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UNCP professor uses Summer Research Fellowship to support arts programming for youth

August 31, 2017

“Mornings at the Museum participants use 'I-spies’ to explore the Reynolda House’s collection.” With the support of a Summer Research Fellowship sponsored by the UNC Pembroke’s Teaching and Learning Center, Naomi Lifschitz-Grant, an assistant professor of Art Education, explored how art museums can welcome and inspire younger visitors.

“Traditionally, young audiences (birth to five years old) have not been included in museum education programs,” Lifschitz-Grant said. “Academic research resoundingly supports the value of arts exposure and education during the early childhood years.”

Her article, “Mornings at the Museum: A Family Friendly Early Childhood Program,” describes two pilot sessions of Mornings at the Museum at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem. Based on children’s hands-on activities and her surveys, focus groups, and observations, Lifschitz-Grant outlines best practices for effective, enriching arts programming that welcomes and engages young children in art museums like Reynolda House. 

What’s more, she discovered that it’s not enough to engage just the young children; it’s crucial to involve parents and caregivers not as passive observers but active participants.

“Focusing on the family as learners also promoted conversations and collaborations among the adults and children … acknowledging their valuable role as primary teacher,” Lifschitz-Grant said.

“Because of the success of this program, Reynolda House can use the program and the evaluation process as an anchor and guide to developing other programs for young children and their caregivers, especially those from low-income and diverse backgrounds.”

Established in 1996, the Teaching and Learning Center at UNCP promotes the

teaching excellence for which UNCP is known by generating the ideas, activities, and enthusiasm that foster quality teaching and learning, a mission overseen and executed by the Task Force on Teaching Excellence, an advisory board composed of award-winning faculty. As a unit within the UNCP Office of Academic Affairs, the TLC offers comprehensive, purpose-driven, and seamless support for excellence in teaching and learning at UNCP.