Using Art to Connect the Dots
6 Benefits of Including Art Activities in Everyday Life
Do you ever wonder if kids really need art in their lives? Are they going to be professional artists when they grow up? If not, why should children spend valuable time playing around with art? I have to admit that I asked myself some of these same questions when my children were young. Then one day I was in the park with my youngest, and something clicked. I saw the reasons to connect the dots between art and our daily lives.
That chilly, fall day, my rosy-cheeked 6-year-old was swinging, running, and hanging from the monkey bars at the park. I asked him to tell me what he was seeing, feeling, and thinking, and I wrote it all down. As he realized I was really listening, he shared more and more. He was a real chatterbox as we walked home — which I loved, of course. I told him we were going to take all of his observations and make poems out of them. Not a big hit, as you can imagine, but then I said we could decorate the poems and make a calendar to send to his relatives as a Christmas gift, and he was in.
Since he was only 6, the poetry had to be simple, so we went with haiku. The format is structured, usually has a nature theme, and would use his big list of descriptive words. He loved that he could change the meaning of the poem by changing a word or two, but he really loved creating the drawings to go with his poem. So in one trip to the park, we were able to connect the dots between syllables, haiku poetry, art, the computer (to print everything out), gift-giving and how the post office works.
Looking back, I wondered why I had never made much effort to connect the dots between art and the other things we were doing beyond the usual crayons, coloring books, and sidewalk chalk. Going forward, I saw the potential benefits of including art in our day to day activities, and I have to say it was worth the effort. Here are some of the benefits I discovered through the years.
1. Art is FUN! Think about it — when you have something you don't really like doing, if you find a way to add a bit of fun, it doesn't seem as tedious. The same thing goes for children. If you can include an art component as part of other academic activities the fun gets spread around. Art is an excellent way to develop a love of learning.
2. Practice makes perfect! Little hands need to practice to develop fine motor skills, and art is the ideal opportunity to practice manipulating tools in a creative, pressure-free environment. Consider the skill it takes to use utensils to feed ourselves or use a knife to cut food. Painting with a paintbrush and sculpting with clay tools develops the fine motor skills similar to what's needed for eating, and a whole lot safer than practicing with knives.
3. Yes, I can! Nothing makes a child more proud than to hold up something and say, "Look what I did!" Learning to communicate with words and then written words, can be a daunting task, but add an illustration to the writing, and you're bound to see a smile. Children that feel good about their accomplishments are more confident in everything they do!
4. Feed the brain! Children are sponges, anxious to learn, and try new things. Combining lots of different activities with your children ensures that their brains are firing neurons like crazy. So combine activities — the more, the merrier — just remember to keep art in the mix as a component of holistic brain development.
5. No problem! Problems are a fact of life and the challenges we face only get bigger as we age. It's important to let children try and solve their problems when they're young to build the analytical thought processes to prepare them for bigger problems. Art is a great way to build that analytical thinking. Consider a child who's painting a landscape and needs green paint, but doesn't have the green color, what will the child do? It may seem simple to adults, but it's an opportunity to solve a problem through trial and error without terrible consequences. Children feel empowered when they try and finally succeed, which makes art is a great way to encourage problem-solving.
6. Thinking outside the box! Our world is complex and gets more complicated each day. Art helps children consider a wide range of possibilities creatively. There is no right or wrong, but an abundance of options and opportunities to explore which can inspire children to be innovative thinkers. Wouldn't it be great if all of our children could keep that innovative thinking throughout their lives!
The little artist who inspired this post is far from little today. However, I can proudly say that he still connects the dots between art and his life — which you can view for yourself in any of our fun vlogs which he films and edits!