In an age when most children are too often drawn to screens -- whether to watch television, text on cell phones, or play video games -- art offers a chance for creativity and personal expression. Learning to draw comes with a variety of developmental benefits for children. Drawing helps stimulate their imaginations, improve fine motor skills, exercise problem-solving strategies and can also help them gain confidence in their ability to master new crafts. Drawing teaches children to make decisions and can improve visual and perceptual skills as well. "Draw" can also be a great answer for the age-old question, "What can I do? I'm bored!"
Using the Imagination
Creativity inspires learning, even in young children. When children learn to draw, they have an opportunity to exercise their imaginations. They learn to picture something in their minds and reflect those images on paper and begin to understand that what they draw is a representation of something. When first learning to draw, children experiment with all kinds of marks without any rules and create abstract pieces of art. Since there is no right or wrong when it comes to the imagination, drawing can be freeing for young children, especially children with learning disabilities. Make drawing exploratory by giving your children different materials to try, such as chalk and colored paper.
Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination
Fine motor skills involve movements of the fingers, hands and wrists. Strong fine motor skills help children manipulate small objects and eventually type, cut, tie, sew and do other complex activities that require working with the small muscles of the hands. When children draw, they practice hand-eye coordination as well, with activities like copying an object without taking their eyes off it. They learn to push, pull and rotate drawing tools. They see the different consequences of their hand motions. Drawing can also be a precursor to writing as children gain greater control and make smaller, more detailed marks on a page. First 5 California, which funds parent education programs, urges parents to encourage drawing by providing children with large drawing paper, markers, crayons, pencils, pens and finger paints or paint and brushes and allowing them to experiment with line, shape and color. Then you can begin to teach them how to move their hands and fingers to make certain size lines or shapes appear on the page.
When children learn to draw, they begin to study the world around them more closely. They learn to evaluate landscapes and objects and compare and contrast things in their environment. In the article "The Benefits of Children and Drawing," Artsz.org explains that drawing encourages children to compare shapes, sizes, proportions, textures and colors. Children learn about perspective by drawing things at different angles or from different viewpoints. They learn concepts such as near and far, for example.
Aside from physical or perceptual skills, learning to draw has many emotional and psychological benefits. For instance, children who draw may begin to feel more confident about their abilities over time. They can learn an important life lesson about how practice helps improve skills. Artsz.org suggests that children keep a portfolio of their work in order to look back and see how much they've improved over time. Children who learn that hard work leads to success may become more persistent and self-assured as they age.
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