Having a space where kids can create is extremely important for their development, but don’t underestimate starting the process early. Children as young as 12 months can hold a crayon and start to scribble with it, though they will certainly do a fair amount of tasting the crayon as well (yum!). There are several benefits to starting art activities like drawing with crayons early in a child’s life, but here are just a few things that you will be helping your little one discover and develop:
Creativity: Ok, I know–obviously we are aiding in the development of creative expression by creating a space that is specifically for our little ones and their art projects. Giving them an outlet to create sparks their imagination in a way that none of their other toys do (bonus: no batteries required for art supplies!). It goes without saying that art activities help with writing and, in turn, reading skills, but this creativity also helps boost verbal skills too! When children get excited about their artwork, they can’t stop “talking” about what they are doing, no matter how young they are.
Independence: When you set up a space in your home for art activities, you also are setting up a place where your child can work on his own, often for long periods of time. Our children are so much more capable than what we give them credit for. Have some crayons, tissue paper, construction paper, and safety scissors (for the older ones) that are easily accessible, and just watch them explore these materials on their own. They instinctively have the desire and ability to create, and they will do it independently with the right encouragement from their parents. Our art table is set up in the kitchen, which makes it very convenient to keep my little one occupied while trying to get dinner on the table. She is perfectly happy to sit most days and work on her own, but sometimes I am invited to join her–an invitation that I never turn down!
Problem-solving: Creating art presents a young mind with a “problem” that can be solved in any number of ways. There is no right or wrong way to approach a blank canvas (or, for my 22-month-old, a piece of construction paper). As parents, if we can suppress the urge to show them what to do and how to do it, we are amazed at what these little minds can deduce from a few simple art supplies. The key is to take a backseat and be an observer, verbalizing what your child is doing instead of telling her what she should be doing. Try this approach, and you will be rewarded. Bonus: you’re actually helping your toddler develop skills she will need for math classes down the road!
Your art space doesn’t need to be anything fancy at all…in fact, I would discourage you from making it too “nice” because it will be untidy sometimes if you really are taking a backseat to your toddler’s explorations. Just a few inexpensive items like crayons, colored paper, white paper, and stickers, and a table and chair will keep her happy and entertained for a while. Oh, and she’ll be learning, too, without even knowing it! Which is the best reason to make a space for art in your (home)life.
At Toddler Art Nola, we tap into all of these skills at our weekly classes with the added benefit of working together in a group environment and socializing with other toddlers. For more information about hands-on art exploration or our schedule of classes in New Orleans, email firstname.lastname@example.org.