Arts and crafts are visual art forms that most people can do easily at home without any formal training. Think drawing, painting, sculpting, and handicraft – with just a few materials, you can create something beautiful and meaningful. Due to its accessibility, it is a great way to get young children started in creative pursuits.
As children have inherently creative minds, they generally love arts and crafts. By allowing them to develop their creative minds, you are boosting their ability to be innovative and flexible in their thinking later on in life. Arts and crafts also serve as an outlet for self-expression, which is crucial for a child’s emotional health. By expressing themselves through different mediums, they become more comfortable with articulating their own thoughts and feelings.
However, arts and crafts have a wealth of other benefits for children who engage in them often. From intellectual skills to emotional well-being, here are more reasons to let your child exercise their artistic juices every so often:
It develops fine motor skills
Doing arts and crafts require serious hands-on work. Children develop their fine motor skills as they wield a pen or paintbrush, mould clay, glue objects together, and use the scissors. The prospect of creating something of their own is sufficient to motivate them as they take on new challenges or use new materials and tools. Through repetition and practice, they can improve the steadiness of their hands and precision of their movements.
They can learn math
Mathematics is present in art, if you know where to look for it. A lot of what our eyes deem to be ‘beautiful’ has a mathematical basis to it. Making art can be a way to teach children geometric concepts such as symmetry, patterns, tessellations, and angles. Arithmetic is also present when children need to divide up their paper equally, or count the number of materials they need for a particular project.
They learn to problem-solve
At different ages, kids have different approaches to art. At a younger age, they approach art in a seemingly haphazard manner with no end-product in mind. As they grow, they start to approach art knowing what they want to create. This is where children learn to problem-solve while doing art – they need to figure out how to execute a plan to arrive at the end-product they desire. By doing so, they learn how to work within limitations (e.g. materials, scale) to devise a feasible plan.
It builds self-confidence
Whenever a child finishes an art piece, they are usually proud to show it off to others. This sense of achievement stems from the effort and genuine heart they put in to their creative product. They want to be able to tell others ‘Look! I did it myself!’. Thus, regardless of the aesthetic nature of the artwork, it is important to respond to them with encouragement and affirmation. As children progress in their art-making, they will also increase in confidence with their improvements in skill.
The rewards of arts cannot be reaped if children are not adequately exposed to the idea of art-making. While most schools have an arts programme for young students, the best place to start is right at home. Here are some suggestions on how to encourage children to engage in creative arts and crafts:
Provide the space and materials
Children don’t need fancy tools to make art. Basic materials like paper, coloured pencils, and glue are more than enough to get them started. The key is variety – this gives them more leeway for exploration. Get creative with what can be used for art! Recycling materials around the house is also a great idea. Setting aside an art zone where the walls and floor is protected also gives kids the freedom to create a mess while keeping the rest of the home neat and clean.
Don’t dictate what your child should make
To young children, the art-making process is more important than the product. They learn through experimenting with the tools and materials they have. So, parents should allow them the space to explore. For older children, parents can give suggestions for art projects, for example, broad categories like ‘thank-you cards’ or ‘Christmas decorations’. This can open their minds to new ideas, letting them interpret and execute different concepts.
Show interest in their work
The scribbles made by your child may not seem like much, but don’t dismiss it so soon. Show interest in their work by asking them questions. For instance, ask them to tell you about their work and explain their artistic choices. By getting them to share about their art, children learn how to articulate their thoughts and feelings. When they see that you are interested in what they did, they will also feel affirmed.
Supporting your child in their artistic endeavours starts at home, and continues into their school years. While most schools have some sort of arts programme, different schools place different emphasis on their arts education. To let your child make full use of the benefits of art, you need to choose a school that believes in the value of arts education.
An example of an international school in Singapore that is committed to its arts programme is the Canadian International school. The school that runs the IB programme in Singapore not only has a robust arts programme that exposes children to various arts forms, but also features the STEAM programme, where students can practice interdisciplinary skills through hands-on projects.
Don’t let your child miss out on the benefits that art has for them. If anything, the highly valued design-thinking and innovation skills they develop will benefit them beyond pure artistic endeavours.