A few weeks ago I came across an article by Grace Hwang Lynch; she is a writer and a consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. The title of the article The Importance of Art in Child Development was what caught my eye as well as my curiosity. She made several points in her article and I would like to share them with you. In her opening statement she stated how school curricula across the states are now so focused on common core that creative activities such as art has been pushed aside. The following are some of the benefits Ms. Lynch emphasized in her article.
Motor Skills: Ms. Lynch states that when children create art they have to hold paintbrushes and scribble with crayons; this helps to build their fine motor skills. Primary age children should be drawing basic shapes such as a circles and squares, and cutting straight lines with child safe scissors.
Language Development: Her explanation here is that art helps children improve their vocabulary for colors and shapes. As for me, I don’t always envision what the children have created so asking questions about their creation helps them find words to express themselves as well as their art.
Decision Making: Art requires a series of decision making which helps to strengthen critical thinking skills such as what to make, what colors and types of medium to use and how to put it together to create art. Most of the children in my classroom can tell you exactly what materials they want to use in order to create their artwork.
Visual learning: This day and age, children are taking in numerous amounts of visual information before they can read due to cues they get from pictures and 3-D objects from digital books and media. Through Drawing, threading beads and working with clay or playdoh children begin to develop visual spatial skills.
Inventiveness: Allowing children to be creative and expressing themselves through art helps them to become inventive creative adults that can move our society forward.
Cultural Awareness: Since our society is a diverse society, the images created in art can present mixed messages, so we have to teach our children that artists and designers have to be mindful of what they portray in their art because it can be someone’s reality.
Improve Academic Performance: Ms. Lynch shared a report by Americans for the Arts which stated that children who have art incorporated in their curriculum for a few hours three days a week, are four times likely to be recognized for academic achievement, participate in a math or science fair or win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who did not.
Some schools may have pushed aside creative actives but ours has not. We continue to carry on Maria Montessori’s vision of developing the whole child. The Montessori School of Camden has not forgotten the importance of art in the developing child. All of the above are incorporated in our curriculum. I also encourage everyone to make a small space in your home for your kids to be creative, you will be surprised to see some of the things they create.