Benefits of the Arts in Early Childhood Development

Paper scissors rock

contributor: Kemmone Hall

During early childhood, the socio-emotional and cognitive capabilities are heightened through developmentally appropriate programmes and activities designed for full and “all sided” development. This, some educators believe, takes place through arts education.  Drawing, painting and working with clay are aspects of arts education for young children.  Not limited to hand crafts and visuals, music is also a significant element.

The benefits of arts education are universal and researchers have identified some of its key returns when included as an educational feature during the early years.  Here are six reasons the Arts are important:

  1. The Arts develop children’s motor skills. This is essential for many activities including writing letters and words. Playing an instrument, using a paint brush or shaping modelling clay develop gross and fine motor dexterity and control (Fox, 2008).
  2. The Arts help children to appreciate numeracy. Number concepts and classification can be introduced while children work with simple collage materials and beads.  “Art is not only about emotion, colour or aesthetics, but also about patterns and problem solving” (Reyner, 2008).  This helps children to better understand the concepts surrounding numeracy.
  3. Music, in particular, can accelerate brain development. The areas of language acquisition and reading skills benefit tremendously. Learning to play an instrument has been found to improve mathematical learning, boost memory and even lead to better academic test scores (Bright Horizons, 2017).
  4. Arts Education helps to reduce stress among the economically disadvantaged. So says a study on the inclusion of music, dance and visual arts lessons among 310 pre-schoolers from poor backgrounds (Society for Research in Child Development, 2016). Knowing that poverty leads to stress and that stress is a contributor to poor health, the benefits of arts education may perhaps be greatest among the economically disadvantaged.
  5. The Arts build children’s self-esteem by giving them the autonomy to express themselves. As a group activity, children working together provides them the opportunity to give each other feedback, which aids in learning how to receive criticism and praise from others (Fox, 2008).
  6. The Arts build the creative side of the brain.  The Waldorf Education system is grounded in the understanding of the connection between the arts and brain development.  In this system of education, there is full infusion of the arts in the teaching and learning experience. Waldorf Education asserts that children learn through play, music and art, and that this approach creates multidimensional individuals who are creative and innovative.

The incorporation of the Arts in early childhood has many benefits, and children’s involvement in Arts-infused programmes and activities will develop their cognitive, creative, social and emotional skills, playing a large part in their optimal development.

Watch the video below to learn more about Arts integration in pre-schools.

Arts integration video snapshot2

 

 

 

References

Bright Horizons Family Solutions (2017). Children and music: Benefits of Music in Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2010-music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development

Fox, J (2008) Arts in Early Childhood: Curriculum Connections. The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=113

Reyner, A (2008) Art influences Learning: The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents. Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=509

Society for Research in Child Development (2016, December 6). Arts programming may help lower stress in economically disadvantaged preschoolers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161206110315.htm