Preschool is more than an introduction to reading, writing and math. Yes, your little one will develop early academic skills in a pre-k setting, but that's not where the educational experience ends. Along with building social, emotional and physical skills, your child will also have the chance to get creative, problem-solve and use his or her budding imagination. How? Through art!
Even though it might look like your child is just finger painting or simply playing with clay, your child is actually developing new skills and abilities. The visual arts can benefit preschoolers in an array of ways. Understanding what art can do for your child, why it's used in the preschool classroom and how it ties into development can help you to see its impact and importance. What can the visual arts do for your preschooler?
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Every time your child picks up a paintbrush, draws with a crayon or sculpts a modeling clay masterpiece, he or she is building fine motor skills. So what are these skills anyway? Fine motor skills have to do with the ways that we move our hands. These include dexterity, eye-hand coordination, grip and muscle strength (of the hand and finger muscles). Without adequate fine motor skills, children wouldn't have the ability to write their names, button their shirts, pick up spoons or page through a book.
If you want to help your child to build fine motor skills, he or she needs to practice using them. And that's exactly what the visual arts help your child to do. For example, scribbling with a marker or a crayon gives your preschooler the chance to work on eye-hand coordination and grip. Your child will translate these skills into writing, when he or she has the words and letter knowledge to do so.
Other ways that pre-k kids build fine motor abilities through art include cutting with safety scissors, tearing paper for collage, painting with a brush (or with fingers, a roller or any other tool), sculpting and playing with clay or making constructions/models with materials such as cardboard and tape.
Art is all about making choices. Unless you're sticking to a paint by number option, your child has the opportunity to explore and problem-solve through his or her own artistic expression. Open-ended process art activities give young children the chance to make their own discoveries and think critically about the ways in which they use materials.
How does this work? Let's say you give your child tempera paints, a few different sizes of paint brushes, paper and absolutely no instructions (other than don't paint on the walls and furniture). Now your child has some thinking to do. Which brush or brushes will your child paint with? What will he or she paint, and how? What colors will your child paint with, and can the colors be mixed to make a few new ones? The answers to these questions all require your child to problem-solve.
Your preschooler is also using art to solve problems as he or she tries to figure out how to make a cat out of clay, how to collage a flower or how to draw a picture of his or her house.
Art is an expressive language. The beauty of it is that it allows children to express their emotions without saying or writing a word. This obviously has its advantages when it comes to your child's language stage.
Preschoolers are building their vocabularies at a rapid pace. But, that doesn't mean your child has a complete mastery of the English language. Art gives children the chance to get what's going on in their heads and hearts out in a way that they might not be able to express verbally.
Are you looking for a new preschool program for your little learner? Call Kids Express Learning Center at 608-845-3245 for more information.