Art’s crucial role in child development
April 23, 2015
It’s the process, not the product
Watching a child being immersed in the artistic process is pure joy. Give your little one even the most basic art supplies, and you will witness them unleash emotions of happiness: focused, determined, somewhat unsure, your child will ignore any conventional rules and dispose of the materials in ways that you never though it was possible, taking enormous satisfaction in the result. It may not be the next Picasso, however your child has experienced the meaning of art itself: the learning process.
Learning about life skills through art
In those moments, like any other parent, you know instinctively that art is good for your child. Therefore, there isn’t a household that is not equipped with at least a couple of crayons and some pieces of paper on which children can scribble as they please. But what seems as a mere form of play has a more profound impact on a child’s development than you might think.
Art teaches children to make decisions and solve problems
Children may not use art materials the way adults direct them to, but that is only because they are trying to solve the “problem” in their own way. “Why did these colors make orange instead of brown?” , “How should I attach the buttons?”, “Why isn’t this sticking to the paper?” etc. Such quests are stimulating their creative thinking, encouraging them to come up with their own solutions, rather than to follow a specific set of rules. In an environment so creatively demanding as the modern world, by asking questions like “how” and “why”, children learn how to be inventive, to search for answers in their own way and ultimately, to think forward.
Art develops children’s motor skills
The use of art supplies, such as paintbrushes and easels, crayons and pencils, scissors and many more develop children’s control over large and small muscle groups, and eye-hand coordination. While painting at the easel with a brush, your child exercises large movements, his strength and coordination. When cutting with a pair of scissors, modeling clay, squeezing glue, drawing or painting in detail, your child develops precision and dexterity, all important tools for learning how to write and making art.
Sharing is caring
Art is most of the times a collaborative effort. Children learn how to share responsibilities, supplies, how to take turns and work collectively. At the same time, every child realises that, although immersed in a group art process, their efforts, ideas, means of expression are unique, therefore coming to terms with who they are and appreciating themselves as an individual. Working in a group, children learn how to give praise and constructive criticism, but also how to accept these, working towards building self-esteem and socialising skills.
Children communicate through art
Your child will start articulating feelings, emotions and their needs though verbal language at a later stage, but before this, he is already expressing himself through an artistic process. Whenever your child draws, paints or combines different art materials, he is communicating visually. Whether it is an outburst of joy, sharing an emotionally charged moment of his life, documenting his experiences, your child is starting to communicate though art and processing everything that he cannot yet put into words.
Learning through visuals
Have you noticed how toddlers are able to operate a phone or a tablet? Even before they can read or write, children know how to interpret visual information. Visuals reflect in symbols, and in the world of today, these are found more and more: television, digital media, books, commercials or electronic devices. When playing with clay, threading beads on wire, drawing etc. children are taking in the information, developing their visual-spatial skills, crucial later on in interpreting, criticising and using the information that surrounds them. In a world full of marketing symbols, children learn how to understand the messages and choose smartly.
As mentioned in the beginning, it is important for parents to cherish the process that is art, and not to look for perfectly shaped masterpieces. It might be the only learning field were children have complete freedom of discovering themselves, and seeing the world though their own eyes.