Artful Living is an educational program designed to improve the academics and creativity of students by immersing them in the fine arts during preschool. The library’s Children’s Department is a partner in the Artful Living Program, which currently takes place in the public preschool at Franklin Elementary. We provide the literature component. The Massillon Museum oversees the program and provides instruction in visual arts, while the Canton Symphony provides the musical component, and the Ananda Center dance and creative movement.
Massillon Public Library Children’s Programming Specialist Diane Brant is the instructor for our literature sessions. She performs creative readings and the telling of stories by quality authors and illustrators using puppets and other visual aids, involves the students in audience-participation stories, and leads them in fun, relevant rhymes and songs, all in line with state curriculum standards.
The evening Family sessions occur each spring and meet at locations such as the Salvation Army’s new facility or the Boys & Girls Club. Each of these evenings includes a meal, kids’ games and activities, and parents’ educational sessions such as a presentation on early literacy tips and techniques by the library’s Children’s Department.
We think it’s so important to get children excited about reading, the arts, and school. Recent Artful Living research by the Stark County Educational Services Center and Malone University proves the program is positively impacting the children. Artful Living is innovative and cutting-edge, and has been recognized and awarded grants for these things by foundations like the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation (4 grants), PNC Foundation
(3 grants) and the Aultman Foundation (2 grants).
The final report on the pre-test/post-test research conducted during the 2012-13 school year shows significant improvement in most areas tested for the experimental group (Massillon preschoolers) receiving the arts lessons from The Artful Living Program, over the control group (preschoolers from another Stark County school district) not receiving the Program. The testing was performed using nationally recognized and accepted early childhood assessment tools: the Young Children's Achievement Test (YCAT), and the Teaching Creativity in Action and Movement (TCAM).
What does all that mean? It means the work The Artful Living Program is doing is making a positive difference in the lives of the children and we can prove it.
As Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." The Artful Living Program is giving the spark.