Reflection: Art and children

The topic that sparked my interest this week from the DVD is children and art.  In the video The Journey through the life Span (Worth Publishers, 2002), it was stated that a great time to observe a child’s fine motor abilities is during arts and crafts.  It was further stated that young children do not care much about the outcome of their art, but they are likely to enjoy making a large mess. In my daycare program, we have a daily arts and crafts time.  I have always loved art myself, and I enjoy letting the children get messy and create wonderful works of art.  Arts and crafts time is always the favorite part of our day.  I thought that it would be interesting to see what the benefits of arts and crafts are for young children.

Art is an opportunity that helps children in their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development (Herr, 2012). It allows for practice in building fine motor skills through such activities as drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing, and painting. It helps to strengthen hand-eye coordination. Through art, cognitive growth is promoted as children explore, experiment, and learn to problem solve. Art allows children to discover and experiment with color, texture, shape, and size (Herr, 2012).

Art helps children develop socially as they learn to work with one another, appreciate the work of their friends, and share the supplies (Herr, 2012).  Children also discover that there are rules or steps that they must take in order to participate in the activity, such as wearing a smock, storing their supplies, and cleaning up.  Art helps children in their emotional development as they experiment with expressing their emotions.  Their choice of activity may sometimes be an expression of their feelings.  Children may rip paper or pound and squish play dough to take out their frustrations.  Children may express love when they choose to paint their family (Herr, 2012).

As educators, what we believe about art may be influenced by our view of ourselves, of children, and even of art itself (Wright, 2010).  Some teachers believe in child centered art, while others may believe in structured art classes.  While some teachers may value the self-expression of art, others may be outcome oriented.  Certain professionals look at art as a language, believing that a child’s art symbolizes the child’s thoughts.  Art advocates may worry that when children are not taught the skills to use various art tools, the children will be hindered from being able to express themselves through their art.  Due to all the varying positions, some teachers may be hesitant that they can teach art correctly (Wright, 2010).

A healthy approach to art instruction is to aim to help children to think for themselves, rather than to expect them to only follow directions (Wright, 2010).  Educators can inform children that they can communicate through art, while they give them rich experiences with a variety of materials.  Children should be given ample time and materials to explore with drawing, painting, modeling, and such.  A variety of tools such as pencils, markers, and brushes can be given in a variety of thickness, shape, and such.  Children should be given access to a generous supply of colors and be given the ability to make and learn geometrical shapes (Wright, 2010).

With young children, ages 2 to 6, the educator should keep in mind that it is the process of creating art that is important, not the outcome (Herr, 2012).  To encourage young children, adults should not ask the child questions, but should comment on the line, color, or shape that the child is using or state the way that the art makes you feel (erHe

Herr, 2012).  Educators should strive to encourage independence and self-expression. The work of a child is play (Worth Publishers, 2002).

I enjoy art and observe daily my children’s excitement at art time. However, I did not realize that art had so many benefits for children’s developmental growth (Herr, 2012).  The ways that I can encourage healthy development through art is to have ample and varied materials for open ended art.  I can encourage them to be child-directed in their process.  I can encourage them to explore and be careful on how I comment. I can display their work to encourage them (Itzkowitz, 2013). It is great to discover that such a fun and rewarding part of our day not only inspires their creativity and stimulates their imagination, but also promotes healthy development.


Berger, K. S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Dunn, J. (2006). Moral development in early childhood and social interaction in the family. Handbook of moral development, 331-350. Retrieved from

Itzkowitz, S. (2013). Valuing children’s expression: A first attempt at displaying preschool art in an early childhood centre. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2). Retrieved from

Poole, C., Miller, S. A., & Church, E. (2005). How Empathy Develops: Effective Responses to Children Help Set the Foundation for Empathy. Early Childhood Today, 20(2), 21-25. Retrieved from

Worth. (Producer). (2002). The journey through the life span, infants and toddlers [DVD]. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Wright, S. K. (2003). The arts, young children, and learning. Pearson College Division. Retrieved from

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