Making art and enjoying the art of other people and cultures is very important to the development of the whole child.
The process of creating and making art is natural to children, as they engage all their senses to explore the world around them. The arts enable children to use their whole bodies for learning and create endless opportunities for imagining and creating. Supporting children to explore and create in a variety of ways builds self esteem, promotes development of important social and spatial skills and contributes to wellbeing.
Involvement in arts activities also helps children connect to their community and understand the wider world around them, strengthening children’s understanding of their social and cultural heritage. Drawing and creating art can support emotional intelligence by enabling young children to share experiences, investigate feelings and thoughts, imagine and explore ideas, focus and concentrate, question and empathise.
Art & Socio-Emotional Development
Young children feel a sense of emotional satisfaction when they are involved in making art, whether they are modeling with clay, drawing with crayons, or making a collage from recycled scraps. This satisfaction comes from the control children have over the materials they use and the autonomy they have in the decisions they make (Schirrmacher, 1998; Seefeldt, 1993). Deciding what they will make and what materials they will use may be the first opportunity children have to make independent choices and decisions.
Making art also builds children’s self-esteem by giving them opportunities to express what they are thinking and feeling (Klein, 1991; Sautter, 1994). Sautter (1994) stated that when children participate in art activities with friends and family, the feedback they give to each other builds self-esteem by helping them learn to accept criticism and praise from others. Small group art activities also help children practice important social skills like taking turns, sharing, and negotiating for materials.
Art and Cognitive Development
For very young children, making art is a sensory exploration activity. They enjoy the feeling of a crayon moving across paper and seeing a blob of colored paint grow larger.
Activities centering around making art also require children to make decisions and conduct self-evaluations. First, they decide what they will portray in their art—a person, a tree, a dragon. Second, they choose the media they will use, the arrangement of objects in their work, and the perspective viewers will take. Children decide next how quickly or how slowly they will finish their project, and finally, how they will evaluate their creation.
As children grow and develop, their art-making activities move beyond exploring with their senses and begin to involve the use of symbols. Children begin to represent real objects, events, and feelings in their artwork. Drawing, in particular, becomes an activity that allows them to symbolize what they know and feel
Art and Motor Development
While making art, young children develop control of large and small muscle groups (Koster, 1997).
The large arm movements required for painting or drawing at an easel or on large paper on the floor build coordination and strength.
The smaller movements of fingers, hands, and wrists required to cut with scissors, model clay, or draw or paint on smaller surfaces develop fine motor dexterity and control. With repeated opportunities for practice, young children gain confidence in their use of tools for making art and later for writing.
Making art also helps children develop eye-hand coordination As children decide how to make parts fit together into a whole, where to place objects, and what details to include, they learn to coordinate what they see with the movements of their hands and fingers.
Art is extremely important, but mostly it’s super fun. Art brings Joy.