Children are born with the potential to create stories, sing, dance, draw, paint, sculpt and play music. As the young child explores and plays within an art form, he/she is usually fully engaged and having a wonderful time. Yet there is so much more going on.
Artistic experiences help young brains grow, assist in learning and provide children with valuable life skills. The arts are a vital aspect of being human, and play a crucial role in healthy growth and development.
The developing brain requires sensory stimulation to grow neural connections and build neural pathways. The arts are multi sensory experiences and provide the young brain with enriched sensory stimulation. Furthermore, artistic experiences enhance the development and integration of both hemispheres of the brain. These experiences also develop the skills of critical thinking, listening and observation.
As children are engaged in the arts they are cultivating all of the multiple intelligences. Children develop linguistic intelligence as they sing, act, tell and make up stories. The patterns and sequences in dance and music develop logical-mathematical intelligence. Visual art develops spatial intelligence and dancing develops kinesthetic intelligence. The collaborative aspect of the performing arts nurtures interpersonal intelligence – trust, respect and co-operation. Intrapersonal intelligence – self awareness, self confidence, self respect and self esteem – is nurtured through all of the arts.
The arts provide children with a variety of ways to process information, make cognitive connections and reflect back to us what they are learning and comprehending. In this way children make discoveries about themselves, their environment and other people.
The arts give children access to their creative voice so they can express their thoughts and ideas in their own unique way. Artistic expression also provides children with a variety of methods to express their feelings and emotions. I believe that children who have learned how to do this will be less likely to “act out” or engage in “at risk” behavior. Such children will have learned how to speak up for themselves and release their emotions in positive ways. These are all valuable skills that children can use throughout their lives.
The arts can give our children a lifetime of pleasure and enjoyment. Providing young children with plenty of opportunities to express themselves through an artform puts them on the path to a healthy mind, healthy body and healthy spirit.