The Importance of Art in Child Development
Although some may regard art education as a luxury, simple creative activities are some of the building blocks of child development. Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics may be more important than ever to the development of the next generation of children as they grow up.
The Developmental Benefits of Art
Motor Skills: By creating art there are many motions involved, whether it be by holding a paint brush, pencil or scribbling with a crayon, these are all essentially important to the growth of fine motor skills in children. According to the National Institute of Health, developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children should be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors.
For very young children, creating art or simply talking about it, provides opportunities to learn words for colours, shapes and actions. They also learn to express themselves better when they start to discuss their own creations or to talk about what feelings are elicited when they see different styles of artwork.
Art education is essential for strengthening problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of decision making and having choices in the course of creating art, carries over into other parts of life. By thinking, experimenting and trying out new ideas, gives their creative side a chance to flourish.
Visual-spatial skills, which is more important than ever, is developed by drawing, sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string. Even before a toddler can read, they already know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means kids are first taking in visual information. This information consists of cues that we get from pictures or three-dimensional objects from digital media, books or television. Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than they did in the past and they need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Thus art education teaches children how to interpret, criticize and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.
When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be beneficial in their adult lives. This is the kind of people society needs to prosper, free thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and ideas to make things better, not people who can only follow directions. Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!
Living in an increasingly diverse society, may bring about mixed messages of how images of different groups are portrayed in the media. Teaching children to recognize the different choices an artist or designer makes in portraying a subject, helps kids understand the concept that what they see may be someone’s interpretation of reality. They are taught to respect and appreciate the aesthetics of different cultures.
Improved Academic Performance
Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievements. It is reported that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours per day for three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.