5 Benefits of Artmaking for Children
When I watch my toddler making art it is clear that he is hypnotically in the moment. He doesn’t care about the final product, all he cares about is how the paint feels as it squishes between his fingers. And perhaps what the table would look like painted green! At that moment he is captivated and joyful.
While the immediate effects of art making are easy to see, an engaged and happy child. There are some surprising benefits of art making for children that are just as important.
Children blossom when they create art. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Art builds fine motor skills
Holding a paintbrush, squeezing paint from a tube, cutting with scissors all take varying levels of coordination, dexterity and hand and eye co-ordination. Children have no problem doing these activities often, they never seem to bore from painting a picture over and over; this is advantageous, as the more they do these types of art activities the more refined their fine motor skills become. This helps later down the line with writing, tying shoelaces and other everyday life skills.
2. Emotional health
Children are like little sponges: they soak in everything around them, and when making art they get the chance to process what they have experienced and express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and contained way. By encouraging children to explore art materials, their inner worlds are externalised. When my son gets upset or distressed, my go-to is play dough. The tactile and soothing properties of play dough really help to settle any challenging emotions, and he is soon calm after squishing and moulding it into shape, see my simple playdough recipe.
3. Improves confidence and self-esteem
When making art, children get to experiment and make decisions for themselves. Mastering a new skill like getting paint from the palette onto the paintbrush and then the paper is a magnificent feeling and achievement for children to experience. Research reports
“that arts learning fosters co-operative, focused behaviour, problem-solving, and the development of fair-minded citizens (Jensen, 2001)
Mastery of a new skill brings children a sense of satisfaction and confidence in their abilities. The confidence they develop through making art will translate into other areas of their lives.
4. Art develops problems solving skills and makes creative thinkers
Open-ended process art (process art is all about the experience, not the end result) brings infinite ways to imagine, explore, evaluate, take risks and then to reflect and re-imagine again. Children learn how to become creative out-of-the-box thinkers; they learn how to solve problems in abstract and novel ways. These skills become more natural to them over time and help them in other situations in life.
“Visual arts represent a way of thinking and expressing oneself. Without this, students are forced to think the way teachers want them to think, reducing creativity and expression. Unless students have access to stimulating arts activities, they’re cut off from many ways to perceive.” (Jensen, 2001)Jensen, E. (2001). Arts with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
5. Art encourages bonding between parent and child
Making art with your child allows you to get to know your child on a deeper level, and strengthen the bond you already have together. There are endless ways for a parent/caregiver to give encouragement and connect with a child when making art.
A few examples of how to talk to children about their art:
” You looked like you enjoyed making that….” This gets children to think and recognise how they are feeling when making art.
” This looks very creative…” (vibrant, colourful, strong, energetic) Find other words to say rather than good, nice or pretty. This reminds children that making art is more than just about making it look “nice” or appealing.
Creating and participating in artmaking brings many benefits to your child; it nurtures critical out-of-the-box thinking, improves self-esteem and confidence, builds emotional health and encourages bonding with those around them. These are just a few of the benefits that artmaking can have, there are many more!