Art is so messy. It takes so much time. Did I mention it was messy? Open-ended art projects can really take over a home. On the other hand, art offers a host of surprising benefits that overlap with academic subjects. The time spent with finger paint or play dough can have a positive effect on a child’s spatial intelligence, scientific thinking skills and mathematical ability. Take a chance, do art.
Quick Overview of 17 Skills that Art Built
Cause and effect: Preschoolers with art supplies will naturally engage in scientific thinking, testing actions and their results. Watching glitter stick to a glue line or checking if a red marker will color their fingernails like mom is a way of testing cause and effect,
Conservation: This means knowing that the arrangement of things can be changed while the amount remains the same. Before children have this concept down they may think ten pieces of chalk laid end to end is more than ten pieces of chalk in a pile, or vice versa.
Correspondence: Working with art supplies can help a child figure out that the number one represents one item, two stands for two items and so on. “Do you want one sticker or two?”
Counting: Knowing the names of all the numbers in order is a big skill for a child to grasp. Count out crayons or the fish they colored. Count strings or beads, count as they make a chain of paperclips.
Creativity: It goes without saying that art builds a child’s creativity or imaginative skills. This is actually a very useful scientific skill. Knowing how to think of different possible solutions involves using creativity to solve a problem.
Fine motor coordination: Kids who have access to art supplies will develop dexterity and strength. Beading, weaving, drawing and having access to other art projects can help develop this skill.
Matching: Identifying items that are alike. Putting all the red beads on the string, or drawing an eye that matches the first eye.
Measuring: Learning to compare and determine size. Let your child help measuring and mixing ingredients to make play dough or tempera paint from dry powder.
Ordering: Putting like items together also teaches qualities of items such as dark and light, big and small.
Patterning: Creating patterns and recognizing patterns helps to develop math skills.
Planning: As children draw or play with clay, they start to plan out their next move. “If I add big teeth to this monster he will look scary!”
Predicting: While working with art material, ask your child questions to help them predict what might happen next. Put broken crayons in muffin tins and ask your child what will happen when you put it in the oven.
Problem solving: Figuring out how to make objects stick when making a collage is just one way kids can build problem solving skills in art.
Reversibility: Figuring out that some things can be undone, like redoing a lump of clay and some things can’t, like mixing all the paint into one brown glob.
Sorting and classifying: Grouping things according to properties is a skill that can be built upon using art supplies of all kinds.
Symbolic representation: Marks and objects can represent another thing. Raisins, buttons, pebbles or beads can be eyes in the art world.
Vocabulary: Expand a child’s vocabulary by talking through art projects. Art bring parents and children to an accessible place where discoveries can be made. Knowing the names for things and knowing how to express abstract ideas quickly builds the range of vocabulary.
All of these important skills continue to develop as the child grows. Providing time and supplies for children to explore art throughout the elementary and teen years can have a very positive effect. Art also builds self-confidence and provides a place to process confusing emotions.
More by Sylvie Branch:
Art Lesson: Miniature Treehouse Project
Tin Can Art: 2 Dimensional Collages
Activa Rigid Wrap Projects