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Art for Social & Emotional Child Development at the Preschool Age

by Aline Lindemann

Art at the preschool age is more about the process of making art rather than producing a frame-worthy product. Making art helps preschool-aged children communicate ideas in a socially appropriate manner and provides a way for them to express their unique feelings and perspectives. Making art also helps to develop the sense of hand-eye coordination and provides a way for young ones to work on both fine- and gross-motor skills. As a preschool-aged child experiences satisfaction and success with an art project, he might also experience a boost in his confidence.

Social Development

Social interaction among preschool-aged children can vary wildly. Two-year-olds usually prefer to engage in art activities side-by-side, also called parallel play, rather than sharing or taking turns with other children. They might be able to discuss their art with an adult after they're finished. Three- and 4-year-olds have a more-developed understanding of how to share and work on an art project together. Providing an art project that requires sharing of materials or space provides an opportunity for preschoolers to practice communicating with each other in socially acceptable ways.

Verbal Expression

Making art that is tied to a lesson in another subject area provides an opportunity to commit those lessons to memory and encourages a deeper understanding of other concepts. Use their art as visual aides during discussions about other subjects. Their work can serve as illustrations for lessons in weather, seasons, farm life, animals, nutrition and more.

Emotional Maturity

When little ones are provided opportunities to solve problems, they are also being given the chance to experience a healthy sense of pride in their accomplishments. Making decisions about how to hold a paint brush, which color to use, how to thread a bead, form clay or cut paper are miniature lessons that can help strengthen confidence and emotional maturity.

Self Regulation

It's normal for 3- and 4-year-old children to be emotionally expressive and impulsive. Given opportunities to learn how to modify behavior through art projects that provide a chance to work on problem-solving skills, children will learn how to regulate emotional outbursts in socially appropriate ways. And as they learn more socially acceptable behavior, they will be more ready to receive new information, develop empathy for others and contribute to a positive learning environment.

About the Author

Aline Lindemann is a health, food and travel writer. She has also worked as a social worker, preschool teacher and art educator. Lindemann holds a Master of Liberal Studies in culture, health and creative nonfiction writing from Arizona State University.

Photo Credits

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