Updated: Apr 12, 2018
"Every Child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
KIDS NEED ART
Kids love to create. You would be hard put to find a kid who doesn't get excited to open up a new box of crayons or apply bright colored paint to a blank canvas. But do you know that studies have shown art to be incredibly important to a child's development?
I know, I know, you are probably thinking - "Uh huh.. 'studies' show, huh?"
Truth be told, I am at times a bit skeptical when someone throws in the "studies show" comment. But in all seriousness, there are so many studies that all seem to point to the same facts, it's hard to ignore. So pardon me while I get all science and facts for a moment, by sharing a few of those "studies" finds. And then I would love to just tell you what I have witnessed with my own eyes, in my own little art classes.
Studies by Americans for the Arts, PBS, and Author Jean Vant' Hul of "The Artful Parent", all found these concurring points about the importance of art in a child's development:
Time spent being creative ...
- Improves a child's fine motor skills
- Helps in language development- by both doing art and talking about art
- Encourages neural connections - by using all the senses
- Helps develop skill in decision making and problem solving
- Develops visual-spacial skill
- Encourages inventiveness
- Develops Cultural awareness and helps them process the world around them
- Helps them to deal with emotions that can be otherwise overwhelming
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves academic performance overall (Studies found kids ,who regularly participate in art activities, tend to achieve a higher academic level)
Whew! That was a lot of left brain bullet points for my right brain to take in!
Allow me, for a moment to share my not-so-scientific-study experience in teaching art to kids, in one way or another, for almost twenty- five years. What have I found?
- Kids are fearless when it comes to art! They don't think about whether something is going to look good to others, or whether the colors are too bright (but really, can they ever really be too, bright?), or whether their lines are straight. They just create - as if that is what they are made to do. And the more they create, the more they are confident in creating.
- Art calms the savage soul. I have had all kinds of kids who come to my classes: quiet ones, loud ones, kids whose families are going through troubling times, kids who deal with fears, kids who deal with behavioral issues. But set them in front of a canvas with a paint brush and they relax, and talk and enjoy themselves immensely.
- When kids create - there is joy. They get a sparkle in their eyes and a smile on their face, because they feel good about what THEY have created.
YOU NEED ART
Okay parents, lest you think you have moved beyond the need for finger painting and coloring, hold on one second!
Many of the same studies that I mentioned above, found that when adults participate in some form of creativity on a regular basis - it is, in many of the same ways, just as beneficial. In addition, other studies, focused on just adults, found that those who took time for art making reduced their stress and anxiety, bettered their immune function and decreased negativity, especially in those that deal with depression. (This taken from the study, "Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health").
Again, because this artsy girl is no scientist, let me just share with you what I have experienced - both personally and with the hundreds of adults who have walked through my studio doors for a few hours of learning to create.
Many adults have forgotten how to let go of the fear of failure. Many are harried, tired, and overwhelmed. But they apply the first few brushstrokes of paint, they let go of fear, and they breathe. Sitting in front of that canvas, they tend to set aside worries, to do lists, and problems, if only for a time, and they talk, and laugh and create. And let's not forget the joy. It's my favorite part. Just like the kids, adults who finish a painting and look at what THEY have made, get exactly the same sparkle and smile that the kiddos do.
We need art. Human beings are creative beings - it's what we are made to do - whether we are a child or an adult.