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Critical Creativity: Five Ways Kids Benefit from Art in the Classroom

Painters brushes
Students who have the opportunity to take art classes in elementary school learn several skills that their non-artistic counterparts will perhaps not develop. This is not to say that the student must have inborn talent or technical skill in a particular media, such as drawing or painting, but rather that they have the opportunity to fully participate in a creative and tactile endeavor during the school week.

Improved tactile function 

Teachers who integrate creative projects into their curriculum are used to the idea that their students will get messy during art time. It’s essential that children have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty so they can experience difference tactile sensations. Many art teachers will ask their students to feel the difference between the texture of paint, clay, and pencils. Students who have the opportunity to use the full range of their senses will start to learn how to both make a mess and keep things neat. Art class utilizes multiple senses as students have to connect their eyes with their hand function as well as their sense of smell. Students can view how a light hits an object differently in different rooms at different times of day. Students who learn to draw, paint, and work with clay often have more improved tactile function and sensation awareness as they grow.

Continuous collaboration
Students who attend an art class will often participate in group projects where they learn to get along with their peers, share materials, and share ideas. The ability to appropriately collaborate is essential to success in the workplace as an adult. The idea of creative collaboration does not only apply to the arts, rather it can be applied to any field including science, engineering, social entrepreneurship, and the ability to become a global citizen.

Creative outlets and improved behavior
Art and other creative projects are a healthy way for young children and teens to express themselves. Nearly all students, regardless of their specific situation, will need to have an outlet of some kind as they travel through the middle grades and teen years. The opportunity for students to express themselves and their feelings visually, provides them with a harmless and effective way to work through the inevitable frustrations that present themselves throughout childhood. Visual expression is also essential for communication, allowing students to tell their teachers and parents how they are feeling without having to find the right words. Students who have appropriate outlets will often demonstrate improved behavior as their frustration decreases.

Viewing the world differently
Students who take art lessons often report that they start to see the world differently. They are more aware of the space around them, color theory, and how shapes and objects fit into their environment. When students start to view their environment in multiple ways, their brain has the opportunity to awaken and take in the artistic world around them.

Problem solving
Many younger students, especially in preschool and elementary school, become frustrated with an art project that they feel was not “perfect”. Although at first this frustration seems negative, in reality there is an invaluable silver lining. Students need to problem solve throughout school and adulthood. Art class offers an open and often forgiving environment where students have the opportunity to make mistakes and corrections. Even if a student makes several mistakes, by the end of the project the student will have learned that they can turn their “mistake” in something beautiful. More importantly, they will learn the importance of frustration tolerance and the ability to fix their own mistakes, which can be applied to social situations.
Bottom Line

Although any creative endeavor is a bonus, it’s important for children to actually use tactile materials and create a project on their own or as a group. In today’s classroom, instructional minutes are highly regimented but it’s important that students have the opportunity, whenever possible, to be able to use all their senses when creating an art project so that they have the benefits of creating something from nothing. Creativity is one of the keys to a happy and well-adjusted childhood.

Robyn Scott is a private English tutor at TutorNerds. She attended the University of California, Irvine as an undergraduate and the University of Southampton in England as a graduate student. She has worked with students from the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and Africa.

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