Art is basic. Of course, every subject area is important, but no program for young children could succeed without emphasizing art. Through making, looking at, and talking about their own artwork and the art of others, three-, four-, and five-year-old children are doing the following:
- Expressing their feelings and emotions in a safe way. They learn to control their emotions and recognize that they can express and handle negative as well as joyous feelings through positive action.
- Practicing and gaining fine muscle control and strengthening eye-hand motor coordination. By holding paintbrushes and learning how to control paint, crayons, scissors, and other art tools, children gain the skills necessary for later writing activities as well as a feeling of control over themselves and their world.
- Developing perceptual abilities. Awareness of colors, shapes, forms, lines, and textures result as children observe these and try to replicate them through art.
- Being given the opportunity to make choices and solve problems. How do you get the legs to stick on a clay figure? What color should I use? Making art offers children a multitude of choices and many decisions to make.
- Seeing that others have differing points of view and ways of expressing these than they do. Comparing children’s drawings, paintings, or models gives children concrete, dramatic examples of how different people express the same thing in different ways. While learning that their way is not the only way, they learn to value diversity (Strasser, 2001).
- Becoming aware of the idea that, through art, culture is transmitted. Becoming acquainted with the art of the past, children are involved in learning something of their origins and themselves.
- Experiencing success. Because art leaves the end open to the creator, all children experience a measure of success. This is why art activities are appropriate for children with special needs. Regardless of the physical or mental need of the child, there is some art media and activity through which he or she can experience success.
- Making connections between the visual arts and other disciplines. Art integrates the curriculum. Content from every subject matter can find form through art.
When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.
“The Artistic Eduge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly right Brain World.” By Lisa Phillips.