With the rise of STEAM education throughout the U.S. and around the world, educators and parents alike are recognizing the increased importance of teaching art and music in addition to traditional subjects like math and science. Not only are the arts a stepping stone to other subjects, but they also benefit the social, physical and emotional development of children at any age.
Art is much more than creating something pretty to showcase on your fridge at home. Research shows that arts education helps students become better readers and writers, and students who study the arts also outperform their peers on mathematics assessments. Art also develops lifelong skills used in daily life, such as critical thinking and problem solving, motor skills, self-expression, teamwork and, of course, creativity. When children are exposed to art and fully engage in the artistic process, they build a strong foundation to develop qualities of an appreciative and imaginative person. What could be better than that?
How does art benefit your family?
I have a 5-year-old and an almost 2-year-old. Life is crazy in our house! Sometimes I only get quality one-on-one time with my boys on the car ride home from school or before bedtime. Despite our busy schedules, I try to sit with them at the table every few days to simply color and talk about the new things they have learned at school or what they liked best about their day. Art provides a great opportunity to reconnect with my family.
There are no skill or age restrictions to artistic expression—everyone can color, paint or play with Play-Doh, and it’s great for moms and dads, too! While engaging in an art project, have a conversation with your child and allow him to express how he feels, what he likes, things that he might be having problems with, or perhaps a goal or dream he might have for the future. Expect to learn something from him. Art is an easy way to start a conversation, connect with your child and remind him how important he is to you. It provides an opportunity to relax while forming a unique family tradition.
How can art fit into your busy schedule?
Who has time to stop and color when you need dinner on the table in 30 minutes? If you cannot find a specific block of time in your busy day to have formal art time, you can incorporate art into your daily routine.
For example, if you and your child are in the kitchen as you prepare dinner, give her a bowl and a spoon and allow her to mix a little flour and water to create dough. Grab some food coloring, add a few dots of red and allow her to mix the ingredients. Then, add a few drops of blue and allow her to mix the colors together. Discuss how she just made purple dough and engage in conversation about what objects she loves that are purple. Tell her about things you like that are purple, too. Children love to use their imagination and will enjoy speaking with you about your shared interests, whatever those may be.
When you engage in family art activities, remember to focus on the process and quality time, not the final product. Allow your child to freely express herself in any way that she chooses, even if it’s messy. Just let the creativity happen; don’t try to control the mess. And don’t forget to grab a brush yourself and let your own creative juices flow!