Written by Gretchen Hale, Art Teacher at SMMCS
The process of creating art has many benefits, not only for students, but for anyone at any age. The first things that come to mind might be from the mechanical or process-oriented aspects of creating art. For example: practice with drawing, coloring, cutting with scissors, and weaving helps to improve fine motor skills. Also, building a piece of artwork helps children to understand how to break down a complicated process into ordered steps. However, the benefits of nurturing creativity and encouraging art-making extend into many different skill sets, producing positive gains in students’ observational skills, problem solving skills, providing an outlet for self-expression, and helping with emotional regulation, reducing stress and anxiety. Creating art can also lead to feelings of accomplishment and pride.
I often tell my students that drawing is like reading; the more you practice, the better you will become. It is a skill that can be learned. Drawing requires individuals to make keen observations of their environment, increasing their awareness and critical thinking skills. Learning how to draw is mostly about training the brain to observe shapes and lines in relation to their environment. To help sharpen observational skills, students can practice drawing everyday objects found at home, like shoes, a piece of fruit, or a plant outside. Draw-along videos can also be very helpful and can build confidence. Many of these videos (for artists at any skill level) are readily available. If interested, I would recommend looking at www.artforkidshub.com. Let your child choose a drawing, get a piece of blank paper, something to write with, and click play!
Over Spring Break, whether you are at home or traveling, try to reserve some time for creating art. Set up an art space at home or pack a small tote bag with some art materials to take on a trip. Perhaps your child would enjoy keeping a sketchbook. Find a place in your home to display some favorite art pieces that are made.
Of course, your options are not limited only to drawing. Many students find painting, drawing with oil pastels, or building with clay to be therapeutic and calming. The key is to help children to have the courage to try new things and find the types of art that they enjoy, just like someone would help a child find a book suited to his or her particular interests. Providing children with opportunities to create art and develop their creativity encourages them to express their ideas and helps to cultivate a life-long love of learning.