Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Maryann kohl: the importance of art in early childhood, part two

How Art Affects Development

~Part one is here.~
***Remember!  There is a giveaway of MaryAnn Kohl’s book, Scribble Art at the end of this series!  Any comments left on this post or the first post will earn you an extra entry in the giveaway.  Comments on part one and part two will be closed when the final post is published.***
The second question I asked of MaryAnn Kohl is below, and her answer is packed full of information that I think will be of interest to many of you (it sure was to me!).  Being a good parent and/or teacher means, in part, helping our children develop skills that will serve them well their whole lives long.  In early childhood, art is an easy and fun way to accomplish some of these goals.  I’m so excited to be able to share this!  

2. Is a child's development affected by allowing them to experience art and explore art materials at an early age? 
MARYANN:  Art may seem like fun and games -- and it is! -- but you may not realize that your child is actually learning a lot through art activities. Your children will gain useful life skills through art, so encourage them to get creative, and you will quickly see that your children are picking up these skills:

Communication Skills:

When a child draws a picture, paints a portrait, or hangs buttons from a wobbly mobile, that child is beginning to communicate visually. A child may draw to document an actual experience like playing in the park, release feelings of joy by painting swirling colors, or share an emotionally charged experience like the passing of a loved one through art. Art goes beyond verbal language to communicate feelings that might not otherwise be expressed.

Problem-Solving Skills:

When children explore art ideas, they are testing possibilities and working through challenges, much like a scientist who experiments and finds solutions. Should I use a shorter piece of yarn to balance my mobile? This tape isn't holding -- what should I try instead? How did I make brown -- I thought I made orange? Art allows children to make their own assessments, while also teaching them that a problem may have more than one answer. Instead of following specific rules or directions, the child's brain becomes engaged in the discovery of "how" and "why."  Even when experimenting or learning how to handle art materials effectively, children are solving challenges and coming up with new ways to handle unexpected outcomes.

Social & Emotional Skills:

Art helps children come to terms with themselves and the control they have over their efforts. Through art, they also practice sharing and taking turns, as well as appreciating one another's efforts. Art fosters positive mental health by allowing a child to show individual uniqueness as well as success and accomplishment, all part of a positive self-concept.

Fine Motor Skills:

Fine motor skills enable a child do things like delicately turn the page of a book or fill in a sheet of paper with written words. Holding a paintbrush so that it will make the desired marks, snipping paper with scissors into definite shapes, drawing with a crayon, or squeezing glue from a bottle in a controlled manner all help develop a child's fine motor skills and control of materials.
Isn’t it amazing how much goodness art can add to our lives?  I value “art time” in our home because of the joy that creating and experimenting give to M (and honestly, to me too, when I sit and do art with him); but I find that I value it even more and am purposeful in making it part of our day when I remember how beneficial art is to his overall development.  Thank you, MaryAnn! :)

Post three will focus on “Art” versus “Crafts”, and I’ll talk a bit more about Scribble Art, hopefully posting some photos of the actual projects we’ve done that were found in this treasure of a book. (I think this was the first book of MaryAnn’s that we bought, and it is most likely the one we’ve gone to most often in the past few years.  I’m very excited that one of my readers will win it!)

Have a beautiful day! :)

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