Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Art Lessons

Allowing our children to explore and create is a valuable part of their education. There is a reason that we begin by giving our little toddlers paper and crayons. It helps to develop hand-to-eye coordination and prepares them for writing. But there is something deeply satisfying at seeing your own masterpiece take shape on a blank piece of paper. And if we stop and pay attention, it is fascinating to watch our child's ability to translate to paper what they imagine in their minds.

The benefits that I have discovered from my children's drawing time are many:

Expression of Self

Drawing provides them with an opportunity to reveal dreams, hopes, and secret desires. For whatever reason, sometimes it is difficult for them to put into words those things about which they are thinking. Most of the time, this is a self motivated activity, though I sometimes give them some paper and pencils with directions to "draw something you hope for/dream about".

Fine Motor Development

It is really exciting to watch as their fine motor abilities develop and mature over time. Drawing allows them to master their use of a pencil/crayon so that when it comes time to learn how to write, they are better prepared and therefore, less frustrated.

Comprehension Assessment

Having the children draw the sequence or an alternate ending to a story we've just read, allows me to gauge whether or not they have understood the story and/or the concepts conveyed within. This activity really makes them stop to think about the elements of a story (characters, setting, plot) so that they can accurately depict them in their artistic version.

Focusing the Mind

Occasionally, if my kids seem distracted during an activity, pulling out a journal or paper can help to settle them down and focus on the subject. Today, while doing a science project, my daughter was easily distracted and having trouble with patience. By handing her the science journal and asking her to chart and draw her experiment, I was able to help direct her attention and calm her down.

Point of View

Last week, for the first time, I asked my daughter to examine an object from the top, side, and bottom. Then she was asked to draw what she saw. It was a fabulous way to discuss how things can appear different depending on how you look at them. I feel this concept will serve us well in the future when discussing problem solving.

Having the right tools can also inspire your children to action. My local Michaels currently has several Artist's Tool Boxes on sale for $10. I had been keeping my eye on them for a while, so I snatched up the Drawing Tool Box as soon as I saw them at a more affordable price. It comes with a nice assortment of drawing pencils, erasers, stumps and tortillons, soft pastels, colored pencils, charcoal pencils, sharpener, sketch book, and manakin. And they are all packaged in a small carrying case to help keep things organized in one place.

In order to enjoy these last warm days of summer, we packed up our art equipment and headed to our local park, where we spent the next several hours observing our surroundings and then drawing it on paper. These excursions have actually become some of our favorite moments together. There's nothing like an afternoon spent outdoors, quietly soaking in nature and allowing your creativity to flow. I hope you consider taking some time in the next few weeks to do the same.

To learn more about drawing development in children, check out these sites...

Art Development in Young Children :: eHow

Drawing Development in Children  :: Viktor Lowenfeld

Developmental Art Stages - Art And Your Child :: Artists Helping Children

Art is Important in a Child’s Development :: The Parenting Magazine

Con mucho cariƱo...


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