12/07/2021 by Wondertree Kids 0 Comments
Childhood Creativity: 9 Benefits of Art in the Early Years
During the early childhood years, art is an extension of play. It is one way children can make sense of and interact with the world around them. Art allows children to explore new textures, colors, shapes, and ideas. It gives children an outlet for expressing their thoughts, even when they do not yet have the words to do so. Art is a key part of development during the early years.
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"Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else."
- Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
Parents and early childhood caregivers know that children love to do art activities. Yet adults also tend to put their notions on art on children. Sometimes, adults think that art should be a beautiful masterpiece or look exactly like the sample provided with the craft kit. Childhood art is not meant to be limited by these adult concepts.
So, what should childhood art look like?
More often than not, childhood art will be messy. It is about exploration, like mixing paint colors, experimenting with new materials, and trying new techniques. There may be directions children follow as a guideline, but each child should have some autonomy to make their artwork unique.
The emphasis on child-led art allows children to learn art techniques and develop a stronger sense of self as they make art their own. That is why art is an important part of education. Art is learning! Chid-led art does not require a lot of fancy art supplies. You can start simple with washable paint, a variety of brushes, and butcher paper. I have provided links to my favorite brands.
Benefits of Early Childhood Art
We know that art is a key part of early childhood learning, just like play. What are the specific benefits of art?
Fine Motor Skills
Art is an engaging way to promote fine motor skills. Cutting with scissors, drawing with a pencil, and squeezing a glue bottle all help children to strengthen their hand dominance, hand-eye coordination, body awareness, and muscle strength.
Art activities encourage children to continue working until they are satisfied with their work. Art distracts the mind from everyday tasks allowing children to become immersed in their creative activity and get into "the zone". When they are in "the zone", children will concentrate on a task for a longer period of time.
When art is encouraged to have an individual flair, children start to see there are different ways of doing things. A simple activity of drawing a cat can show children that there are many ways to draw a cat. This allows children to learn to accept others' ideas, as well as build confidence in their own ideas.
Art conversations introduce many sensory-rich words, like soft, bumpy, bright, and dull. Art activities naturally include words about colors, textures, shapes, and size. It also introduces practical words, such as paint, cut, and paste. Repeated exposures are shown to help cement vocabulary in children's brains. So, each time a child does art they build stronger language and vocabulary without even trying.
When children are given freedom during art activities, it allows them to experiment with new approaches. Some of those ideas will work and some will not. When an idea does not work, children can then problem-solve to find a different way.
Young children do not always have the words to express their ideas and feelings. Art can serve as a window into their minds. Children tend to regularly include the things most precious to them in art, as well as their fears. Art therapy is commonly used with children because it allows them to "tell without talking". Adults may not always understand what a child is sharing through their art, but using art as an outlet for those feelings and ideas has been proven beneficial for children.
Young children do not often get to be in charge and make all the decisions. As parents, we try to find opportunities for children to gain a sense of control and make some decisions, like "Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today?" Art provides the chance for children to make more decisions. Even if the art activity has directions to follow, there is still freedom to decide small things, such as how big to draw something or which crayon to use. Making decisions helps children feel as if they have some autonomy and control.
Math is not just about solving addition problems on a worksheet. Math is about shapes, size, counting, and spatial reasoning. As children work on art activities, they are exposed to these early math concepts. With repeated exposure, children gain a deep understanding of these concepts without sitting in front of a computer or worksheet. They are seeing how these concepts play out in everyday life.
Children experience stress, just like adults. They might feel stressed from a big life event, such as moving houses, their parents' divorce, or the death of a family member. Or they might be stressed out about day-to-day issues like arguing with a friend or a bad dream. Covid-19 and the "new normal" that we are all facing presents a long-term stressor for children too. Art is a great antidote for stress. The act of creating art is shown to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, levels in all ages. Next time your child feels stressed, invite them to do an art activity. Check out these art activities for inspiration. You might find that if you join your child for art that you are less stressed as well.
My favorite simple art activity to destress is to paint with these paint tools.
Check out some of my other favorite art tools here:
Skin Tone Crayons - For beautiful authentic self-portraits
If you want to include more art in your child's life, without all the planning, join our Play to Learn program. You will receive weekly activities, including crafts and process art, and the resources to prepare the activities for the month.
You can also follow us on Instagram for more ideas @wondertreekids