Nurturing an appreciation for art in young children encourages exploration, self-expression, logical thinking, self-confidence and creativity. Early exposure to art and experiences with art also teach children to think more openly, use their imagination and be more tolerant of differences. As a parent, you play a crucial role in your child’s development and education, and you can encourage art appreciation in your young child. Provide an abundant supply of creative materials, visit museums and other art exhibits, and look at wordless picture books with your child.
Importance of Art in Child Development
Creative activities like art provide many developmental benefits. Some important skills include :
. Motor skills :
According to the National Institutes of Health, developmental milestones for toddlers include drawing circles and squares as well as using scissors. Many of the motions your child makes in creating art, such as holding a crayon, are important to the growth of their fine motor skills.
. Improved academic performance :
Research shows a connection between art and academic achievement. One study found that youth who participate in the arts regularly are four times more likely to receive recognition for academic achievement.
. Language development :
Making and talking about art provides your child with opportunities to learn words. Young children learn basics such as colors, shapes and actions. Older children learn descriptive words in discussing their artwork or talking about the feelings and thoughts in response to different styles of artwork.
Provide a Supply of Creative Materials
Give your child access to open-ended art materials so she can be exposed to a variety of art forms and explore her own expression. Supply varied, abundant art materials at home. Some art supplies to provide include:
- Washable paints
- Paper: construction, colored tissue, scrap
- Paper towel tubes
- Popsicle sticks
- Empty water bottles
- Paper plates
Use only nontoxic materials, and always sit with your child during the art making to supervise and ensure no art supplies are swallowed.
Keep in mind that a young child’s art creations tend to be messy. Be sure to protect the work area to make cleanup easier; use newspaper or a vinyl tablecloth. Protect his clothes with a smock or clothes you don’t mind ruining.
Encourage your child to tell you about her creation. Remember not to judge your child’s artwork or criticize, since for young children, it is the art creation process that is important, not the product. Of course, you should not ignore the end product; hang her masterpiece around the house for her to enjoy.
. Take Trips to Art Museums
Take your child to an art museum. Viewing art helps kids develop emotional, verbal and social skills. Art museums, whether a traditional museum or a children’s museum, improve your child’s understanding of textures and dimensions. Engage with your child throughout the trip, asking about his observations. Encourage critical thinking by asking questions about what the artist might have been thinking when making the painting, for example.
. Wordless Picture Books
Use wordless picture books to help your child learn how pictures convey meaning and communicate ideas, tell stories and express emotions. “Read” a wordless picture book with your child, and let your child come to her own conclusion about what stories the pictures tell. Children can create their own wordless picture books with stencils for assistance.
You don’t have to be a skilled artist to encourage your child’s art exploration. Just provide the supplies and take the time.