Motor Skills + Language Development + Decision Making + Visual Learning + Inventiveness + Cultural Awareness = Improved Academic Performance: Studies show a correlation between art and other achievements. Studies have shown that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.
Motor Skills: Many motions involved in making art — holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, are essential to growth of fine motor skills. Developmental milestones around age three include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and cut straight lines with scissors, improving dexterity prior to learning to write.
Language Development: For very young children, making art—or just talking about it—provides opportunities to learn words for colors, shapes and actions.
Decision Making: According to reports, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life.
Visual Learning: Drawing, sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string all develop visual-spatial skills, which are more important than ever. Even toddlers know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means that even before they can read, kids are taking in visual information.
“Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University.
Inventiveness: When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives.
Cultural Awareness: Aesthetics of toys—the color, shape, texture of the hair, teaches children to recognize the choices an artist can make in portraying a subject and helps kids understand the concept that what they see may be someone’s interpretation.
Excerpts from The Importance of Art in Child Development By Grace Hwang Lynch