The Importance of Art for Young Children

Many parents have witnessed their child’s natural eagerness to draw, paint, or construct. You have most likely encouraged your child to do so, whether it’s a rainy-day indoor activity or out of a desire to display your child’s artwork. As a parent, you know that children love to express themselves visually, but there are a host of cognitive and social benefits for your child as well.

Here are some of the benefits that art gives to young children:

Development of motor skills

When your child is coloring with a crayon, threading a string through a bead, or cutting out construction paper, they are developing fine motor skills. When your child is drawing with sidewalk chalk outdoors or painting on a large easel, they are building gross motor skills. Art also helps children to develop hand-eye coordination. Developing these skills will assist your child with many things as they grow, including writing with a pen or pencil, buttoning up shirts, and tying shoelaces.

Cognitive development

When your child creates a colorful drawing of the family pet or a handprint painting at preschool, they are practicing critical skills that will boost their cognitive development. According to Americans for the Arts, art strengthens skills such as problem-solving skills and critical thinking. For example, if your child wants to draw a picture of a tree, they will first visualize how they want their tree to look. Then, they will select the correct tools such as crayons, pencils, or paint to execute their idea. If they encounter a problem such as a broken crayon, they then explore solutions to this problem. Finally, they can evaluate their drawing, and perhaps add embellishments to it as a result of their analysis.

Social and emotional skills

As illustrated in the above example, the simple act of drawing a picture involves many opportunities for independent decisions and choices. Being able to make these decisions can strengthen your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Children can also express themselves through art in a period when their language skills may not be adequate.

In a classroom environment, they can also practice receiving feedback from teachers, and working together with classmates on a project. In a 1994 article in Phi Delta Kappan, Craig R. Sautter suggests that feedback children give to each other on art projects can help them learn to accept criticism and praise from others.

If you would like to increase your child’s exposure to art, speak with their preschool or elementary school teacher to see what programs the school has available. At KLA Schools, our schools have an Atelier, which is “art studio” in French. Our Ateliers are welcoming and inspiring places where a wide variety of natural and man-made materials are visually available to explore. Here, children of all ages come individually or in small groups to encounter experiences with different media that will progressively support all their languages of expression. The early exploration of the visual arts through materials such as clay, paper, fabric, wire, light, beads, shells, leaves and wood, among others, offer children endless possibilities.

No matter whether your child builds a sculpture with clay, creates a quick drawing at home, or produces a large painting in collaboration with classmates, they are learning vital physical, emotional, and cognitive skills that they will use for the rest of their life.