Introducing Your Child to the Arts: Your Child and the Visual Arts
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
- Pablo Picasso, visual artist
When children explore their world, they rely most on the sense of sight. It is the visual world that gives children information about color, shape, and form, and provides an opportunity to revise ideas based upon visual data gathered from new experiences. The visual world also provides myriad opportunities for language development, as words are associated with visual images. Not only do children learn from visual experience, but they also respond to what they see, often recreating ideas through artistic expression when they color, paint, draw, or sculpt.
The visual arts can be defined as two distinct activities, art making and art appreciation. The first is about expressing ideas while the latter is more about responding to art. Both are important ways of learning and should be supported and valued by parents and teachers.
The joy of making art is apparent in almost every home across the country, illustrated by children’s paintings and drawings proudly displayed on kitchen bulletin boards and refrigerators. In early childhood programs, the art area is often a hub of excitement, providing opportunities for children to explore and express ideas through artistic creations.
Art appreciation begins with the simple yet common practice of reading to
young children. During story time, parents and teachers can help children
develop visual literacy—the ability to interpret the visual world—by
encouraging children to respond to illustrations that engage, enlighten,
and excite them.
By exploring and experiencing the visual world, children have the opportunity to:
- Gain insight from visual experience to construct meaning by observation, reflection, and application of ideas.
- Recognize similarities and differences in the world.
- Attach visual images to words and abstract ideas.
- Grasp relationships in their environment.
- Think creatively while developing skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, and crafting.
- Communicate, represent, and record ideas and feelings related to personal experiences.
- Reinvent the world in their own terms through art expression.
- Develop physical skills as they learn to handle tools and materials associated with creating art.
- Recognize personal preferences related to individual works of art, an early skill in the development of aesthetic awareness and critical judgment.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.
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