- Misty Spinelli
Why Art is Important to Your Child
ART - That 3-letter word. Some moms cringe because of the mess, some because they say they "can't draw," others that it isn't THAT necessary and takes too much time.
I'm going to convince you that it is worth it. First I will start with the fact that we live in a world where true beauty is slipping away and we want to teach our children to appreciate all aspects of beauty-- recognize it from the mundane, and the grotesque. If all your child has ever seen is rudely drawn cartoons and some pretty photographs, what will they think when they see a Monet of a water garden? Will they appreciate the texture and the brush strokes, the play of light and the choice of color? Of course it is important to expose our children to all things noble, beautiful and true, but how and why that effects their soul is too long to go into here. Just trust me it's important. There are extremely practical reasons to teach art however and here they are.
Extremely Practical Reasons:
Fine Motor Skills: Most of parents use penmanship to teach fine motor skills, but little boys can only sit and practice their letters (and care how they look) for so long? However, I bet that if I asked that same child to draw a truck or a Star Wars ship or whatever he is into, he would spend his entire attention span trying very hard to make it look "cool." Drawing creates a situation where your child is practicing their fine motor skills and building those extremely important muscles on an activity that seems fun, not "school."
Hand-Eye Coordination: The exact same is true for hand-eye coordination, but it isn't just added time spent on this; there is an added benefit that they are actually looking at something they want to recreate on their paper and it takes looking very closely to get it right. A child practicing penmanship, who already knows how to make their letters, is just writing. They aren't "looking" at all. Almost every time a child sits down to draw they are drawing something new and must look closely at the image from which they are copying. ("Whoa!!! Copying isn't allowed," you say! Well there isn't any other way for a child to learn how to draw if you don't allow copying (I'm not talking about preschoolers here, they're the exception.) When I draw the Dogwood in my yard I look at it and try to copy it. Your child doesn't have that skill yet, but they could copy a simple drawing of a Dogwood and that would be great!)
Concentration: As you can see from the examples above all of this takes concentration. Many children lose all sense of time while drawing and can concentrate for long beyond their attention span. When a child reaches this point, drawing can become a relaxation and mind-clearing act for them. Others can struggle and work hard on a drawing to get it just right, in a way that they would never work on a school assignment.
Step Ahead at College and Work: Drawing is a learned skill, not a talent. Now granted there are talented artists, but mainly there are just hard-working artists. I have been teaching children and adults to draw for over 25 years, trust me it is a practiced skill just like the piano and basketball. Most people stop drawing around the age of 10 and never try again. It is at this age that they begin to care how their work looks and have a hard time accepting that it doesn't look perfect. Without instruction and encouragement and maybe even being "forced" to continue, they stop and never try again. Because of this many people "can't draw," so those who can stand out in a crowd. Those who's biology labs look great, literature PowerPoint's stand out, and history diagrams are amazing get noticed, and it's hard to give something that looks that good a bad grade. In the business world communication is king. And most of our communication in the modern age is visual. Those who can create any visual they need at any time with precision and confidence will rise to the top.
Self Esteem: In a world where the majority "can't draw," those who can are looked upon with awe. Nothing gives you more self confidence than knowing you have skills which are useful and appreciated by those around you.
Make art, and especially drawing, a part of your homeschool. Even if you "can't draw," you can teach your kids how. Just give them a piece of paper, a pencil, and something to copy, and say, "copy that." You will be glad you did.