Art Builds Brains - How Art Stimulates Young Children's Mental Growth
28 March 2018
Every culture on our planet has art forms. Many of the things that young children do as play-- singing, drawing, dancing-- are natural forms of art. Your child is born with the ability to express and learn from these activities. Your little human is drawn to these activities because they engage all the senses while wiring their brain for successful learning and problem solving. And if the arts are not a part of your child's ongoing education, it can mean a significant loss in their potential cognitive development.
Neuroscientists continue to find clues as to how the mental and physical activities required for the arts are so fundamental to our brain’s function. They have found that visual arts like painting, printing and collage stimulate the internal visual processing system of the brain allowing it to recall reality or create fantasy with the same ease. Even for advanced cultures without a written language, like the Mesoamericans, the arts were the media through which that their culture’s history, customs, and values were communicated to their younger generations and are still sustained today.
In the preschool years, artistic activities are considered natural and acceptable by society in general. The problem happens when your child finishes preschool or kindergarten and enters primary school. This is when the arts take second place to “the basics.” Too often in these classrooms, art activities aren’t available on a regular basis for young children. They are often considered a nice “add on.” Yet the arts must have a key place in every growing child's curriculum.
This is because practicing the arts is not just expressive and affective, it's deeply cognitive and purposeful work. As neuroscientists have proven, the arts develop essential thinking tools such as careful observation of the world, mental representations of what is observed or imagined, as well as pattern recognition and development. Practicing art, like creating drawings, learning songs, finger plays and rhythms all greatly enhance your young child’s rapidly growing brain areas. To make the most your child's potential cognitive development, the arts must continue to be part of your child's ongoing education.
Here's how you can be an arts champion for your child before and during primary school:
- Make sure creative activities are still available in your child’s life, in whatever possible way you can. Our Teaching Artists have easy suggestions on how you can practice art with your child at home and in your local community.
- Make your child's creative play a priority now. When you're being silly and having fun with your favorite Skilly-do activities like Painting, Constructing and Print Making, remember that you aren’t just enhancing your little one’s creativity, you're helping them grow their overall mental development. It’s fun with a purpose! Try new things, find what your child enjoys and keep doing it!
- Learn how to support your child's early brain development. For more insight and tips about young children's cognitive development, check out our blog, Preschool Learning - Prime Times for Brain Development. And find out how creativity can sustain innovative thinking throughout a child's life in our blog Raising an Entrepreneur with Active Learning.
Let us know how these suggestions have helped you be an early arts champion-- You can give us your feedback right here.