Giving preschool students, teachers a boost through art

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BENNINGTON — An old tire, clouds, shoe-clad feet, a tree bark, plastic toys, old buildings, children playing. These were among the photographs about 85 preschool children took as part of an art project at the Bennington County Head Start.

The North Bennington students, 3- to 5-year-olds who live throughout the county, were each lent a digital camera to record their world. They undertook the project within a three-week period in April and May.

"Students exposed to the arts have a more enriching educational experience and tend to develop a better, overall comprehension of subject materials that they may have struggled with in the past," said Heather Bullock, coordinator of the art program that Head Start runs in collaboration with the Vermont Arts Exchange nonprofit organization.

"These experiences significantly enhance their foundation for future learning," Bullock said.

The annual program, which runs from 10 to 15 weeks since 2014, aims also to help Head Start teachers learn art skills in a variety of media, which they can then incorporate into their classes. The artist trainers come from the Vermont Arts Exchange.

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This year, the students learned also about clay, mosaic, mixed media, as well as music, dance, theater and literature, Bullock said.

Their photographs were publicly exhibited at Willow Park in Bennington on June 18.

The VAE/Head Start Arts Partnership program is funded by the Vermont Arts Council, with matching funds from the Bennington County Head Start. This year's $11,000 grant was used to pay trainers and buy the art materials. A similar program is also offered at the Rutland County Head Start.

At the end of the program, the children get to take their work home. Some of the art works are exhibited at the Head Start classrooms and hallways.

Tiffany Tan can be reached at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan on Twitter and 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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