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Little Van Gough: The Surprising Benefits Children Gain from Learning about Art

Art has often been cast aside in many public school systems as an extracurricular activity that receives little funding. However, there are many benefits to exercising the mind through the creation of art, as well as learning about its history. Art encapsulates the imprints left behind by the greatest creators of centuries past. It at provides a deep, personal look into our history that mere facts in a textbook cannot. There have been studies conducted on the way art influences the developing minds of children, and here are five surprising benefits that children gain from learning about art. Take a look:

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Rasus Schmidt

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Rasus Schmidt

Fine-Tuned Focus

Children are full of energy, and those who have ADHD or difficulties with concentration can learn how to focus on one task at a time through art. Art projects are time consuming and one assignment can take several class periods to complete. Children learn to focus on the task at hand, direct their attention completely onto one project and tune out distractions. Some have even enrolled their children in art therapy classes in order to help with the negative effects of attention-deficit issues.

Self-Expression and Nonverbal Communication

Even when given the exact same prompt in an art class, children will each create unique pieces that are reflective of their individual thoughts and emotions. Art allows children to express themselves as well as emotions that they may not even know how to verbalize. When children are given loose instructions and fewer boundaries, they can express their ideas, preferences, and personality in their projects—providing an outlet for non-verbal communication.

How to Practice Patience

Growing up in a world where almost anything they want can be obtained within a few clicks of a button or swipes on a screen, today’s children have the unfortunate possibility of being our most impatient generation yet. Art, however, teaches them that many things in life take time and dedication to complete. Frequent practice of art can help children put in the time and effort to create something with their own hands. 

Over time they will learn to apply this patience to other aspects of their lives such as outside extracurricular activities and schoolwork.

The Value of Hard Work

This is a lesson that many people don’t learn well into adulthood, when the fruits of their studies and labor finally begin to pay off in their careers. Children who commit to art or other projects and are not permitted to quit even when the task at hand becomes more demanding than fun, have been proven to exhibit further effort in future endeavors, as the end result trigger the reward system in their brain.

Improved Emotional Intelligence

Generally, basic schoolwork does not promote the type of social skills necessary to have healthy relationships and exceed in the future work environment. The arts, however, encourage children to express themselves. Performances arts in particular, such as drama, have been proven to encourage teamwork, cooperation, and empathy among students and increase their social skills as well as their ability to effectively communicate their feelings with others.

While many don’t realize the value of art in our society, it is becoming increasingly important for our youth to gain an education about the principles and history of art. As funding continues to diminish for art programs, it is vital that we strive to preserve art in elementary schools, middle schools, and even high schools. With all the benefits that children gain from learning about art, we are hard-pressed to find good reasons to do away with art programs. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at the University of Florida who provide a master’s in art education.

Tim Esterdahl

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