Kaleidoscope: Profile of an arts-based early childhood program. Final Report
Collins, R. C., Colker, L. J., & Copple, C. E. (1994). Kaleidoscope: Profile of an arts-based early childhood program. Final Report. Vienna, VA: Collins Management Consulting, Inc.
Researchers conducted an outside program evaluation on Kaleidoscope, an arts-integrated early childhood program that combines visual arts, music, dance and language arts with other subjects. Kaleidoscope’s program objectives include: providing children and families with quality education; creating and implementing arts-integrated curricula; and to research the impact of arts-integrated curricula on cognitive, academic and social development on low-income inner-city students. The findings indicated that Kaleidoscope provides a high-quality, developmentally appropriate program. The children in the program improved more on two tests of cognitive and language functioning over a two-year period when compared to the children in the control group. Although there was still room for improvement, the study results indicated that the Kaleidoscope model held considerable promise for replication. Recommendations on how to improve the program were also provided by the researchers.
Overall, the Kaleidoscope program is well conceived and developmentally appropriate. Over a two-year period, children in the Kaleidoscope program improved more on the two tests of cognitive and language functioning, compared to the children enrolled at a nearby day care center (comparison group). Kaleidoscope appeared to reverse the typical pattern of low-income children showing declining scores on standardized tests of intellectual functioning over time. Children who participated in the Kaleidoscope program showed markedly higher levels of socio-dramatic play, compared to the children in the control group. Children in the Kaleidoscope program seemed to play more interactively, developed more effectively sustained make-believe situations, used more language, elaborated their play to a greater extent, and engaged in social and practical problem solving. The majority of the parents whose child was in Kaleidoscope praised the program. Parents indicated that their children were well cared for during the day, were receiving a quality preschool education experience, and were being exposed to the arts at an early age.
It was recommended that the physical environment of Kaleidoscope be upgraded and that further steps should be taken to continue to integrate the arts with other early childhood curriculum components including improving the depth of training and involvement of artist-teachers. More steps can be taken to improve parent involvement as well.