Art + The Developing Mind

Art is more than just an activity for a child- it’s an outlet for self-expression, exercising autonomy and control, and making sense of their world. Art is a good way for children to develop executive functioning through planning, problem solving, and divergent thinking- these skills are applicable in other aspects of life.

“Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

Art can help build the following skills:

  • Fine motor skills. Grasping pencils, crayons, chalk and paintbrushes helps children develop their fine motor muscles. This development will help your child with buttoning a coat and other tasks that require fine, controlled movements.

  • Cognitive development. Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., pushing hard makes the color darker). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan.

  • Math skills. Children can learn, create and begin to understand concepts like size, shape, making comparisons, counting and spatial reasoning.

  • Language skills. As children describe and share their artwork, as well as their process, they develop language skills. You can encourage this development by actively listening and asking open-ended questions in return. It is also a great opportunity to learn new vocabulary words regarding their creation.

Art is also an opportunity for free expression which is great for your child’s mental health. Giving your child a creative outlet can help relieve stress and work through things happening in their lives. By encouraging artistic expression, you can help facilitate learning.

Tips for fostering a positive art environment:

· Provide choices- paint, colored pencils, chalk, markers, crayons, safety scissors, stamps, and even include unexpected materials like cut up sponges, pasta, q-tips, and dry beans.

· Keep things open-ended- you don’t need specific plans or goals when making art. If they change their mind several times or make a big mess, that’s okay, it’s part of the creative process.

· Support but don’t take over- sometimes things are less fun when someone is telling you exactly what to do. Let them decide what to use and how to use it. If they want smudge the marker before it dries, embrace it!

You can encourage your child when they share their art with you. When it’s difficult to identify what they’ve created, instead of asking “what is it” try saying “Wow! Tell me all about it!” or “That looks like it took a lot of time to create! Tell me about how you did that!” You can also describe specific things your child is doing like “You’re making small circles, and using two crayons at the same time!”

The link below will take you to 30 different ideas of how to make art with your kids!

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©2019 Rebecca Cedillo Hope Through Help Foundation