Art in A Young Child's Life

Art plays an important role in young children’s lives. It gives them opportunities to experiment creatively with color, line, shape, design, size and texture. 

Art is a way for children to:

  • express themselves
  • plan
  • learn through trial and error; and
  • create something that is uniquely their own 

They develop fine motor skills experimenting with crayons, chalk, markers and different sized brushes. They learn about making choices when choosing colors and they learn about cause and effect when mixing colors. Working with art materials is very exciting for young children and can help develop confidence and self- awareness. 

For a child, it is not the product that is most important but the process. When exploring art with children here are a few things to keep in mind:  

  • Avoid drawing for children. When an adult takes over every time a child is unsure how to draw something, the child eventually learns to give up on their own developing drawing skills. They will learn that when they say “I can’t do it,” someone will step in and do it for them. If a child is having trouble drawing on their own, have them take a look in books for inspiration, or talk the process out with them. 
  • Express interest in children’s art but don’t praise every piece. If everything a child draws or paints is a “good job” that child won’t develop their skills. Plus the product is not what is important to a young child, it is the process in which it happened. Instead of using, “good job” or “I like it,” make detailed remarks about the child’s process, “I see you worked very hard on that” or “You used blue and yellow and made lots of green!” Ask them if “they would like to tell you about their picture” instead of “what did you draw?” this way it is a little more open-ended and can draw stories out of a child instead of a guessing game of what you think they drew. 
  • Quality of materials are important. To really help a child develop an appreciation for art, you must begin by providing quality materials to work with. Demonstrate how to use the materials early on and how to care for them. The materials will last longer and the children will develop a stronger confidence when using them as well as a respect for art materials.

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Summer Langille, M.A, Early Childhood Education Specializing 0-8 Years

Summer has been working with children for almost 15 years. The oldest of four she’s always seen herself as a caregiver. She started off caring for children as a nanny for many years. She received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education specializing in birth to age eight from Long Beach State. She’s worked with infants all the way up to elementary aged children in center-based care, private school care, home-based care, back-up care and afterschool care. She was a lead teacher for an infant program and more recently a two year old/preschool program. She even had a brief stint as a brownie girl scout troop leader. She’s passionate about quality care for children and thinks the environment plays a large role in how a child learns effectively. She loves art, blocks, music, fairy gardens and picture books and wants all caregivers of children to know how important their job is to the children they care for. Summer is currently home with her baby, navigating this new role as Mama. She blogs about her family at www.summerplayshouse.com.