Art's Role in Child Development
My daughter and son-in-law have three under three and they are wonderful parents. They play classical music for our grandchildren and take them to play groups, but I’m wondering is art important in child development? What would be the benefit of exposing children to fine art and to teaching art to young children?
Young at Art
We believe visual arts are hugely important to child development. Specifically, we see five areas of fundamental skills gained through art:
1. Motor Skills: The necessary fine motor skills your grandchildren will need for penmanship can be developed at a younger age by introducing large or triangle-shaped crayons, thick paint brushes, and even paint do-a-dot art markers.
2. Language Development: Making art and talking about art provides opportunities for children to practice words about colors, shapes, actions, and objects from the world around them. Having children pick a favorite painting or sculpture and telling you what they like about it improves their vocabulary and ability to articulate their opinions.
3. Decision Making: Americans for the Arts reports art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and artistic choices by creating art, shapes a child’s mind with editing, categorizing, adding and subtracting information.
4. Observation and understanding: Art helps expand the mind by developing skills in observation, perspective, creative thinking, and analysis.
5. Visual Learning: Studies show that people recall information better if they have not only heard the information but have used the information with their hands – including drawing, sculpting or building.
Beyond developing skills, art also benefits children's lives by offering an expressive outlet. All children, from those struggling with communication to those learning how to process basic emotions, will improve through art. For example, a child struggling with anger may benefit from the following:
-- Give the child pieces of colored paper that represent "angry colors". Let the child shred the paper into pieces and then encourage her to layout a new design with the colored pieces of paper. Glue the new design onto a canvas for a finished work of art that you display in your home.
This type of art project will help a child find a creative endeavor to express and understand angry impulses, without resorting to aggression. It will give her pride in something she created. A child who learns to create through art is less likely to become destructive. The two are opposites.
Creating art does not have to involve expensive materials. Use whatever you have on hand in your house! We often show art by a Cuban-American artists, Reynier Llanes, to children of disadvantaged backgrounds because he learned to paint with coffee while in Cuba. He did not have access to paint but still learned to express himself in beautiful works with materials he had.
Art brings beauty and civility to the world. Where would we be in a world devoid of art or in a world where art is censored by the government.