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How Do Fine Arts Help Children?

by Carly Seifert, studioD

Whether children go on to become engineers, school teachers or concert pianists, the fine arts are an essential part of supporting their development in childhood. Painting a picture, studying the violin, dancing in the ballet and performing in the school play all promote important social, emotional and cognitive skills while also boosting confidence and creativity.

Social Skills and Confidence

Art author and educator MaryAnn F. Kohl states that children develop important life skills through fine arts activities. When collaborating on a play or dance number, children learn to take turns, work together and celebrate one another's efforts. Children studying musical instruments learn about the time and commitment involved in practicing and the rewards that are reaped when a piece is learned, building their confidence and teaching them self-discipline. Children working on art projects cultivate their sense of individuality and uniqueness.

Self Expression

According to Ernest Boyer, late president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, an education that includes the arts can help children express emotion and ideas that they cannot articulate. A child may draw a picture of her siblings and dad inside their house with the mom far off in the distance to express loneliness when her mom returns to work. Another child may feel more comfortable acting out her feelings about being bullied by someone at school through role playing or a puppet show rather than trying to put her hurt into words.

Brain Development

A 2012 study by Concordia University psychology professor Virginia Penhune and Robert J. Zatorre, a researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University, revealed that music training before the age of 7 significantly impacts the development of the brain. According to Penhune, this is because learning an instrument requires coordination between hands and visual or auditory stimuli. These connections between the motor and sensory areas of the brain develop more quickly when children are involved in musical study, and lay a more solid foundation for future learning.

Early Childhood Learning

Art therapist Anna Reyner states that art enhances cognition, critical thinking and learning. When performing an art activity related to a subject, children learn the concept better and retain the memory of it longer. Children who draw pictures inspired by a story that has been read to them improve their reading comprehension -- not to mention the pre-writing skills that are encouraged when using crayons and markers. Drawing on different sizes of paper and giving children the opportunity to work within a specific boundary teaches them spatial relationships they will later use in math and science.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

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