Kids at the Young At Art preschool in Davie can identify Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers and the New York-inspired paintings of Romare Bearden.
These preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, spend an hour a day at the Young at Art museum when it’s closed to the public, and they are able to display their artwork during special exhibitions.
But that’s not all. The children also learn about science, technology and math by studying galaxies, volcanoes and the flow of water.
“It’s everything you’d find in a normal classroom — math, science, reading, all of your academic subjects, but accessed through the arts,” said preschool director Lisa Feeney. “Art is how most young children learn. It’s natural to them.”
The preschool, which opened in October, follows Florida early learning standards. Currently, there are about 10 kids in a multi-age group with two certified preschool teachers who are also practicing artists.
The Broward County library, located at the museum, is also available for the preschoolers. They have library cards and are allowed to check out two books at a time. The combination of the museum and the library has guided the preschool into an art- and literacy-based curriculum.
“I like this preschool because they have books,” said 4-year old Ethan Bernard.
Every month, the teacher highlights a different artist and relates it to other subjects. This month the classroom is decorated with handmade buildings representing New York because they are looking at the art of Romare Bearden. They are studying the letter “R” for the artist’s first name and are allowed to check out any books related to the letter, the artist and his work.
“It’s not just a school of learning how to do things with art,” said parent Sonia Thomas. “My son gets upset when they don’t have school. He comes home talking about quicksand, bugs, cumulus clouds and the experiments he does in school.”
The school has also found a way to highlight the children’s’ unique talents by providing individual art kits, in which they can choose what materials to use.
“I’ve always wanted something art based, I fell in love with the program because art is a basis for a lot of things in the future,” said parent Karen Hurst. “It helps out with math, English and all your other learning. I’ve seen my daughter completely develop, and she is completely happy.”
The preschool has a capacity of 22 students and hopes to expand in the upcoming years. But their biggest priority is taking advantage of the museum facility.
“The children get to experience an art museum every day,” Feeney said.