What Are The Benefits of Arts Education for Kids?

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When you want your child to become a well-rounded adult, you’ll need them to get high-quality education in the arts.

As an adult looking at the prospect of arts education from the outside, however, you might find that it’s challenging to identify specific benefits which such an education can provide.

In this article, we’ll bring you up to speed on what art education is as well as what it can do to help your child become a competent and well-adjusted adult.

When you’re done reading, you’ll understand what art education can do for your child, and you’ll also have a few ideas about where you might start with their education.

What Counts As Art Education?

Art education has several dimensions. Each dimension serves to teach your child about a different facet of art, whether that means teaching them how to produce art or how to consume it effectively. In summary, the various dimensions of art education may include:

  • Learning about what constitutes art and what does not
  • Learning how to paint, sculpt, play an instrument, or perform another artistic technique
  • Learning how to interpret art produced by others
  • Learning how to appreciate fine art
  • Learning about art history
  • Learning how to critique art and how to accept criticism in return

This means that art education can encompass a wide variety of classes, activities, and other educational experiences. You’ll need to assess which element of art education you want your child to start working on first.

Most parents tend to want their child to dive into the artistic skill-building portion of their art education right away. In other words, if you’re interested in sending your child to a painting or drawing class, you’re primarily engaged in the technical skills which produce artwork.

While focusing on developing the technical skills which are necessary to produce beautiful works of art is one part of your child’s art education, it cannot be the only part.

Imagine how poorly prepared you would be if you were a baseball player who practiced all of the physical movements necessary to play a game of baseball without ever learning about the rules of the game or the context in which you need to make decisions to win.

Thus, arts education cannot be unidimensional. Sending your child to a painting class can be one component of their arts education curriculum, but if it is the only part, your child will not be an outstanding artist whatsoever.

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In contrast, if you provide your child with a well-rounded education in the arts, they will subsequently become more well-rounded themselves. This applies both in terms of their artistic abilities as well as their holistic capabilities as a person.

If you’re not convinced that art education is beneficial; however, it may be worth noting that art education is far more profound than technical skill-building alone. Children who get an in-depth education in the arts can do more than create pretty pictures.

They can interpret the communications of others more comprehensively in comparison to people who did not have an arts education. In other words, becoming educated about the context and symbolism in the art can be a great way to improve your child’s ability to think critically.

What Doesn’t Count As Arts Education?

In the same vein, not all somewhat artistic activities can be considered as arts education. Specifically, many of the creative activities which children perform in preschool or kindergarten are not arts education.

Unstructured play with clay or fingerpaint is not education because it is not directed toward cultivating any specific capability.

Thus, while early childhood art activity may help to prepare your child for their real art education, it is not a substitute unless it provides them with an actionable set of goals to reach.

How Does Art Education Help Kids Flourish?

Now that you understand the scope and depth of art education, it’s time to delve into the benefits of art knowledge so that you will know how to make your child as well-rounded as possible.

Improving Creative Self-Expression

A good education in the arts will help your child to improve their ability to express themselves creatively. Creative self-expression is the process of using artistic skills to process emotions and communicate thoughts to others in modalities other than words.

Imagine for a moment the Picasso painting called Guernica. A glance at the history of the picture shows that Picasso felt intense suffering when he observed the destruction of the Spanish Civil War.

While it might have been possible for Picasso to express the deep emotions he felt by writing them down, it is unlikely that this would have adequately captured what he was feeling.

Instead, Picasso’s choice of a visual media allowed him to share his horrors viscerally, thereby providing him with an expressive outlet which was more potent than words.

Thankfully, your children are unlikely to produce anything as intense as a Picasso painting. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to improve their self-expression by learning about how to make art, however.

Arts education provides children with an outlet for their desire to create things while also providing them with a constructive and safe outlet for their emotions.

Rather than bottling up their desire to create things and express themselves, children who get a good education in the arts can channel their psychic forces into beautiful works.

While it is unclear whether such channeling of emotions is healthier than alternative methods of diffusing them, the fact of the matter is that producing art helps your child to process their relationship with the world in a new way.

For children with emotional challenges, the arts can also be an excellent way to feel good while dealing with difficult subjects. The joy of creating something new often allows children to drop many of their defenses, which might otherwise prevent them from engaging with difficult material.

Finally, an education in the arts helps children to see the field of possibilities for self-expression. Many children may not necessarily understand how they might want to express themselves or to communicate ideas about their identity to others.

With the help of a background in the arts, however, children will get many ideas about the issues people want to express as well as ideas about how to show them.

Improving Hand-Eye Coordination

An arts education is a great way to enhance your child’s hand-eye coordination. Implementing most artistic ideas will require careful application of motor force to the appropriate tools, which means that your child will need to coordinate carefully.

Arts education is an excellent platform for teaching your child why improving their hand-eye coordination is valuable. When they first stand at the easel or sit at the pottery wheel, your child will probably not be able to make their idea come to reality in perfect accuracy.

Instead, new artists are likely to be hampered by their poor hand-eye coordination and weak grasp of the techniques necessary to make their imaginations come to life.

The paintbrush will be fumbled, the pencil will break, and the finger may apply too much paint the first few times around. With each new attempt, however, your child will become more competent.

Eventually, your child will understand which elements of their technique need the most work. Then, they’ll be able to practice nailing the gentle brush strokes or delicate pencil shading which they’ve seen in their mind’s eye all along.

Soon enough, their hand-eye coordination will have improved enough to keep up with their imagination. At that point, their vision may expand to match their body’s new capabilities.

The beauty of arts education is that building hand-eye coordination is a necessary precursor, guaranteed results, and also a primary enabler of your child developing a love for creating art.

Every failure will build a desire to succeed next time around. Every success will create a new horizon for what your child wants to produce. All the while, your child will be getting more beautiful and more excellent control over their hand concerning what their eye is seeing.

Improving Interpretation

Children interpret the world around them using their senses and also the cognitive lenses which they learn from adults and their surroundings.

Many of these cognitive lenses are shaped by their education as well. When your child gets a good education in the arts, they will learn how to interpret the communications of others in a more profound and more holistic way than they might otherwise.

Consider a painting like Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Visually, there are a lot of elements which may draw your eye, like the whiteness of the tunic in the man at the forefront or the large drum on the right side of the picture.

As an adult, you can probably interpret the situation in the painting relatively quickly based on the visuals and title. The picture depicts the rallying of a group of militiamen for some unspecified purpose.

You can probably also place the painting as depicting an event which occurred before the modern era as a result of the clothing and tools which the people in the picture are wearing or holding.

Stop for a moment and consider how you came to these conclusions so quickly, however. To arrive at an underlying narrative describing the painting, you needed to interpret a vast amount of information and produce a new story.

First, you had to recognize that the figures in the painting are not calm. Furthermore, you needed to interpret the title of the picture and compare it to the visual cues and symbolism on the canvas.

For instance, the Night Watch painting would have an entirely different meaning if the subjects were all snoozing quietly on the floor.

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It’s important to remember that children do not necessarily have the context that you have as an adult, however.

If you showed the same painting to a child, they might not have any idea about the story being depicted. A child probably wouldn’t understand that the drummer shows the viewer the impression of action and also evokes imagery of war.

Likewise, a child might not realize the purpose of a night watch group. In other words, the painting would be missing nearly all of its semantic content if your child did not have a good education in the arts.

When your child gets an education in the arts, they learn how to extrapolate meaning beyond that which is evident to their senses. Rather than seeing a drum, a child with an art education could identify that drums are symbols which are associated with war or conflict.

Subsequently, their ability to interpret the full package of information in an intricate painting like the Night Watch will be much higher than a child who wasn’t educated.

Improving Imagination

Many children have active imaginations independent of any education in the arts. For many of these children, however, the imagination is not a valid tool for their mind, but rather a play activity which isn’t necessarily productive.

This is not the case when your child has an education in the arts. When children are educated in the arts, they learn that their imagination is not merely something that is fun to play within the schoolyard.

Instead, an arts education makes children realize that their imagination is a way of viewing possible realities, some of which can be brought to life with their intentional artistic efforts.

By exposing your child to art produced by other people and encouraging them to make art for themselves, you’ll be helping your child to envision possibilities as things which can be made real with their effort.

Aside from being an immensely positive and life-affirming lesson for your child to learn, they’ll also appreciate that producing artwork is a process that requires both effort and attention.

When your child’s imagination is strengthened by their arts education and their minds are empowered to discover that which is the most meaningful to them, they’ll be more grounded in their life as a result.

Furthermore, most creative children will benefit from the imagination-strengthening effects of art education more than others.

By throwing fuel onto the raging fire of their creativity, they will learn that having a healthy imagination is not a liability, as their teachers might unintentionally make them think.

Improving Visual Acuity

Visual acuity refers to the ability to use your eyes to discriminate fine details in your environment. In other words, visual acuity is one of the essential skills that we use every day without even thinking about.

Most children have sharp visual acuity, which slowly atrophies over the course of their life. It’s important to remember that eyesight is not the same thing as visual acuity, however.

Instead, as people age, they become more comfortable with investing lower amounts of effort into scrutinizing their environment. Thus, independent of eyesight getting worse, people become visually lazy and do not put in the effort to appreciate what their eyes show them fully.

If you start your child on education in the arts and maintain it through their childhood, they’ll have better visual acuity than their peers as a result.

Children with better visual acuity can understand their environment more rapidly, appreciate visual arts more deeply, and generally navigate the world with a higher level of sensitivity than people with low visual acuity.

It may still be unclear to you how an education in the arts can build visual acuity in your child, however. The answer is simple: a comprehensive education in the arts will require your child to become very efficient at intensely scrutinizing their visual field.

Arts education requires children to examine many pieces of art as well as the art which they produce. In other words, arts education typically trains your child’s eyes to work in close cooperation with your child’s mind.

While this close coordination takes a lot of effort to perform at first, your child will become accustomed to paying careful attention to what they see if they get an education in the arts.

It’s also true that children with higher visual acuity are typically more competent at producing visual arts than the children who are not — but that’s an effect of working hard at the arts for an extended period, not the cause.

Improving Self Esteem

When your child produces art, they create something which is wholly theirs. They can then judge how effectively the implementation of their imagination was in light of the final result. Whether or not the outside world likes what they produced is a different matter.

In short, an arts education means that your child will be competent to differentiate between the standards that they set for themselves and the judgments which are rendered onto them by the rest of the world.

Learning how to compartmentalize these two concepts is intensely useful for children because it helps them to build self-esteem that is based on their actions rather than the reactions of others.

Building self-esteem based on the reactions of others is inevitable to some extent, but it’s best to try to minimize that extent as much as possible. The judgments of others are capricious, uncontrollable, and fundamentally external to the context of your child’s life.

While an arts education won’t make it such that your child is utterly immune to the judgments of others, it will teach them that the decisions of others are only one perspective on their self-worth.

Furthermore, an arts education will teach your child that self-worth originates from within. Meeting the standards that they set for themselves and adequately implementing their artistic vision is exceptionally life-affirming for your child.

Thus, when you help your child to explore the arts, you are helping them to value themselves and to value their creations as extensions of their creativity into the physical world.

Importantly, your child will learn to view their work in the context of their prior efforts, providing them with an upward trajectory of complexity and effective implementation which they can follow for their entire career.

Building the essential bravery to create something and expose it to the outside world is also a major self-esteem booster.

Improving Resilience to Criticism

An essential part of art education is critiquing the works of others and accepting their critiques of your work.

Most children do not have very much experience with accepting criticism in a meaningful way. While children are frequently corrected by their teachers, friends, and parents, they typically don’t invest their creative energies into something which is subsequently the focus of intense scrutiny.

Instead, the school system promotes children to produce work that checks off predetermined boxes without inviting any real engagement. The initial effort for children is to meet the expectations of their teachers rather than to create something new or valuable.

A good education in the arts will thus expose children to the more profound challenge of having someone critique their creative output without any predefined rubric.

While children can quickly take action in response to corrections offered by teachers at school, accepting a critique of their art is a different matter altogether.

Children invest a lot of emotional energy into their creative works, and they may view their creations as extensions of themselves. Put differently; art is usually intensely personal. Having artwork critiqued may seem like a process of being personally attacked for your child.

Handling criticism gracefully thus requires a lot of personal growth for most people — whether or not they are children.

When your child hears a critique of their creative work, they have a few options. First, they could reject the analysis outright in a defensive reaction. If the review is stated too bluntly, this is the most likely outcome, at least at the start of a child’s art education.

The second option is that the child may internalize the critique and think less of themselves or feel sad. Thankfully, this is far less likely when the child is getting their art critiqued in the context of an arts education.

Rather than chastising the child in the way that teachers might when they get something wrong, a critique of a child’s art is not uniformly negative, nor is it objective. Therefore, your child’s arts education will help them to process the idea that feedback is not something to fear.

The final possibility of receiving a critique is the most promising.

When your child hears a well-constructed critique of their art, they may even get a new idea for the direction of the piece or a followup piece.

In other words, critiques of art are usually more constructive than what your child is accustomed to hearing.

This means that if you deprive your child of education in the arts, you may be depriving them of an independent point of view which can place the comments of observers into their appropriate context.

Improving Delivery of Critiques

An active arts education is not complete if your child does not know how to deliver a good critique.

Delivering good critiques is an essential result of art education because it helps your child to critique their work while also helping them to improve their communications skills. Children who can deliver criticism gracefully will remain friends with the people whose work they critique.

On the other hand, children who deliver blunt or malformed critiques will become resented by their classmates. They will also have a diminished ability to critique themselves in a healthy fashion and may have lower self-esteem as a result.

In essence, art education channels your child’s creativity such that they can use it to interpret the work in front of them and then respond to it meaningfully and constructively.

Children with an excellent education in the arts will be ready to use tact when it is necessary. They’ll also understand when they can go lighter on themselves when something they make doesn’t turn out exactly in the way that they desired.

Becoming a competent judge of other people’s work is a skill that your child will use for their entire life after they develop it during their arts education.

If your child doesn’t learn how to isolate the relevant elements for critique and then deliver their evaluations correctly; however, they will likely struggle in many of their interactions.

Setting Your Child On The Path of Art

Your child’s art education has the potential to be massively beneficial for them. The only thing left to do is to develop a curriculum for them to follow.

Remember to assess your child’s art interested before starting them on an art education routine. Furthermore, don’t forget that your child may not be artistically inclined — but even if they aren’t, they still need a primary education in the arts if you want them to be well-rounded.

In conclusion, education in the arts is essential for all children because of how much it can enrich their lives. Be your child’s biggest ally in their arts education, and remember that everything your child creates will seem beautiful to your eyes.

Brett Gordon

The brains behind The Toy Report. Having clocked tons of time in toys research and online resource development, today, Brett is dedicated to making The Toy Report a trusted space in the world of toy reviews and recommendations.