Children Develop Life Skills through Art Activities
Art may seem like fun and games but you may not realize that your child is actually learning a lot through exploring the arts and doing art activities. Your children will gain useful life skills through art, so encourage them to get creative, and you will quickly see that your children are picking up these skills:
When a child draws a picture, paints a portrait, or hangs buttons from a wobbly mobile, that child is beginning to communicate visually. A child may draw to document an actual experience like playing in the park, release feelings of joy by painting swirling colors, or share an emotionally charged experience like the passing of a loved one through art. Art goes beyond verbal language to communicate feelings that might not otherwise be expressed.
When children explore art ideas, they are testing possibilities and working through challenges, much like a scientist who experiments and finds solutions. Should I use a shorter piece of yarn to balance my mobile? This tape isn't holding -- what should I try instead? How did I make brown -- I thought I made orange? Art allows children to make their own assessments, while also teaching them that a problem may have more than one answer. Instead of following specific rules or directions, the child's brain becomes engaged in the discovery of "how" and "why." Even when experimenting or learning how to handle art materials effectively, children are solving challenges and coming up with new ways to handle unexpected outcomes.
Social & Emotional Skills
Art helps children come to terms with themselves and the control they have over their efforts. Through art, they also practice sharing and taking turns, as well as appreciating one another's efforts. Art fosters positive mental health by allowing a child to show individual uniqueness as well as success and accomplishment, all part of a positive self-concept.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills enable a child do things like delicately turn the page of a book or fill in a sheet of paper with written words. Holding a paintbrush so that it will make the desired marks, snipping paper with scissors into definite shapes, drawing with a crayon, or squeezing glue from a bottle in a controlled manner all help develop a child's fine motor skills and control of materials.
Self-Expression and Creativity
Children express themselves through art on a fundamental level. Sometimes their artwork is the manifestation of that expression, but more often, the physical process of creating is the expression. Picture the toddler who has a new baby sister busily pummeling his fists into Play-Doh; a six-year-old joyfully painting flowers with huge arm movements blending, reds and yellows; a ten year-old drawing a portrait of her grandmother who recently passed away. Creating art allows children to work through feelings and emotions, and referring to a finished piece of artwork helps a child talk about feelings in a new and meaningful way. Art also develops a child's creativity. Rather than being told what to do, answers and directions come from the child. Art is an experience that requires freethinking, experimentation, and analysis -- all part of creativity.
It is important, however, to separate the notion of "talent" from "creativity" -- a child does not have to create a masterpiece to have a meaningful artistic experience. Art is a process, not a product. It's tempting to want our children's art to turn out "cookie-cutter perfect" to prove that they are successful and on track. It's reassuring to know that we can relax! Where art is concerned, it is the process of creating -- exploring, discovering, and experimenting -- that has the greatest value. Through self-expression and creativity, children's skills will develop naturally, and their ability to create will soar.
According to W.Lambert Brittain, author of Creativity, Art, and the Young Child, "The child's personality often shines through loud and clear when he or she draws or paints, for example, the little red-headed boy who drew red-haired boys in stripped T-shirts. No one doubted whom the drawings represented. Drawings by young children are typically egocentric." Brittain says that "Art activities not only reflect a child's inner self: they help form it."
The final form, the finished picture, the beautiful painting is not the goal of art for young children (Schwartz and Douglas, 1967). The goals of art for preschoolers is to:
1. Express their thinking, knowledge and ideas;
2. Explore, try out, and create with new and different kinds of media;
3. Experiment with colors, lines, forms, shapes, textures, and designs;
4. Express feelings and emotions;
5. Be creative.
Parents and teachers have many opportunities to help children develop mentally, socially and emotionally. Art promotes creativity, builds self-confidence, teaches task analysis and participate in group work as well as individuals.
Art Promotes Creativity
One of the goals for art education, whether in the home or school, is to make children more creative regardless of where their creativity will be used. Parents know that even siblings are highly individual. No two youngsters express themselves the same way. Creativity brings out the child's personality. Viktor Lowenfeld, in Creative and Mental Growth, says, "To suppress these individual differences, to emphasize the final product, to reward one youngster over another, goes against the basic premises of creative expression."
When parents view their child's artwork, they realize the creative process involved is of great value to the developing child. In other words, the process is more important than the product.
Parents may encourage their children to experiment with art products in the following ways:
· Avoid coloring-book-type line drawings or workbooks.
· Have faith in your child's art work and tell them so.
· Refrain from doing the work yourself, or offering too much help.
· Accept a child's creative products without placing a value judgment on the item.
· Make positive comments as to how the child solves a problem in relating to his work.
· State the confidence you have in the child to make the product unique.
Art Builds Self-Confidence
Parents who encourage the creative skills of pretending, imaginative thinking, fantasizing and inventiveness help their child deal with the world in which they live. And these skills will help in problem solving, getting along with others and understanding their world. When used in art and other areas, these skills build self-confidence--essential for now and for the future.