The Benefits of Art Education
Art has the power to uplift, entertain, provoke, educate, and bring a community together! It is also a healthy medium to explore thoughts, emotions, and ideas. For your child, creating art can be the way they contribute their unique voice to the social landscape. What they dream, design, construct, perform, and share conveys what is important to them, what sparks their curiosity, and how they experience the world.
Art Education in the Montessori curriculum isn’t just about creative expression, however. It also employs fundamental Montessori concepts of hands-on learning, freedom of exploration, and interconnected lessons. Skills and ideas presented in art classes seamlessly integrate into other subjects like science, math, language, and cultural studies. Drawing plants and animals enhances lessons about the natural world. Cutting out letters and numbers reinforces reading and counting lessons. Singing a song about another country brings more meaning to seeing it on a world map.
Art plays a crucial role in your child’s overall development, no matter what mediums they choose to explore. Whether they design textiles, build furniture, paint murals, develop recipes, write poetry, take photographs, knit socks, make jewelry, perform a monologue, or draw cartoons, here are some ways they benefit from exploring their creative side!
Sensory Integration & Creative Expression
Art, in its observation or its creation, appeals to children because it stimulates multiple senses simultaneously! The simple act of viewing a work of art can evoke smells, tastes, and sounds, but perhaps more importantly, it can capture your child’s imagination and trigger their desire to pick up a paintbrush, an instrument, a hammer, a whisk, or a camera. The tactile experience of manipulating different materials amplifies their understanding of the world around them. From the time your child learns basic colors, shapes, and textures, they begin to develop a set of tools that informs their individual creative style. See it in the way they move, the clothes they wear, their handwriting, how they decorate their room, and the methods they choose to communicate and connect with others.
An essential part of learning any artform is knowing how to position your body or properly hold tools. Your budding artist’s creative endeavors are bound to introduce new actions and motions that improve motor skills and control, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and muscle development. Exploring multiple mediums and performing unfamiliar actions can expand your little one’s understanding of their body and shift the ways they interact with their surroundings. Something as simple as closing one eye and obscuring the field of vision with a thumb can lead to a profound lesson in perspective and proportion! Being creative can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and elevate mood.
Concentration & Focus
Art projects encourage sustained focus and concentration. Initially, learning a process is the focal point of Montessori art lessons, not the final product. Children sometimes get engrossed in learning how to make an item and following directions in a specific sequence, but they hold no attachment to the resulting piece of art. While teachers provide materials and basic steps, they try not to set expectations of what a work of art should be. Like all other areas of learning, Montessori students are given freedom within limits; they know how to start a project and how to clean up after themselves, but what they do in the interim is entirely up to them. This empowers them to follow their instincts and study the elements they are most drawn to, like paying attention to certain details, colors, sounds, or shapes. Young artists are more inclined to focus when they are feeling inspired or working toward a self-determined goal!
Critical & Creative Thinking
Deciding what materials to use, how to use them, and the best way to approach their artwork helps your Montessori student develop problem-solving and planning skills. Personal responsibility is built into their activities; they make messes, then clean up, and return materials to their designated spaces. They make mistakes, then consider how to fix errors, or they simply note what not to do the next time. As they explore different artforms and techniques, they learn to think critically and make choices that reflect their personal taste. They also gain understanding of cause & effect, like how choosing a distinct color, using a specific brush, or applying different levels of pressure can contribute to the overall effect of a painting.
Self-Esteem & Autonomy
The Montessori classroom allows your child to pursue artistic projects without feeling judged or pushed in any particular direction, but eventually, the way they consider art will shift away from the doing and the making. They will inevitably develop a sense of ownership over artwork and care more about the final product of their creative efforts. This is also the point at which they realize the importance of practice and repetition in developing a skill. And because your young creator is empowered to make artistic decisions with a sense of autonomy, they can believe in their own abilities, gain a sense of accomplishment, and get a well-deserved confidence boost! This goes a long way toward your child having healthy self-esteem, a balanced self-view, and a well-developed sense of agency.
Emotional & Social Development
Exposure to numerous forms of art increases your child’s self-awareness and emotional intelligence! Creating art can be a safe outlet for children to express feelings when they lack the vocabulary to share what is in their hearts and minds. Similarly, viewing the artwork of others can elicit unexpected emotional responses, prompting your child to examine their reactions. In group art lessons, children learn to appreciate, accept, and discuss how their perceptions differ from their peers.
Cultural Awareness & Appreciation
Art reflects society, transcending time, barriers, and borders. Teaching your child about artists from around the world and exposing them to the music, crafts, techniques, and stories of different cultures can shape their understanding of other people’s histories and experiences. And as they develop appreciation for diverse traditions, they have the opportunity to reach out to others and make meaningful connections through art. Some may also unexpectedly encounter a medium or a style that resonates with their inner voice and leads them to the next phase of artistic development!