Embrace all the mess your little ones make with his art and let his creativity and imagination run free.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
Creativity and curiosity are at their peak when children are in their toddlerhood, and the best way to really let your little ones indulge in their creativity and curiosity is through art.
Art provides opportunities for toddlers to explore and learn about their environment and helps them expand their imagination by making use of all their senses. Not only does art promote the expansion of creative minds, it also helps in the physical, social and emotional development of toddlers.
Let’s see what exactly toddlers gain from their playtime with art.
The ability to visualise is an important skill in toddlers’ development as it helps them relate words to images. Art can be a great tool to improve this skill in your little ones, through activities such as drawing.
“During drawing, the child is required to pay attention to form outer and inner lines, and details of the subject matter. This process allows the child to remember visual details. When this is done regularly, it helps the child to visually associate form or subject matters to ideas,” says Toh Menghua, head of school at Artgrain.
Toh further explains how improving the visualisation process through art can promote the imagination of toddlers. “As a child develops the wealth of ‘visual vocabulary’, the ability to visualise and imagine will be greatly strengthened. When an abstract idea or word is spoken, the child will be able to associate colours, details, texture, etc. to the idea or word.”
At their young age, toddlers are exploring a myriad of new things in their surroundings. They are slowly building their basic knowledge of the environment like names of different animals, types of vehicles and more.
Art enriches this learning process even more because it allows toddlers to carefully observe everything around them.
“A child’s organic learning – learning from the surroundings and any cultural settings – will be enhanced because learning of art involves not only learning to draw and to paint. It is fundamentally developing the ability to observe,” explains Toh.
Toh likens the activity of observational drawing in art to critical reading in language learning. “It deepens the child’s experiences through the process of seeing. For example, each tree has its own unique details and visual information. Hence, this approach in art learning of paying attention to details develops [a child’s] eye for details.”
When toddlers engage in art, they are most likely not focused on producing a specific result out of their artwork. Think about how many times you have seen your own little one just having a ball smearing different paint colours together, or scribbling away without actually drawing anything specific. It might seem like they are just making a mess to you, but mess-making is precisely how toddlers learn.
“Art is interesting in that it provides the materials, space and time for children to continue their learning, by experimenting and exploring sensorially (with paint, objects, tools, etc.), to make a mess (splashing, dripping, smearing, mixing colours), in order to then discover how things work (e.g. how yellow and green placed side by side is like, as opposed to being mixed into a single colour), and how they have the ability to control that (by putting the colours side by side, and not follow their initial impulse to mix colours),” says Weng Pixin, art facilitator for Studio Why Not and art therapist for The Open Centre.
Weng also emphasises on parents playing a supportive role during this mess-making phase of their children’s development. “For example, instead of directing the child to not create muddy-looking paintings, let the child lead the way and support them by encouraging their making process.”
Supporting your little ones in their art activities goes a long way towards building their self-esteem.
Don’t focus on the outcome of their artwork; the purpose of art for toddlers is not seeing if they can create beautiful masterpieces.
“There are no concrete outcomes for this young group besides allowing them to joyfully explore all the tools we give them. Art encourages them to organically express themselves and have fun while doing it,” says Jealina Chiang, founder, owner and educator of Rush-Me-Not Art Studio Pte Ltd.
Plus, your little ones are probably not focused on the result of their artwork either, so you shouldn’t be too. “Unlike older children, most toddlers are not self-conscious about what they are doing or concerned about perfection. This is why playtime art is an important element to all areas of a toddler’s thriving development. It is a nurturing tool for toddlers to realise, “I can!” says Chiang.