Art encompasses a variety of activities like drawing, colouring, sculpting, music, dance, photography, and much more that requires imagination, creativity, and planning. It is an extension of ourselves as our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and desires are portrayed in our art form. Art is an activity that children are naturally drawn to, probably because of the freedom it offers the child to explore and express themselves. Children are curious and love exploring, so with minimal instruction, watch them as they spend hours fully engrossed in art activities.
Initially, with art and colours, it’s all about how it feels, how colours mix and their effect on paper, how different types of colours behave differently, how to increase and decrease the intensity of colour, and so on. When young children are allowed to play freely with colour, the self-directed activity gets their minds fully involved. It gives them an opportunity to experiment, explore, understand, learn, and develop skills which would be useful as they grow older.
Art should definitely be taught and encouraged in preschool because of the myriad of benefits its offers.
Benefits of Art
1. Fine Motor Skills –
The development of this skill is one of the benefits of art in preschool. Through art, children learn the different grasps required for a pencil, an eraser, a crayon, paint brushes, clay, and paper. They learn about the different amounts of force needed in drawing, erasing, painting, modeling clay, manipulating paper, and so on. These activities will help your child in further activities like writing, dressing and feeding themselves, feeding themselves even playing a musical instrument, as it requires very specific and controlled fine motor movements.
2. Cognitive Skills –
Art activities for preschoolers give them a chance to think about what they want to create and the type of colours to use. Children learn different ways to use different types of colours like crayons, pencils colours, sketch pens, water colours, and so on. They learn how to increase or reduce the intensity of the colours and the effects of mixing and blending colours. This activity also teaches children to mentally visualize what they want to create or draw.
3. Math Skills –
Through art activities, children create, understand, and learn different patterns, shapes, and sizes. There is counting involved as well as comparisons concepts like more-less than, equal, bigger/larger-smaller than, etc. These are all early math concepts that will help in developing their math skills.
4. Spatial Skills –
Children develop their spatial skills through art when planning what, how, and where to draw on a sheet of paper. The size of the objects to be drawn, as well as the positioning of the objects in relation to each other and the sheet of paper, also needs to be considered in any art activity.
5. Language Skills –
Another benefit of art activities is that it gives children a chance to talk about their artwork. Preschoolers can learn and practice their vocabulary as they describe their creations. As parents, you can help them along by showing interest in what they have done and asking them open-ended questions. This gives the child a chance to think and answer.
6. Emotional Development –
When children have an alternate outlet, they are less likely to have an outburst or a meltdown. Usually, children indulge in such behaviors when they are frustrated, out of patience, and not able to express themselves. Art activities help relax a child, especially when they are left to their own devices without much instruction or interruptions. They can freely express themselves by focusing all their energies on their artwork and then, at a later time, maybe more willing to talk about their art or what they are feeling.
Art Activities in Preschool are of Two Kinds
Product Based and Process-Oriented
Product Based Art –
This type of art activity involves continuous instruction from the teachers to achieve a particular end product. The focus is on completing and finishing a product rather, as seen in festival-themed activities that the children complete and the teachers put up for display. This type of activity teaches the children to listen and follow instructions, focus, and work fast to complete their work. The children get a sense of accomplishment when their work is completed.
Process Based Art –
This type of art activity has minimal interference from the teacher. Once the child is taught how to use the equipment and materials provided, they are left free to explore and experiment by themselves. The focus is to develop the above-mentioned skills and to get the children excited about their creations. The end product is very individualistic and gives the children a chase to use their imaginations.
Art activities in preschool should definitely be encouraged. Apart from the wide array of benefits discussed earlier, the preschool has the infrastructure and the ability to give children a wide variety of art experiences, materials, space, and experienced teachers, all of which is not always possible at home. The art activities in preschool give children are given a chance to explore-
- Colouring and Drawing with crayons, pencils, pencil colours, and sketch pens.
- Working with and manipulating different types of paper- folding, tearing, balling, scrunching, rolling, sticking, etc.
- Molding and creating objects out of clay/playdoh
- Crafting with glue, string, yarn, cotton balls, ice cream sticks, buttons, beads, etc.
- Making collages
- Painting using brushes and water colours or poster paints.
- Finger painting
- Different painting techniques like balloon painting, bubble painting, marble painting, printing, working with stencils and sponges, etc.
As parents, even though we might not be to give our children too many art experiences, there are
Ways in which We can Encourage the Kids
Follow their Lead –
Sit with your child and draw like them using scribbles and lines. You can even ask them to teach you to draw something. When you draw better than them, your child may feel the pressure of imitating your drawing and may lose interest in their creation.
Give Choices –
As far as possible, give your children a variety of art materials they can work with. Sometimes you can even surprise them with elements like sparkle glue, buttons, ice cream sticks, stickers, etc.
Guide, Don’t Lead –
Very often, as adults, we get so excited about what our child is doing that we tend to take over the activity. Even though we do this with the best intentions, our children will lose interest as they won’t identify the work as theirs anymore. If you see your child struggling or if they come to you for help, only then step in and make sure you step out as well and leave them to their own devices.
Let the Activity be Open-Ended –
With preschool children, the focus of the art activity should be the process and not the product. Preschool children are still learning the intricacies of art, art forms, and different materials. Leaving the activity open-ended gives them a chance to change their mind, build on what they’ve done or even start all over again with a better plan. It is all part of the learning process.
Enjoy the Process, Not the Product –
Self-directed art activities help build motivation and let your child express themselves freely without them having to worry about what others are going to think or say about the end product. This will curb their creativity, and they will end up doing similar artwork just to gain others’ approval.
Let It Be –
Whether your child is dipping their fingers in various paints, dropping paints all over the work area and mixing it up, peeling the covers of the crayons, or continuously sharpening their coloured pencils, let them be. Children learn by exploring, and this is their way of understanding and assimilating information. Make sure you spread enough newspaper on the floor and the work area to make cleaning up easier.
Now that we know so much more about art activities, as parents, let’s not focus too much on the mess and wastage, the benefits of art for preschoolers are tremendous and far outweigh the discomfort of cleaning up. The joy and pride on your children’s faces when they work hard and finish their activity is well worth it.
Click here to visit a EuroKids centre near you and see for yourself how art activities are conducted in our preschools, the faces of the children, and the mannerisms of the teacher to guide the children in their work. Use your newly gained knowledge to identify whether the activity you are observing is processed-based or product based.
Visit EuroKids for more such engaging blogs.