Introducing Art to Your Child

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Learning and exploring the world through art (drawing and painting) is a wonderful thing. Especially for children, learning art is greatly helpful. As we have discussed a lot in many of our articles before, art (drawing and painting) has many great benefits for children. These benefits are mental and physical.

But the question is, when to introduce your child to art and when to stop? Some parents think that focusing too much on art can distract a child from their mainstream education and career paths and that time and money spent on art are actually not so worthy. Some parents also have an attitude that unless it’s profitable or has a monetary gain, doing art is not useful.

Is this all true and how and when a child should be introduced to art?

Children understand art before they understand letters and numbers

It is said that children before they learn to speak, read and write, learn to draw and paint. Before they learn numbers and letters, they explore the world through art. This is because art is a language and a mode of expression and understanding. Research also says that children, before they get familiar with writing tools, languages, numbers and even before they would speak, they respond to colours, shapes and light. Children also recognize colours and shapes and are able to respond to them from infancy such as 18 months, which is an age that they do not recognise numbers, letters and sounds.

When should a child learn art?

As explained above, a child could understand and respond to colour, shapes and light at a very early age as 18 months.

This doesn’t mean that a child of 18 months can draw and paint. But a child above one year can express themselves through colours and shapes. So, it is appropriate to introduce colouring and drawing materials for a child as young as 15 months and above. Parents should never focus on the product of children’s arts, but only on the process and their development.

Parents should make sure the art materials are specifically made for children, check the age limits and make sure they are safe.

A child artist prodigy will display her or his talents while the child is still below the age of ten and parents should pay close attention to the artwork of their children during these ages. If the child displays extraordinary artistic talents, it is advisable to take notice of them and encourage the child and also help the child to develop their career paths in arts.

Some parents, if the child may not display an interest in art at an early age, tend to not encourage the child to do art. But it is always advisable to introduce your child to art materials (drawing books, drawing materials such as pencils, pastels and paint) even though you think the child may not be interested. Some children are late learners and may develop an interest later in their life.

Also, children who find it difficult to learn letters and words may find it easy to learn and understand colours and shapes. This is not a reason to be worried. Just as the majority learn and express through letters and numbers, some may learn and express through colours and shapes. Parents should understand this and be patient with children who have difficulty learning letters and numbers. Instead of forcing and further frustrating the child who finds it difficult to learn letters and numbers, parents can introduce them to learn colours and shapes. Children who have difficulties in learning letters and numbers can be taught them through art.

Should a child be ‘gifted’ to learn art?

The question to this answer is, no!

Learning art is not always to be a professional artist. It is a hobby and anyone can learn the art and have fun with colours and shapes. Some have a special talent, an art skill from birth and they may pursue a career or higher studies in art. The rest, continue as a mode of relaxation and fun.

But a lot of people think that, unless a child displays skill in the art, they don’t have to learn the art. This is because they only see art as a career and education option, but not as a lifestyle, as a hobby and as a way of exploring and enjoying life.

Therefore, it is advisable to introduce art to your child and encourage them to learn the art as long as they do not want to learn it anymore.

When to stop?

Well, the answer to this question is, never! There is no need to forcefully stop your child from learning or practising art. Let them do so as long as they wish to do so. Parents should never think that art will distract children from their main studies or career paths. The truth is that doing art as a hobby is great and extremely beneficial. It is therapeutic and has many mental and physical benefits. It also can be a side career for them one day, creating an extra income and also bringing them fame and appreciation from society for their talents.

By Ama H.Vanniarachchy