Many of us have fond memories of being kids and getting involved in simple arts and craft like finger painting, where we could just be silly and have fun with few boundaries. Believe it or not those formative years of mixing the wrong colours together to form that weird murky brown we’ve all experienced in an art-session-gone-wrong, are incredibly important for your child’s development! So instead of groaning about the inevitable clean-up you are going to have to do, get your kid’s markers and paints out for a fun afternoon of creating!
1) Art Equals Smart
Okay so nobody’s saying that doing a spot of colouring or mucking around with art supplies is going to result in your children getting straight As at school (but then again no one’s saying that this won’t happen!) However, there have been studies that have shown that children who participate in creative activities tend to do better at school. When you think about it, this makes sense as they have an outlet to express themselves, which results in less stressing, and therefore, a clearer mind.
Nobody’s saying that this has to be arts and craft - if that isn’t your little one’s cup of tea. You could enrol them in performing arts - be it a dance class, drama group or music lessons. There is bound to be an area of interest that they have within creative fields, and even if there isn’t, it’s good for them to have some exposure to the arts regardless!
Michelle Worthington, internationally published award winning author of empowering books for children of all ages and abilities, shares how important it is for you to let your little ones pick what they would like to read, as this encourages independence:
"Let them pick what to read. Our local libraries love us. We almost always leave with 10 children's books. It works for us because it allows Tom to have a choice of what he wants to read based on whatever new obsession he has that week. I love the idea of teaching children to choose books on their own, regardless of their reading level. I love anything that encourages independence and I work with whatever motivated Tom to pick up that book, even if it is way above his comprehension level. Books are about so much more than words and pictures. They are about forming connections."
Michelle also elaborates on how your kids will learn from reading, and will pick up habits from seeing you getting engaged with books:
"Let them see you reading. ASD kids can be visual creatures who love to mimic others. If they see you reading, they are more likely to do the same. Talk to them about what you are reading. Find a word they might recognise. Read varied books, magazines and online articles so they can see you use reading and books in your everyday life as an adult and they will grow to understand that even though reading might be difficult now, it will be a skill they will need when they get older so they will be more encouraged to stick with it."
2) Everyone Needs To Express Themselves - Even Kids
All of us need a way to express ourselves, and arguably kids do most of all. The lives of children are more stressful than we, as adults perceive. Whether it’s trouble at school, social situations or just generally figuring out where they fit in, having a creative side project is always helpful, as something that they can turn to when they need an escape or outlet.
Yvette Salvaris, an expert on the subject of early childhood, shares her views on this:
“Art is so important for children, as it’s a great form of self expression. Children of all ages can use many forms of art to express how they are feeling. This is especially good as many children have problems expressing themselves verbally. Any expressions of emotions and thoughts are great for a child’s mental health. Art is such a safe way for them to explore their feelings without having to worry about what others think.”
Even if you do find that art truly isn’t your child’s thing, find some form of self expression that they do enjoy. This could be a team sport, an instrument they love to play or even just doing a particular activity regularly as a family. The only way to find out what their passion is, is to expose them to a whole range of things. So take them to a family football game, go for a ride around the park in a kids bike trailer, or sign them up for a dance class. Before you know it they’ll find their niche area, and probably a whole new group of friends who have common interests.
3) It Prepares Them For The Future
You’re child doesn’t have to be the next picasso for art to positively impact their future career. There are so many instances in which a background in art is helpful, and it’s not just for artists! People with creative minds are valued in a whole range of businesses as this can translate into fantastic writing skills, unique concepts and new, strategic and efficient ways of doing things. Many skills can be learnt over time, but it is exceedingly difficult to teach creativity. The younger you are able to get your child involved in creative activities, the better (you can even set your little ones up in a high chair at the dining table with crayons and paper - that’s all it takes!) Through involvement in the arts themselves, they are more likely to develop an aptitude for creative fields, which really opens the doors to their future wide open!
So get to work on making art a part of your little one’s routine, and hopefully it’s something they enjoy and opt to do in their spare time. Trying to think of other ways to keep them occupied? Here are some great ways to get your kids moving, as well as some out of the box activity ideas for when you’re truly stumped!