There are benefits for children who indulge in art, but the little ones need to be treated with care in order for them to enjoy these advantages. Here are some pointers on nurturing self-expression in your child.
Art classes are not necessarily about turning your child into the next Picasso.
Everything about art — from manipulating a paintbrush to experimenting with colours and materials — helps a child to develop fine motor skills, hone his ability to analyse, and boost his self-confidence. In a UK study linking arts and self-esteem in 6,209 youngsters, researchers found that creating works such as paintings or drawings was associated with higher self-esteem in the children. They surmised that creating art can “validate the uniqueness of an individual, which gives rise to a sense of accomplishment and to feelings of self-worth”. The study also showed that the children need not necessarily be good at art as “engagement, not ability, seems to be the key”.
As children use colour pencils or brushes to achieve their vision of completing an art piece, their fine motor skills improve. Experimenting with different materials helps them grasp basic concepts in science. They even learn the basics of maths by counting pieces and colours.
Art also teaches that there is more than one way to look at an object. A roomful of children may come up with different ways to draw a playground scene. Being personally involved in the project, a child learns to embrace discovery through viewing another drawing that is different from theirs.
Art lessons may not necessarily be a waste of money. Learning proper art techniques give children the proper guidance and tools to turn their creativity, vision and sense of wonder into an art piece. It gives them a safe and supportive environment to explore and practise with new mediums and techniques. Given the freedom and skills to express themselves, children gain confidence to explore and discover new things.
Enhance the experience at home
You can support your child by conducting art activities at home. Simply set aside a space for art — this is where a child can be free to get messy and experiment.
For your child to get the most out of this activity, take note of these ground rules:
- Support your child’s process In an experiment done at a conference in Singapore, teachers were asked to draw a picture of a cat accurately in two minutes. As expected, they felt pressured and unhappy with what they drew. So when a child is drawing or painting, let them be free to express themselves and enjoy the process. Only then can they begin to explore their interests and strengths.
- Be precise with comments When commenting on your child’s finished piece, avoid being generic or critical. For example, if your child painted a green horse, you could say, “I see you used a lot of green. Why did you choose that colour?” instead of “A horse is not green!”.
- It is not necessary to draw with your child Instead, be encouraging by asking whether he or she had fun painting or enjoyed learning new techniques. For the child, just knowing that you are interested and supportive is often enough.
- Do not tell your child what to paint or how to paint it When children are told what to do and corrected when they don’t do it right, they soon begin to feel they don’t measure up — even if the advice was given with good intentions.
- Do not edit When your child says it is done, don’t suggest additions or changes. It is important that a child feels that what he or she has created is enough.
Let Their Creativity Flows
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