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Importance of Art Activities

Dear Debi,
During the day I take care of my 17-month-old granddaughter and 5-year-old grandson. My grandson loves to draw and paint, and my grandbaby wants to be in the mix of all of his projects. They both seem to really love this time of day. I'd love to learn more about how I can use this time to help them learn.
Peggie, Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Art enables kids to use their imaginations & express themselves
  • Kids learn & use early academic skills
  • Use open-ended projects focusing on process
Expert Advice
Spike Dolomite Ward
Spike Dolomite Ward
Artist & children’s art instructor
I really believe that kids are born artists. They are naturally curious, imaginative, inventive and intuitive. Art gives kids the opportunity to explore those areas and grow in a safe environment because it is fun for them. Little children love to play, which is how they learn.

Art helps children grow and develop through creative thinking and feeling. I think art is about the process for kids, and not about the end product. So in the process of doing art, kids learn critical thinking, problem-solving, and develop social, emotional and physical skills, such as fine and gross motor skills. But really, early art doesn’t have to equal academic genius. It’s giving the kids the chance to express their creativity and learn what art is about which is freedom to think out of the box.

Open-ended projects are important because the most important part of producing for a young child is the process, not the result. I think it’s important to pick projects that’s don’t have a “correct” end result. That way you won’t squelch a potential artistic genius. Letting your kids explore art without defining art for them is important. That way, they won’t become easily frustrated and hesitant or feel pressured to produce “correctly.” Also, remember to choose activities or projects that are short, but allow enough time for your kids to explore at their own pace. Plan things that are enjoyable and that will result in your kids feeling successful.

At this stage, you are not trying to give “formal” art training to your kids so relax and don’t worry if you don’t think you, yourself, are good at art. Again, it’s the process of letting kids explore the art for themselves, so just provide the right materials and environment for them to do that. Make sure you pick non-toxic materials, forgive the mess, because there will always be a mess, and give your kids plenty of time to work on the project and enough warning for them to know when art time is about to be over.

It would be wonderful if children had the opportunity to do art a couple times a day. But at minimum it should be a part of a child’s day at least once a day. Without art, I think there would be a severe lack of creative, imaginative thinkers and inventors. It’s the key to opening up a child’s mind.
Child Care provider Comments
Child care provider for 3 years
I think art is important because it teaches kids a lot of skills. For example, kids learn writing skills and motor skills while doing art projects. They also learn to recognize different colors and other general skills by doing art and they don’t even realize that’s what they are learning because they are having so much fun. And because there’s no right way to do an art project, they have the freedom to “design” things in their minds and to motivate themselves to use their creativity. It also helps their reading and concentration skills because they focus on the art projects and do it to their satisfaction. I really believe that art greatly develops their minds.
Karolina Ramirez
Karolina Ramirez
Child care provider for 6 years
I think open-ended art projects are important to have in my program for several reasons. It incites conversation between the kids and helps them to learn to communicate with each other. They also learn to work in groups and discuss how to do the projects together. I also think that some kids are able to express themselves better through art than through language. I think art is really important because it helps develop their self-esteem because they see something go from raw materials to their own “masterpieces.”
Darlene Patterson
Darlene Patterson
Family child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
I think that kids can tell you a lot about what’s going on with them through their artwork. Kids who don’t have a lot of language skills can really express themselves a lot better through the pictures they draw or paint. I also learned that they can tell you a lot about what’s going on in a child’s life. I think it’s important that child care providers and parents pay more attention to what kids are expressing through their artwork to see how they may be feeling.

Gadget Painting Featured Activity:
Gadget Painting
Importance of Art in Your Curriculum Featured Video:
Importance of Art in Your Curriculum
Topic: Play & Creativity
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Spike Dolomite Ward's website
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