Essay on the Importance of Child Art Education

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Developing and progressing in the arts requires a lot of practice and commitment. Even if not pursued professionally, it may be used as an outlet to cope with a variety of pressures presented in society. Therefore, educating young children between birth and the age of five about art presents an opportunity for self-expression and self-actualization. Thus, a foundation in art may serve to stimulate creativity in thought patterns that can be applied to a variety of problem-solving practices. Some may go as far as to argue that art and existence are fundamentally connected when using broader definitions. Thus, it may prove worthwhile to analyze the connection between art and development. This information may then be used to create systems and programs that communicate to children in a way that they can internalize and comprehend effectively. Thus, analyzing the utilization of the art of early life for learning and monitoring progression may highlight important details about how young children perceive. Therefore, art education at an early age may contribute to forming an identity in a healthy way, as well as laying the foundation for creative thinking that can expand into other fields outside of the arts.

Art in the Daily Lives of Young Children

In order to observe how art education can be applied to benefit young children, it would be necessary to first analyze how the arts are utilized by these individuals in daily life. Activities like singing, dancing, and drawing are all often used as indicators of development in children. These kinds of activities can be facilitated at very young ages. Research has shown that infants who actively participated in a music group had improved emotion regulation skills (Menzer, 2015). This is because music allows for expressive emotions to be used (Menzer, 2015). Thus, nursery rhymes are often one of the first things that children are taught. Children can react to music from a very young age. Many children have been recorded rhythmically wobbling to dance before the ability to talk, or walk is gained. This shows that the arts are influential from very early on in the life of a child. Furthermore, it highlights the primal link between creative expression and human perception due to the early development of being able to consciously acknowledge art in the form of music.

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This early integration of art into the daily life of young children under the age of six is not limited strictly to music. Visual art also plays a big role in the daily lives of children. In these early ages from birth to six, children are learning shapes and colors, the basic fundamentals of visual art. A young child who is stacking blocks or annoyingly scribbling on the walls of a house may be exhibiting the initial phase in the perception of art at this early age. This combination of playing, as well as constructing a sculpture out of the blocks. is one of the ways that art can be seen to be present in the development of human creativity. Thus, a child who is not yet able to articulate what art is can still be found creating visual art. Therefore, it is clear that art is an intrinsic part of being human, meaning that art education is concerned with stimulating this innate desire to be creative and expressive through these mediums.

Another art medium that can be explored is drama. One of the ways that the development of a child can be traced is through the child’s ability to tell lies. Hiding the truth is a testament to a child’s development of moral evaluation, insofar that a child can determine whether there was an infringement of particular rules, thus the child will attempt to cover up the act (Talwar & Lee, 2008). This ability can essentially be related to drama, as it is a composition of a story from the imagination. The section of the arts allows children to explore many characters. Thus, the active imagination of four to six-year-olds is an early indication of acting. A young child may role-play as a superhero or a dinosaur, thus exploring a range of dramatic characters, and adapting behavior accordingly. Therefore, imagination and the early lies a child tells can also be listed as an early inclination towards the arts. Therefore, finding ways to positively channel this creativity across multiple disciplines that naturally develop in children may help in guiding children towards holistic character formation.

Developing Art Literacy and Appreciation

Considering that an innate attraction to art can be identified early in the development of children, it would be logical to attempt to instill art literacy within the child. This would be the process of moving away from automatic artistic expressions to acknowledging that one is participating in the arts. This basic art literacy is the first step towards eventually instituting formal education concerning the arts. There have been multiple examples as to why actively engaging in the arts is beneficial to young children. These benefits extend to the appreciation of aesthetic beauty, the expansion of tools to communicate, as well as the creation of positive attitudes while stimulating creativity (Lindsey, 2017). Thus, including art in the world of young children may assist in facilitating healthy development.

Furthermore, it is noteworthy to highlight that different aspects of art present different benefits to children. For example, children who express themselves through dance experience more physical benefits in terms of exercise than children who are finger painting. In this way, there are differences between various arts that may help a child explore the multitude of complexities of existence and navigate the world. This exploration of the different arts may serve to open a child up to a wide scope of perspectives that may aid in socializing. Thus, incorporating arts into the curriculum may serve to stimulate the thinking skills that are useful in other fields as well. Therefore, diversifying the arts to a young child is exposed to contribute towards ensuring that the child is well adjusted. Research has shown that it may even promote cooperation once children enter school. Toddlers who participated in a classroom-based music program for eight months reported increased social cooperation and independence (Menzer, 2015). This extends to drama where children who participated in a formal drama program for one year showed increased social skills development (Menzer, 2015). This shows how the advantage of the development can be attributed to arts programs.

However, it is not only formal programs that show these benefits. Parents simply singing to a child three times per week was positively related to strong social skills (Menzer, 2015). This is further built upon by the findings that children who played with building blocks are more well-adjusted socially than the children who did not play with blocks as much (Menzer, 2015). Therefore, the research is clear as to the positive effect of art education, whether it is formal or informal, on the social and emotional states of children. Allowing for this space of expression within young children builds communication and an environment that stimulates self-actualization. Therefore, the responses children have towards art are a testament to the positive effects art has on creating an identity, socializing, and gaining communication skills. Furthermore, the experiences gained in connection with formal art programs tend to be beneficial in the long term, extending to a vast array of factors within a child’s life. Constructing programs like these is essential to the fundamental education of a child who will inevitably gravitate towards such creative activities, in one form or another, early on.

Approaches to Early Art Education

Since pedagogy in and of itself is considered by some to be an art form, constructing appropriate teaching techniques can enhance the benefits that creative expression creates (Pearse, 2011). Various approaches can be taken toward art education. Considerations would need to be made about what an education in arts aims to stimulate. Much of the research points to self-expression, better communication, and creativity as the positive outcomes of art education. Therefore, any teaching method that is applied should aim to maximize these aspects. Although constraints are necessary, an environment that is free enough for the child to create engaging art is an advisable approach to facilitating education in the arts.

It is possible to teach art while neglecting self-expression. For example, art plays a big role in preschool education in Singapore (Bautista et al., 2017). However, there is a great deal of teacher involvement, resulting in a product-orientated pedagogy that imposes strict time constraints and limitations on expression (Bautista et al., 2017). Considering that one of the primary benefits of formalized art education is the promotion of creativity and communication through self-expression, such a limited approach to art education may not provide the ideal environment to maximize the benefits of education in the arts. Thus, a technique that still exercises a level of control in a formal environment yet allows for freedom of expression to be encouraged would be the best approach to providing art education in the various disciplines available. Constructing an environment with too many constraints and limitations in the context of art education may not be advisable, because of the hindering effect it may have on positive outcomes stimulated by this learning process.

Thus, a teaching method that provides a structured environment in which expression is encouraged presents the best approach to teaching the arts. An example can be made of educating a child in drawing at a preschool level. Techniques that can be applied are avoiding having the child copy artwork, allowing the child to use as much or as little of the page as the individual wants, as well as not forcing the child to provide explanations (McArdle & Piscitelli, 2002). In this way, the task of drawing is clearly defined, however, the environment of free creation has been stimulated due to the broad way the task has been presented, which is open to possibilities. This open-ended approach to visual arts allows for child-orientated learning with minimal interference from the teacher (Lindsay, 2017). This is suited for art education because it stimulates identity formation, meaning that learning is an internalized process. Furthermore, an open-ended approach to art education will allow for an increased level of creativity that cannot be achieved through the push for uniform artistic productions. The room for variation that is allowed in teaching the arts is what would maximize the benefits of this sector of education.

Despite the freedom that should be encouraged in art education, the teacher needs to be proactive (Cutcher & Boyd, 2016). Getting actively involved in co-creating with young learners and promoting group work is what allows for communication skills to develop due to creative ideas having to be shared (Cutcher & Boyd, 2016). Therefore, a collective approach should be utilized to teach art. This can extend to all the arts beyond only the visual. Group or class projects using drama, dance, or other forms of art would all serve to facilitate the development of this creative communication. Thus, the approach that should be utilized when teaching is a pedagogy that allows for creative freedom, within a context of working together in order to build self-expression, as well as communication skills in young children.

Conclusion

Art and appreciation for what is beautiful is innate in human beings. Developing this trait is the purpose of education in the arts. The benefits of this education that extend to other disciplines that are outside the scope of art as well is a testament to the importance of this education. These positive outcomes can be listed as the development of self-expression and social skills in young children, which are essential to effectively functioning in a collective. Therefore, constructing curriculums that include room for creative freedom with minimal teacher interference and constraints would be the approach best suited to maximizing the benefits of art education. Appreciation of the arts is a large contributor to forming a well-rounded individual who is capable of producing unique ideas in the context of collective society.

References

  1. Bautista, A., et al. (2017). Arts-Related Pedagogies in Preschool Education: An Asian Perspective. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 45(4), 277-288.
  2. Cutcher, A., Boyd, W. (2016). Preschool Children, Painting and Palimpsest: Collaboration as Pedagogy, Practice and Learning. The International Journal of Art and Design Education.
  3. Lindsay, G. M. (2017). Art Is Experience: An Exploration of Visual Arts Beliefs and Pedagogy of Australian Early Childhood Educators. University of Wolfgang.
  4. Menzer, M. (2015). The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation. National Endowment for the Arts.
  5. McArdle, F., Piscitelli, B. (2002). Early Childhood Art Education: A Palimpsest. Australian Art Education, 25(1), 11-15.
  6. Pearse, H. (2011). The Lost Art of Pedagogy: An Exploration in Three Parts. The Canadian Review of Art Education, 38.
  7. Talwar, V., Lee, K. (2008). Social and Cognitive Correlates of Children’s Lying Behavior. Child Development, 79(4), 886-881.
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