Living in Orangeville, Ontario, I am blessed to be a kids art instructor at Maggiolly Art Supplies. This job has become a highlight of my life. Not only is it great to embark on fun projects with artists who are as free as children, but it also holds great meaning. It is so important that children are exposed to art from an early age, and all throughout their childhood–here’s why:
Children are saturated in their imaginations, constantly transporting themselves to fantastical worlds and different imaginary contexts for their actions. The power of art is to tap into this imagination and bring a piece of it back to the concrete, physical world. Creating a space for children to do this, giving them the power to create what they imagine, can help build confidence not just in art, but in all areas of their lives.
In order to complete the project and gain that sense of satisfaction from their creation, the young artists must first navigate the materials and teacher’s instructions to successfully complete their task. Varying with each project, this process presents a series of challenges which they must overcome. Perhaps they accidentally smudge two colours of oil pastel together–the young artist may become upset because they’ve made a mistake–but then they remember that, using their finger, they can blend the colours together to produce a wonderful effect. Students often devise creative solutions like this which were not even recommended to them, and in most cases can overcome any obstacles they encounter without further guidance from the instructor.
Another aspect of a student’s ability to complete a project is how well they have listened to their instructor. If they choose to sort of listen and sort of watch what’s going on, they will soon realize that they should have paid more attention when they don’t have a clue what to do. Students with strong listening and observation skills tend to excel in an art class, and those who don’t are provided a unique opportunity to see first hand the tangible benefits of listening carefully, and then to excersize their listening and observation skills in a low stress, expressive environment.
After listening to and observing their instructors, students must themselves perform a variety of tasks–painting, drawing, cutting, sculpting, blending, scraping, dabbing–all contributing to the development of good hand eye coordination. Younger students may have trouble creating hard lines, perfect shapes, and making good cuts with scissors, but with practice and continued engagement with art, will refine their abilities as they grow. This hand-eye development can positively contribute to many other areas of their lives, such as gym class, dance, and writing.
Self Expression and Sense of Self:
One of the most important things to me as a kids art instructor is to make sure each project has room for students to express themselves creatively. The structure of each project holds space for the student to decorate their creation with the colours, symbols, and imagery they identify with. They are creating the work of art and so it should be theirs; bear their signature, be written in their own, unique creative language. By encouraging them to excersize the imagination and conjure images and feelings which invoke a sense of self, that sense of self is then externalized in the work of art. They can reflect upon it and appreciate who they are through what they have just created.
I can probably think of a few more reasons why art is great for kids… plenty, really, but I’ll save those for another article. Thanks for reading <3