IS THERE A NEED FOR HANDICRAFT IN PRESCHOOL? ATTITUDES OF PRESCHOOL TEACHERS AND PARENTS ON INCLUDING HANDICRAFT ACTIVITIES IN THE REGULAR PRESCHOOL PROGRAM

M. Zupanic Benic, I. Jambresic

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
Alternative educational concepts evolved in response to classical educational methods in which children are placed in a passive position and the transfer of knowledge is cultivated as a form of teaching. Models of alternative pedagogy (Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio, Agazzi) advocate developmentally appropriate practices which Bredekamp (1993) describes as a presence of different strategies, i.e., child-oriented behaviours of teachers and responding to the child's individual needs. In order to help each child to grow into a universal and competent individual from preschool age, it is necessary to encourage their imagination and creativity, as well as to acquire habits of cooperation and coexistence with other children. One of the activities which promote these desirable characteristics in children is handicraft. Many studies and findings in the area of neuroscience, multiple intelligences theories, and the aforementioned alternative pedagogical concepts emphasize the importance of handicraft and point out its benefits not only for children but for the entire community. However, such an approach to children's learning and activity is poorly represented in educational institutions.

Therefore, the aim of the study was to examine the views of preschool teachers and parents on handicraft activities and its more frequent use in regular preschool programs. The survey was conducted by an anonymous questionnaire on a sample of 316 respondents, preschool teachers (N=141) and parents (N=175). The results of the study show that both preschool teachers and parents agree that certain elements of alternative concepts such as handicraft have a positive impact on the overall development of the child and that they are useful and practical life skills. They also agree that handicraft activities should be used in educational institutions to a greater extent.