The role of the art of living in early childhood education

Christoph Teschers


The notions of well-being and happiness are widely used today in a range of disciplines, areas of research, educational practice and daily life. However, these terms have to be considered critically, and careful reflection on their meaning is needed in each context where they are used (Soutter, Gilmore & O’Steen 2011). One reflection in the context of education has been conducted in relation to positive psychology as well as philosophical concepts and questions such as how to live a good life, the art of living and especially Schmid’s (2000) concept of Lebenskunst or ‘art of living’ (Teschers 2013). Still, the research undertaken to connect these concepts with the area of early childhood education in particular has been rather limited. The current paper is one step to bridge this gap by exploring how the concept of the art of living relates to early childhood education and the notion of well-being as it is used in the New Zealand early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education 1996). It is proposed that early childhood educators can support the development of children’s abilities to enable them to engage actively in shaping their own lives and developing their own art of living earlier rather than later in their lives. Further, suggestions are made for teaching practice about ways early childhood educators can support young children to become reflective, autonomous and knowledgeable human beings, who are able to take responsibility for their own lives. 

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