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The Importance of Art for Kids and Children

Updated on December 26, 2014

As an artist and children's art instructor, I can't say enough about the importance of art in children's lives. When I was growing up, art was still taught in school as part of the curriculum. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts in most schools, art, along with other forms of creative pursuits like music, dance and performing arts, have been cut out of children's lives. This leaves us, parents and grandparents, to pick up where schools have fallen short to teach our children the importance of art.

There are many ways we can do this - we can enroll our children in private or group classes, we can teach them ourselves or we can decide not to teach our children art at all. The last option should not be considered because art is an important part of a child's development. Expressing themselves artistically helps children interact in the world around them and it opens their thoughts to new and innovative ways of problem solving - important skills which will carry them through life and serve them well in many types of situations.

An example of what a 5 year old can be taught

An example of what a 5 year old can be taught to do in art. This child is a student at Green Forest Art Studio in Union City, Ca. Art is so important for our children.
An example of what a 5 year old can be taught to do in art. This child is a student at Green Forest Art Studio in Union City, Ca. Art is so important for our children. | Source

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Children drawing on-site at a local park

Teaching children to stop and see the beauty around them helps them to look at life in new and different ways. These children are drawing a well at a near-by park.
Teaching children to stop and see the beauty around them helps them to look at life in new and different ways. These children are drawing a well at a near-by park. | Source

The benefits of art for children

So in what ways does art help our children develop? Some of the most important things art teaches our children:

  • How to use their fine motor skills (children that develop their fine motor skills will also be able to use these skills in other academic pursuits like math, science and history when graphs, problems and reports are done)
  • It helps develop the right side of our children's brain (the "creative" side)
  • Communication skills (creating art goes beyond verbal language to help children communicate their feelings - ex: being able to draw "feelings" when it's hard for them to express those feelings verbally)
  • Problem solving skills (creating art helps children learn how to deal with challenges) Instead of following specific guidelines like say math or reading problems, art challenges a child to think about "how" and "why" and what they can do to "solve" what they are expressing. This happens through the use of different art mediums and using their own thoughts to visualize what they want to see on the paper. Mistakes that a child perceives in art can be turned into "successes" and be used as ideas to teach them new ways to look at things.
  • Social and emotional skills (Since art is so unique to each child, creating art helps kids learn to assess their own efforts and applaud the efforts of others without criticism) When done in groups it helps children learn to share, interact and bounce ideas off of one another - fostering "team spirit".

Emma Yang, owner of Green Forest Art Studio in Union City, Ca., sums it up nicely:

"Artwork is an expression of how and what each artist sees. Artistic expression is allowing children to use the media they have experimented within ways that are truly unique. Children need to know that drawings are not always supposed to look like photographs, but are each person's view of the world. Children's drawings become expressions of how and what each child sees. Artistic risk taking, experimentation, and the development of meaning are intrinsic to making art, and children can begin to understand these concepts through their own artistic efforts."

Clay art project done by a student at Green Forest Art Studio

Clay is a wonderful medium for children to do art projects with.
Clay is a wonderful medium for children to do art projects with. | Source

The connection between artists, inventors, great thinkers and scientists

Thanks to the instruction of art we have inventors in our society, engineers and media artists (web, sign designers, illustrators, painters, fashion designers...)

Could you imagine if we had no inventors or people that thought out of the box? Really, think about that for a moment. Look around and think about the things around you that have been invented by someone. What if that person had not thought creatively to invent that item?

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this was Leonardo DaVinci. Although most people recognize Leonardo as a famous artist, he was an inventor as well. Besides art, DaVinci also made a contributions to the world in the following fields: anatomy, physiology, mechanics, hydraulics, physics, mathematics, writing, engineering, philosophy, orbital mechanics, botany and optics.

Many of our greatest thinkers of all time were artists.

"There is a strong connection between art and science. In America alone, many of our greatest inventors and scientists were also great artists. C.W.Peale, the great portrait artist, was an enthusiastic naturalist and founder of the first natural history museum. The great naturalist Audubon a leading observer of nature drew various species of birds. Robert Fulton studied painting with the great Benjamin West and was considered the Leonardo da Vinci of America. Samuel Morse was the inventor of the telegraph and a wonderful historical artist. George Washington Carver was also a gifted artist, drawing pictures of the plants he loved so much. These scientist’s achievements in art are overshadowed by their success in science."

Art is so important to our children that it's recognized that many of our future leaders, visionaries and great thinkers in our future will be those that learned art as a child. We not only want our children to be able to use the left side of their brain (the analytical side) but also that right side that is so important to thinking and looking at things in new and creative ways.

Why art is so important for our kids

There are so many ways that art is important for our children that it's almost impossible to list them all. Some people mistakenly think that art is all "fun and games". Erroneously some think that because they can't see "quantitative results" from art, that it is not an important subject to study. Quite the opposite is true!

Most importantly, when our children are learning art, it is essential not to criticize their efforts or expect cookie cutter type results from them. There are those children that are truly "gifted", but we should not expect that all of our children will have that natural gift to create masterpieces. Art can be learned, and those without natural talent can be taught how to do art and work on different art projects, regardless of how "talented" they are. All children should be encouraged to further their art education.

Art is subjective and children need to be guided through the art process but not pushed into "one way" of doing it.

Where art is concerned, it is the process of creating, exploring, discovering, and experimenting that is the most important element of creating. And yes, art should be fun!


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