The benefits of art education have myriad advantages to a child’s growth, while art therapy is known to have many benefits for children, namely academic, cognitive, personal, social and civil advantages.
While the creative exercise not only nurtures a sense of community it also creates a place of safety for kids to enjoy, and children get to learn from one another as they engage with themselves and their environment.
And of course, by engaging with the children and their art, you teach them one of the most valuable lessons in the art world: cultivating self-respect for their creations as well as the importance of appreciating another’s work and ideas.
Liesl Hartman, Head of the Centre for Art Education at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town explained to Parent24 that art and art education is an important part of a child's development and should be part of their routine because, in this world of lots of visual communication, it allows children over time to become more critical about the visual information that they see and that they take in.
"It's about improving a child's ability to observe the world in a particular way and to respond to it. It improves their perceptual skills, their ability to listen and communicate, especially when the art activity involves group work or communicating with others in a similar activity," she says.
"It's about good decision-making capacity," she adds. "It's also about problem solving. It's about developing the whole child in really fundamental ways."
Hartman explains that in today's world where so much is about online learning, the actual physical and tactile quality of what is experienced through an art activity is essential, because it's about developing those senses and having a sense of what it means to live in a sensory world and not just in a virtual or digital world.
"I think good art education is about developing the whole child and creating an environment that is healthy and safe, where young people feel engaged and supported and challenged. It must be a space of pure enjoyment and fun," she stresses.
"So much of children's education is about achievement and reaching and goals and internalising content and information. But art education is a space in which you can have that moment and enjoy and think and explore."
Art to teach
Baz-Art art therapist teacher Mark Jeneker uses art to teach discipline, acceptance, engagement, the value of effort and life skills to the kids and has noticed a striking difference in the children's mannerism, life and art skills and enjoyment.
"Most of them enjoy working with paint. I think it's because they’re allowed to get messy as they love their hands being full of paint," he explains.
Baz-Art’s SA Artist Programme currently explores art education and therapy with very eager kids from disadvantaged communities.
"The SA Artist Programme was designed for kids to learn life skills through art. And since art isn’t often considered a real subject for school we decided that teaching ethics, aspirations, values, and even mathematics would give art the credibility that it needs" says Baz-Art co-founder, Alexandre Tilmans.
A child’s imagination gets triggered by thinking, seeing new possibilities and realising aspirations for oneself.
"Self-development is stimulated through art as it allows children to envision and imagine. Children learn to plan and do problem-solving as well as self-love, appreciation and self-expression," says art lecturer at Ruth Prowse School of Art, Mernette Swartz.
Teaching children the importance of self-expression was a big focus for this special project and ultimately discovering artists that would have been lost.
Their imaginations run wild
Some of the most important art techniques for a child to practice is to get their imagination going. Swartz says a good starting point for anyone looking to get creative is to enable curiosity of the imagination.
"Once you allow your imagination to run wild, anything will seem do-able and there will be a driving force to try new things. Other great techniques include doodling, drawing, painting, cutting, sticking and colouring. Use whatever you have available and just keep going," she explains.
'Free' in their creations
Questions get raised through art, and it also gives a voice to those who might not be heard otherwise.
"To have something you created – you learn self-respect for your creations as well as the importance of honouring other artists’ ideas and work, which can lead to collaboration between people, cultures, ideas and environments."
"You are making others happy through what you create. You learn to find beauty in everyday life and have the privilege to give that back through visual creations," she says.
"Children learn to pour their heart and soul into something they believe in. And lastly, they get to be ‘free’ in their creations, learning to trust themselves and to endure in the process of learning a new skill."
Helpful when resources are limited
Jeneker explains "Children learning to use their imagination becomes especially helpful when resources are limited. It helps children become more flexible as well as to think abstractly – both qualities that assist in problem-solving and reasoning."
"Art therapy also catalyses personal emotional development by teaching one to challenge assumptions," he adds.
Other benefits include enhancing skills as diverse as reading proficiency, verbal memory, language and leadership, while the practice can also activate and enhance other skills as diverse as reading proficiency, verbal memory, language and leadership.
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