Why Art Matters to the Preschooler
Art Builds Self-esteem
"Do not imagine that Art is something which is designed to give gentle uplift and self-confidence. Art is not a brassiere. At least, not in the English sense. But do not forget that brassiere is the French word for life-jacket." -Julian Barnes
Not only is modeling clay, or painting, a great way for children to grow and make new neurons connections, but these activities can serve as rhe birth place of a positive self image. Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of twelve books on art, including Preschool Art:It's the Process, Not the Product, and The Big Messy Art Book, comments: "art teaches preschoolers to believe in themselves, to try new things and to trust their own imaginations."
Like Mrs. Kohl, most experts agree that children that engage regularly in open-ended activities such as art, develop healthy self-esteems. Because the act of creating art in itself awakens in a child the notion that within exists the presence of a creative and intelligent mind, it can be said to be homologous to self-esteem. For this very reason parents and educators are instructed to hold back from offering too many suggestions, asking questions, or suggesting corrections to young children engaged in art. The fact is that the intellectual depths in which a child explores the relationship between the rhetoric of process and technique is nearly impenetrable in the first four years. Thus, in the early years "art rules" can be constricting and become an obstacle to the free-flow of the Self. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the child to invest himself in the process of creation, rather than the mastery of technique.
Art Helps Cognitive Skills
As long as art lessons are kept simple enough for young children to complete on their own with minimal instruction, they can furnish opportunities for the development of the invention process. Many experts agree that art can be a catalyst for the future fruitful assimilation of science and mathematical concepts. For instance, as children try drawing what they see, their eyes begin to assimilate the millions of shapes, textures, colors, and patterns that satiate the world around them. These systematic observations by virtue, sharpen spatial reasoning skills and deepen their understanding of depth, height and distances (science/math concepts) as it seems to appear within works of art. These critical insights soon condense and serve as primer for future associations between the way objects appear in two dimensional art, and the way objects occupy space in our real 3D world.
Art Teaches History and Cultural Awareness
Art by its nature embodies the ideologies of cultures past and present, and so it naturally lends itself to meanderings on geography and history. Art can open the window to different cultures, and offer children glimpses into different parts of the world. Who were the Romans? Where is Rome? Why did Roman artists like painting pictures of God and angels? It is not rare for questions like these to surface during a lesson on Renaissance art. Using art as a way to introduce history to children is a genial way to help children make the mind-altering transition from the world of fantasy and fairytale, into the real world of warriors, rulers, and innovators. The preschool years are also the best years to expose young minds to old masters of art. The art work of artists of the caliber of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and others, can serve as temporary frame for what later will become the child's unique aesthetic values, and will engender an appreciation for the fine arts. Creative preschool art teachers offer children the elements needed to extract the most value out of an art lesson without compromise to simplicity and open-mindless.
Creating Awareness to Technique
As a child gets older and leaves behind the oral stage, pocketed creativity becomes unbearable, Children become eager to explore with many different mediums. Painting and drawing (brushes, markers, crayons, etc.) facilitate fluidity and dexterity of brain- eye coordination and motor skills. Helping children isolate brushes and allowing them to freely experiment with different strokes will help them develop their own "style" and will revolutionize the way they feel about, and create art. Pointing out the different forms, and lines within their work can also help them become aware of how the different tools work together to form a composition.
Developing the Artist
Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist." When children first engage in creating art, they start out by creating what we adults refer to as scribbles. Yet, a deeper look reveal that within these scribbles are all sorts of lines; straight, zigzagged, curvy, or squiggly. Lines are the precursor of drawing, and although from an adult's vantage point these random marks may lack communicative rationality, children can naturally sort out and find representational familiarity with the shapes encountered in the world around them..