Why are the visual arts such a critical need in the lives of children?



As I sit here thinking about how much the world has changed since I was a little girl, I’m constantly reminded about why I love doing what I do and why it continues to be so important in the precious lives of our young children. There are many reasons why the arts are so critical in children’s lives, but today, these would be my top 5:

  1. Art teaches tolerance, empathy and an awareness of other cultures. Art history is a powerful tool and can easily be brought into children’s lives. We learn, not only about ourselves, but other people’s lives, hardships, sacrifices, accomplishments and victories. Using our words to describe a painting (sculpture, etc.), opens up our minds and hearts to others. This helps to breed compassion, something we need much more of in our world today.
  2. Art develops critical thinking and fine motor skills. It is amazing to see the difference in a child that has gone through the Wee Little Arts program. We see development in fine motor skills, which help when the children begin to write. Because of our teaching method, our students are able to begin to make connections with other subjects, which develops their critical thinking skills. Teachers constantly rave about the fact that they may be teaching something in the classroom and a student relates it back to what we had discussed in art class (STEM TO STEAM). The light bulbs are constantly going off! In our world today, critical thinking skills are essential. We need to understand that there may be more than one way to solve a problem and the visual arts embody this naturally.
  3. Art creates self-awareness, confidence and expression. It is such a daily treat to see the smiles on children’s faces when they have accomplished a goal, used materials correctly and been able to express their ideas and thoughts through art, which is already a very natural process. It is even more profound when you walk into one of our classrooms and you experience 3-6 year olds discussing their own art with one another. The icing on the cake…when we display the children’s work, in the hallways, and they run to their piece, showing their parents and explaining what process they went through to create it!
  4. Art encourages focus. On a regular basis, parents ask me how their child is doing in art class. They always seem to be a little “taken-aback” if I tell them that their son/daughter is completely focused during our 45 minute sessions. When art is presented properly to children, as a process, they are naturally interested in all aspects of learning and creating. They are open books…sponges at this age!
  5. Art is FUN! Although it is obvious how imperative the visual arts are in the lives of children, it is also important to remember that children learn through play, discussion and in an environment that stimulates creativity and encourages growth. Relating to the children not only keeps me young, but reminds me just how prized childhood is.

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