Why Art is Important for Kids
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After a day of children painting at the easel in my preschool classroom, I remember looking at the paintings hanging on the drying rack at the end of the day. The majority of paintings were creations of paint that covered every square inch of the paper. The children were prolific artists, covering sheet after sheet of paper in paint. What is it about this art experience that was so engaging for them? How did this help them in their development? In other words, why is art important for kids?
Art experiences help children develop in many domains. Children work on their gross motor skills as their arm moves the paint up and down the paper, and their fine motor skills as they hold paintbrushes and crayons, squeeze glue, thread beads on a string, or pinch playdough, getting them ready to hold a pencil and write. They develop their vocabulary as they describe their art and tell us the story of what they have created, strengthening literacy skills. As children create art, they learn how to help themselves, recover from “mistakes” when their creation does not go as planned, collaborate with others, and express their feelings, strengthening social and emotional skills. Cognitively, they gain experiences with spatial relations (can I cover the entire paper with paint?), color mixing (what happens when I paint with two colors at once or brush one color over the other?), patterns, relationships and problem solving.
Few activities can engage as many developmental domains of children the way art can. Not only is art creative and fun, but it is a brain and skill builder as well. So get out the drop cloth and art supplies and let them create!
MSU Extension Child and Family Development Program Instructor
Empowering Young Children
Developing early literacy skills