Importance of Arts education in early childhood
A kid sitting in a pool of colors with paints all over her hands and stains all over her clothes seems like a mess! Only if you consider it to be so. Because a person who knows the significance of this artsy play would indulge in that colorful, vibrant exploration and encourage that kid to get her hands ‘dirty’ and let her have fun with it. Of course with ensured safety. Whether the child is admitted to a formal educational institution or nurtured in homeschooling, diving into this mesmerizing world of art will turn out to be immensely enlightening and fruitful for the child’s development.
What is Art?
For the sake of defining a vague, evolving, and extremely subjective term, Art is an aesthetic and creative form of reaction or response to one’s cognition. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and ways of expression, including music, theatre, literature, film, sculpture, architecture, paintings, or any mixed media artwork. Making food, stitching cloth, knitting, and much more are considered art. We have come to a point where we suggest that showcasing profound skills in executing any task is an ‘art’, for example, communication or carpentry! Its an art as said
The definition of art has gone through many debates over years and it keeps on changing, evolving, and taking different shapes according to individual’s interpretation. A person can use it as commentary on any socio-political issue, create awareness about a topic, or just a way of conveying his personal experience. Someone can explore art just for the fun of it and not particularly to have a say about anything.
A renowned American lawyer, educator, and politician, Barbara Jordan defined art in a profound manner suggesting that the arts are a response to our individuality and our nature and help to shape our identity. That pretty much sums up the core of what art is.
What is Art education?
Art education is learning through the use of various art forms to gather and disseminate knowledge about any topic. This type of pedagogy is usually taught by art educators and includes a practical understanding of how to use different tools and techniques to create any piece of artwork.
In addition to that, it also facilitates art appreciation, wherein students learn how to observe any art or craft, and gather historical or evolution-based information about it. Plus form their perspective and understand how to write critically or analytically about art. These classes usually focus on basic types of artistic creation, such as drawing, painting, and sculpture, though specialized classes can have subjects such as pottery, digital art, and mixed multimedia.
Why facilitate Art education in the school curriculum?
- Self-expression – Art can normalize and help in accepting our emotions. In the most unfiltered form of expression, we tend to convey our genuine thoughts. What we feel or think is narrated creatively. Art is not formula based. Multiple dimensions can be pondered upon through art.
Children can develop a way of expressing themselves through this process which they might not be able to do otherwise. Teachers should ensure that the activities are versatile and do not cater to only certain types of creative practices. A person who is interested in painting, might not be open to performance art. Including different mediums in the curriculum is important for art education to become more inclusive and encourage maximum participation.
Moreover, since art is a form of self-expression, educators should also consider empathy and compassion as important aspects while viewing students’ work. It reflects in students’ actions eventually. If a teacher invalidates a student’s expression, he or she might never feel the urge to do it again. In addition to that, it can become a subject of mockery for other peers. Therefore, art educators should see to it that children get to express their selves. Judgment can be constructive and honest.
- Integrating academic topics with arts can ease the learning process – Studies seem to be the least interesting part of going to school for most children. Making space for immersive activities is the only way to make theory and academia interesting. In this digital era, more so. As the attention span of humans is getting lesser with the increased use of technology and the habit of instant gratification, it has become more important to make the learning process innovative.
Breaking complex topics into an artsy process, showcasing a film, or visit to museums can elevate the learning experience. Or just keeping a light-hearted activity of doodling, drawing, painting, etc in breaks amidst the lectures can be quite refreshing.
Children are often scolded or criticized for mimicking or scribbling in their notebooks at the back while the lecture is going on. It is considered a sign of distraction, which it is. Taking note of this common observation, educators can keep some time for such activities in between theoretical discourses.
- Promotes intellectual development – Art education can help our brains expand tremendously. The catch is to be least restrictive while exploring art forms or subjects through art as well. Art is driven by personal discoveries and hence one can limit himself or herself to very rigid or biased notions about art itself. Boxing it to good or bad art, high or low art only narrows down the exploration and our intellectual capacity.
Students should be exposed to all art forms and asked to gather as much as they can.
Art education supports the analysis of work, as mentioned before. Hence it helps in developing rhetorical skills as well which will in turn polish the communication skills of students.
- Sparks innovations – It flourishes imagination. This a much-needed skill for problem-solving and developing something different than what is proposed earlier. Innovation gives space to irrational feelings as well. Logic is not always helpful given human complexity. Children can experiment a lot through art education given the surrounding is nurturing it well.
All the abstract or different styles of painting came up with this quality itself. Whether it is Cubism dadaism or any art movement. They have been adapted into other multimedia art forms as well. It helped humans in watching stories in a different light.
- Amplify motor skills – Art and craft activities focus on sharpening motor skills in children as they experiment with a variety of fabrics, materials, colors, and other things of all shapes and sizes and learn about their surroundings. They use their hands to cut, paste, hold crayons, draw patterns, shape a lump of clay or form a pot pottery class. Or it could be operating a camera to capture an image. In this engagement, they are strengthening their muscles and dexterity and learning to coordinate their eyes and hands.
- Improving social skills – This goes for children who are shy as well. Art could be most of the time very individualistic where a person would prefer to perform or create on his or her own without any collaboration. This is perfectly fine. In this process, a child can be motivated to showcase the art to other students and there could be a healthy discourse around it so that the artist gets an idea of multiple perceptions.
It will benefit him or her to think beyond their setup. Art always has an audience beyond the artist himself or herself. Even if it is one person who views our creation, it is important. That’s what we use the art for. To feel validated about our emotions by someone other than us. It makes us feel isolated and more connected to the world.
Art education is great to have intellectual interactions. Learning from others and sharing their creative thoughts can help build a child’s vocabulary as well.
Being a strong supporter of inventive minds, we want our students to fetch as much knowledge as they can through such engaging activities during schooling at Vidyanchal Highschool. We ensure that our modules integrate the creative process more often and not make it theoretical-based learning. Not just that, we organize art and culture events that can motivate students to showcase their versatile skills. In the end, students should enjoy learning in any way!