Why Art is Essential for Kids

  • The child is engaged in creativity. Sculpts from clay draws pencils and paints

    Art is form of communication and expression, which makes it an ideal outlet for young children to use their imagination and develop their creativity.

    As a form of communication, art preceded writing as a form of communicating and preserving cultural and historical knowledge.

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    Today, just in the caves of France 30,000 years ago, art tells stories. According to Parents Magazine, “as kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colors, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence.”

    Teaching art from a young age

    For most kids, even before kindergarten, scribbling lines on a piece of paper with crayon or finger painting are their first forms of craftsmanship even if they are not fully conscious of what they are making. “Children will be better off in the long run if they’re allowed just to be in the moment and express themselves,” says Lisa Ecklund-Flores, cofounder and executive director of Church Street School for Music and Art, in New York City.

    Through art students acquire deeper learning techniques and understanding of the world they live in both past and present. Higher-order thinking stills are taught as pieces of art are investigated and inferences are made from the concrete to the abstract. Students engage in the practice of imagining and investigating and expanding their circle of knowledge.

    Kids are creating art in preschool and even before. This process helps them mentally, socially, and emotionally and enhances their ability to analyze and problem-solve. As kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colors, they learn the basics of math.

    For the K-6 teachers, how to teach art is an important skill to craft. You don’t need a master of arts in teaching, but a professional development course can help. Developing art and craft ideas for kids and developing art activities for kids and art games for kids means you are giving them a leg up.

    Art for kids videos are one way to do this. There also some great text books out there.

    Construction allows students to engage in skills practice as well as personal creative realization. And besides that, art is fun and children need it.

    An online course in teaching art

    An online course offered by Dominican University targets K through 6 teachers. Student teachers will read, write, investigate, and create as they learn about and practice the elements of art. There are three mandatory texts and four recommended texts. The mandatory texts are:

    Art Is Fundamental by Eileen S. Prince

    This book focuses on teaching the Elements and Principles of Art in Elementary School.

    “This comprehensive art curriculum can easily be integrated into any teacher’s existing instruction and provides thrilling and rewarding projects for elementary art students, including printmaking techniques, tessellations, watercolors, calligraphic lines, organic form sculptures, and value collages. Detailed lessons—developed and tested in classrooms over many years—build on one another in a logical progression and explore the elements of texture, color, shape, line, form, and value, and principles such as balance (formal, informal and radial,) unity and contrast.”

    Look! Look! Look! By Nancy E. Wallace

    Look, look, look what three tiny mice have found. A postcard with a painting entitled “Portrait of Lady Clopton” by Robert Peake on the front. They look, look, look at the painting and see that it has patterns, colors, lines, and shapes. As they keep looking and seeing, they experiment with paper, scissors, and markers, experiencing the excitement that comes with creative thinking and doing. Children will be inspired by this introduction to art and observation, illustrated with Nancy Elizabeth Wallace’s signature paper-cut artwork. A glossary and postcard activity reinforces lessons learned throughout the book.”

    Other recommended books in this course are:

    • How to Teach Art to Children by Joy Evans and Tanya Skelton,
    • The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt
    • The Usborne Book of Art Projects by Fiona Watt
    • The Usborne Book of Art Skills by Fiona Watt

    Materials and course description

    Students will need the following basic materials: Pencil, scissors, glue or glue stick, ruler, crayons, watercolor paint box, drawing chalks, and oil pastels, paper (construction and/or heavy drawing).

    Additional materials may be needed depending on activities selected.

    Section 1

    The Foundations


    Recognizing patterns, colors, lines, and shapes.

    Aesthetic Scanning

    Section 2

    The Elements

    Line, Shape, Value, Color, Texture, Form, Space

    Section 3

    Pulling It All Together

    Aesthetic Scanning

    This course includes the following:

    Reading and reflecting on required readings and research, online forum posts and discussions and creating original work based on course assignments.