

to top

2. What are its objectives?

By using Start with the Arts, teachers can achieve the following objectives:

  • encourage the use of the arts and creative play as an important learning strategy for young children;
  • promote the utilization of developmentally appropriate arts experiences for all children, including those with special learning needs;
  • provide early childhood educators with strategies and activities for integrating children with special needs into mainstreamed learning situations utilizing the arts.

to top

3. How does it support the National Education Goals?

Start with the Arts supports three critical goals of the US Department of Education's National Education Goals--school readiness, teacher training, and parent involvement.

to top

4. How does Start with the Arts fit into the curriculum I am already doing?

One important feature of Start with the Arts is the ease with which it can be infused into activities typically found in early childhood programs to supplement on-going instruction. This is accomplished by basing the program's 64 arts experiences on five themes frequently used by early childhood educators in their classrooms.

to top

5. How was Start with the Arts created?

In the Spring 1991, a new early childhood program was announced by VSA arts-- Start with the Arts-- designed to respond to the greater priority being placed on early childhood education nationwide and the passing of PL 99-457 authorizing increased state spending to provide services to children with disabilities between the ages of three and five.

The instructional materials were designed and written by representatives in early childhood, art education and special education fields, then rigorously tested across the country during the years 1992-1994. The materials feature teacher resources and lesson plans based on five curricular themes that allow educators and parents to utilize all the arts--visual arts, creative movement, creative drama, music--to offer young children meaningful learning experiences in integrated settings. Added values include a literacy component and informative parent letters.

Model Cities were established in 1994 that enabled VSA arts to develop a comprehensive dissemination plan, train early childhood educators and promote parent-child learning interactions in Arkansas, Ohio, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. October 1995 marked the first National Training Institute in Orlando, Florida attended by over 100 educators from 17 VSA arts affiliate organizations and introduced the "train-the-trainer" model that set the standard for VSA arts regional affiliates to conduct training through a competitive proposal funding process. In 1997, VSA arts North Carolina and VSA arts New Mexico were awarded funds to host regional training, with VSA arts Washington and VSA arts New Hampshire as hosts in 1998. Fifteen VSA arts affiliates support successful, on-going programs through festivals, teacher training, and in educational settings.

The first national program evaluation was completed in June 1997, following which in 1998, a steering committee formed representing affiliates, trainers, program coordinators, and members of yearly childhood, arts and disability organizations with the charge of moving forward on the recommendations of the evaluation.

The latest exciting chapter is the development of a CD-ROM to further extend and complement the hands-on experiences offered in the Start with the Arts print materials. The software is based on principles of universal design; each function and action is designed to be accessible to the broadest range of users. This software is an integrated package of four art spaces were young children, including those with disabilities create music, collages, short plays, and dance sequences--experimenting with the fundamental elements of the art forms--sound, color, composition, story telling, character action, and body movement.

to top

6. Who do I contact in my area about Start with the Arts?

Contact your VSA state affiliate office for information.

to top

7. Where can I go to a training or workshop on Start with the Arts?

Contact your VSA state affiliate office for information on local training. Many states offer workshops and seminars. VSA Headquarters also supports Regional Institutes. Following the National Train the Trainer Institute in 1995, VSA has supported Start with the Arts Regional Institutes, hosted by affiliate organizations, in North Carolina, New Mexico, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia. Over 300 participants have been trained thus far! This year, VSA Washington is planning an August 12-13, 1999 Institute in Seattle and VSA New Mexico has selected September 16-18, 1999 for their Institute in Las Cruces.

to top