Art fosters resilience, strengthens community, drives economics and enlivens local culture...
Children Develop Life Skills through Art Activities Art may seem like fun and games — and it is! — but a child is actually learning a lot through exploring the arts and doing art activities. Children gain useful life skills through art, so encouraging them to get creative has many long-term benefits.
Communication 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.
Problem-Solving Skills: 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 to 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 free-thinking, 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.