“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Most children love art and creativity, it just comes naturally to them. They love bright colours, the feel of the materials in their hands and the marks that appear on the paper. It’s full of wonder to them. A child doesn’t need to have any drawing or colouring skills at all, they just need to be themselves – children. In comparison to adults, children tend not to harbour inhibitions, self-doubt or creative blocks, they just naturally create. Therefore, to educate children using art and creativity is the best teaching method I know of, it works with their natural interests and capabilities. But what are the actual benefits to the child? Can it really help them developmentally? Yes! Thousand times, yes! Let’s have a look at what the benefits are:
Benefit # 1
Art creates problem-solvers
According to the International Child Art Foundation:
“Research indicates that a child who is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property—key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twenty-first century.”
When we expose children to a wide variety of art materials, surfaces and techniques, we are giving them the freedom of choice. To make decisions, to like or dislike their own work, to experiment, to take risks and to see things in different ways. This is vital if children are to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers in adulthood. To think outside the box with art directly supports them to think outside the box with minor and major problems.
Have you ever seen the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on education? He talks about the importance of right-brain thinking (the creative side of our brains), and how art throughout education can encourage creative thinkers. The world may then benefit from their creative problem-solving skills. Take a look here
Benefit # 2
Art develops neural connections
Art is an activity that heightens our brain activity and encourages all the senses. Sight and touch are apparent, but depending on the activity, it can also promote sound, smell and taste. Due to this, it develops neural connections that produce a whole range of benefits from excellent motor skills to improved emotional balance. It can even help improve memory and learning!
Benefit # 3
Art encourages handwriting
Art is a precursor to handwriting. It is essential to allow toddlers the freedom to scribble and create marks as this will help them to control the pencil/crayon. Once they have gained control of the tool, they will start to control their scribbling. This then leads to them creating shapes such as circles and lines – the very nature of the English alphabet.
Benefit # 4
Art helps children understand themselves
After a day at school absorbing hours of information (mostly left brain), its important for children to have the opportunity to process what they’ve learnt – to use their creative brain (their right brain) and to reflect on their day. Art is a beautiful tool for achieving this, giving them the freedom to choose colours, lines, materials, mark-making and surfaces. It provides a well-earned opportunity to relax, unwind and express themselves. Through art, we can teach our children to accept themselves and to love themselves.
Benefit # 5
Art teaches acceptance
Some children go through heartbreak when they make a mistake. Some erase mistakes over and over. Sometimes I may even get a student who is just too scared to even make a mark with a pencil. These are all signs of children who are afraid of failure. Art is a fantastic tool for teaching acceptance of mistakes, especially through techniques such as wet-on-wet painting; where the paint cant be controlled, and errors are inevitable. Large drawing tools such as oil pastels and chalk pastels are also great for this. Try turning the lights off or asking your child to close their eyes and make marks on the paper. Once you turn the lights on, you can ask them to create a story from their drawing to heighten their imagination. Encourage your child to make mistakes and show them when you’ve made a mistake as they will learn from your reaction.
Mistakes are so often seen as failures, but really they are opportunities to make something beautiful. Mistakes have the power to teach us to accept ourselves and the world around us.
Benefit # 6
Art teaches slow gratification
Slow gratification is another goodie. In a press release from the American Psychological Association it states:
“…the ability to delay gratification in early childhood has been associated with a range of positive outcomes in adolescence and beyond. These include greater academic competence and higher SAT scores, healthier weight, effective coping with stress and frustration, social responsibility and positive relations with peers”.
Slow gratification teaches self-control which is why it goes hand in hand with art. For example, creating a mandala encourages the use of focus, sustainability and patience, all of which are controlled and regulated, eventually leading to the gratification of the finished artwork. Crochet and knitting are also excellent for control.
I could easily go on, but these are my top six reasons to encourage art and creativity in your home. Its easy and it doesn’t have to be messy! I like to use large sheets of paper no smaller than A2 so my little one can sit on it and draw all around herself. You can even head to your hardware store to grab a roll of blank wallpaper. A black board is also a great surface and it benefits the toddler to stand and draw in an upright position as they can control the tool more easily this way. Oil pastels and pencils are my favourite tools to give my toddler when I don’t fancy doing much cleaning. I reserve the black board and chalk pastels for when I don’t mind doing a spot of cleaning afterwards. When it comes to painting, the best way I have found is to put my daughter in the bath tub with her paints and brushes (I recommend turning away if you’d rather not see the mess that is going to occur!). Once your little one is done turn the taps on and give her/him a bath as well as rinse off the paint…easy!
If you would like to give your little one a real art education then join me and my lovely team at art club. You can learn more here