Encourage children to paint, create, laugh and appreciate, because research shows that art is essential to their development.
Things move fast in this day and age. Many of us can recall when essay writing was just that; word-for-word on paper. It was back in a time when the blackboard was the communal teaching point and iPads were nowhere in sight. Life was slower-paced, less instantaneous.
So how does today’s interactive and ever-changing world affect how our kids learn? While new technology in early childhood development shouldn’t be discounted – it definitely streamlines education – sometimes it’s worth taking children back to basics in a more tangible way.
Although art has traditionally played an important part of childhood programs, now there is a sense of just how important – if not how critical – it is to kids.
Friedrich Froebel, a German educator, launched the first kindergarten in 1837 grounded in ‘play and activity’. He hoped to to teach children how to learn, observe, reason, express and create through play. He came to be known as the founder of modern education and believed that art wasn’t necessarily about uncovering unusual skills in children, rather, that it encouraged every child’s “full and all-sided development.”
American early education specialists Jill Engelbright Fox and Sally Berry believe that children gain emotional satisfaction when they make art. In their article Art in Early Childhood, they suggest that it can build self-esteem, and through sensory exploration, allows kids to explore different materials, which in turn then builds knowledge of objects in the world around them. Motor skills are developed as well, from the larger muscle groups used when painting or drawing, to the finer, smaller movements that improve dexterity and control.
Like many other early childhood educators, they believe that every child can benefit from art.
If you’d like to encourage and develop a love of art in your own child, there are two very special Australian venues where you can begin.
QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is a fantastic place to introduce your kids to art. While its exhibitions mostly target an adult audience, QAGOMA has an area with shows and activities tailored just for children, like the Kate Beynon: Friendly Beasts exhibit, which runs until October 2017. An interactive adventure for the little ones, Friendly Beasts brings to life four hybrid figures inspired by myths and supernatural creatures. Families can engage with these ‘beasts’ through various activities, from mask-making to dancing. Thanks to Kate’s creativity, she has created a magical world for kids to explore in their own way. Throughout the year, QAGOMA engages artists to present a range of projects for kids. Toddler Tuesday is a free program that uses games, storytelling and activities to encourage toddlers to have fun while learning about art. Please note bookings are essential for the Toddler Tuesday program.
Art Gallery NSW
The Art Gallery of New South Wales offers a kids’ art sanctuary that hosts a number of fantastic events. Tours for Tots is an ongoing program for children aged between three and five, which offers the young participants the chance to try their hand at different types of art. From origami boat-making to painting creatures great and small, kids bask in their own creativity and those around them. Kids’ clubs within the Art Gallery NSW cater for children up to the age of 13 to encourage further art exploration and social interaction.
Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Perhaps with enough support we can raise a generation of kids who never forget the artist within themselves.