Paints, modelling clay and colouring crayons are staples of childhood. Children delight in using them in all sorts of ways. But what do they learn from that? Is art just a fun pastime to keep children occupied on rainy days or does it have meaningful benefits that will help them throughout life?
Arts and crafts are more than fun and games for children. No matter what type of art or craft children make, they learn three major skills from it that will help them not only in their school years but throughout their lives.
Problem Solving. Art is a process of transforming materials into something new. When children sit down with those basic materials and a goal, they learn that they can indeed find ways to make that page look like a lion or make that lump of clay into a figure. Whatever the art technique involved, they learn to follow a series of steps to get from material to finished product. They try something, assess the result and then, if they aren’t satisfied, try a different approach. If you watch children doing any kind of art, you can see them pause and consider, then do a bit more, pause and consider again. That’s problem solving in action.
Fine Motor Skills. It’s a long road for little ones to get from finger paints to legible handwriting. It takes work. But it doesn’t have to be dull work. They can master the delicate moves required to write their name as they learn to colour and paint and as they squeeze and shape clay. Creating a colourful piece of art is more immediately satisfying to a small child than writing a letter or shape. As they grow, they will do more and more things that require fine motor skills. Eating without spilling, knitting, chopping vegetables, playing a musical instrument, performing brain surgery – all of those things parents hope to see their child do well require fine motor skills. So it makes sense to give children a fun way to develop them.
Confidence. No matter what goals any of us pursue, confidence is the key to reaching them. We can’t go further than we can imagine ourselves going in life. As children progress in their arts and crafts skills and see themselves producing results more and more like their goal, their confidence blossoms. When they create in a supportive, encouraging atmosphere where results are celebrated, they learn to see themselves as creators. Having a tangible completed piece of art at the end of their labours is proof to them of what they can do, and seeing how much more precise and detailed their work becomes over a series of classes shows them that yes indeed – they can succeed.
Art education is not just something to keep children busy or give them a break from less engaging school subjects. It’s important for their overall development. Art helps children grow into skilled, creative and confident adults.