At a recent Parent-Teacher meeting, I was asked -what sounded like quite a cynical question by a parent about the need to introduce art and craft to children who may not have the inclination, the need or perhaps even the necessity for it at a later stage.
The question set me on edge and got me thinking of how to explain the need of art and craft in a child’s formative years. These activities offer children endless learning opportunities as they are certainly more likely to remember what they learn when they ‘do’ something. Researchers say that children learn and retain 90% of the information from what they do.
I would like to share two incidents from my art class.
Once when all the children in class were busy with their paintings and completely engrossed in creating their own piece of art, I asked one child about his painting, which I curiously observed was almost entirely painted a dark grey.
‘Would you like to use any more colors?’ I asked
‘Is that all?’
‘Yes!’ He proceeded to explain his painting.
‘This is a boat sailing in the water.’ I tried to look for the boat through the dark grey. ‘It is night. It is dark. It is raining.’
I was struck by the child’s imagination and the simplicity and clarity in communicating it!
Another time, a child, not yet familiar with the names of all the colors despite repeated lessons was in class.Picking up one color at a time, naming it and allowing the child to observe it, I placed all the colors on the table. I asked him to pick up any five colors of his choice for the activity and name them. Guess what? He named them right!
For any teacher it is a moment of joy when a child learns; and learning is more effective when focus develops as you make the activity interesting. In an Art class, it is the child’s imagination that takes shape and the end product, the creation, fills him/her with joy, appreciation and wonder! As parents and teachers should we not further encourage the child by nurturing this skill?
Art is an open ended and unstructured activity, while Craft is a goal oriented, structured activity.
In the craft class, the child’s logic skills come to the fore. It’s a project oriented activity with a clear beginning, middle and end where the child needs to decide
1. What to make
2 What materials required and how to go about collecting them
3 What the base structure will be like
4. How will the finishing touches be like.
Craft work helps the child in planning, sequencing, relating, coordinating and developing a time concept.
Following points summarize how art and craft help:
- Developing cognitive skills
- Stimulating perception
- Developing coordination skills
- Promoting aesthetic sense
- Developing fine motor skills
- Art promotes self-expression
- Art develops imagination
- Art develops creativity
- Shy or children who are not very verbal, often feel more comfortable participating with others when involved in art activities
- Art and craft classes play a vital role in children with special needs
- Art helps children feel good about themselves, grow intellectually, emotionally and socially and thus master the world around them.