The Top 5 Things Children Gain from Doing Art

Let’s talk about the arts! In this episode of the Art of Homeschooling podcast, I want to share with you the top 5 things children gain from doing art.

The arts are integral to education. And especially to the Waldorf approach and other holistic approaches.

Here’s my elevator pitch for Waldorf education:

Waldorf education is a developmental approach to learning that incorporates rhythm and the arts into all the lessons.

So what do we mean by “incorporating the arts into all the lessons”? And why?!

Children gain so much from the arts, so here are the top 5 things!

But first, a story…

A Story about Why

When my oldest was in high school, he went to our local public school and took studio art in 9th grade. In the spring of that year, his art teacher, Mrs. Hood, phoned me up out of the blue to encourage me to have him continue with studio art the next year. 

Here’s what she said to me: “We need more of the engineering and mathematically-inclined students to keep taking art classes. Because that’s what helps them think outside the box and engage in creative problem-solving. And the world needs more of that.” 

I was so moved by this phone call! This public school teacher went out of her way to call a parent. And, she had no idea my son had been homeschooled through seventh grade, much less with a Waldorf-inspired approach. She just wanted to encourage me and him to continue on with art because it’s so important to our world. 

I was really moved by her reaching out. And also so grateful for all the artistic experiences my kiddos had throughout our years of homeschooling.

Things Children Gain from Doing Art

  1. Creativity
  2. Confidence
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Perseverance
  5. Self-Expression

These invaluable skills and qualities go beyond the boundaries of the lessons alone. In fact, they shape children into well-rounded individuals ready to tackle the challenges of life.

So let’s dive a little deeper into each one of these. What do children gain from engaging in artistic activities, by doing art?

#1: Creativity 

The arts ignite and nurture a child’s imagination, allowing them to explore new ideas, perspectives, and possibilities. Just as the art teacher Mrs. Hood called me to say.

Whether it’s painting, sculpture, music, dancing, or acting, children are encouraged to think outside the box, to question the norms, and to express their unique vision of the world.

The arts foster a sense of creativity that extends far beyond artistic endeavors and into all aspects of life.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 

~Albert Einstein

#2: Confidence

Engaging in artistic activities provides children with a platform to express themselves freely.

Whether it’s drawing in their main lesson books, displaying their artwork, or playing a musical instrument, the arts offer opportunities for children to receive positive feedback, recognition, and see their progress over time. This validation boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem, allowing them to develop a strong sense of identity and belief in their abilities.

#3: Problem Solving

The arts require children to think critically and find innovative solutions.

Whether it’s memorizing a song, drawing and coloring a geometric design, or turning a story into a script for a play, artistic endeavors involve making decisions, experimenting, and adapting. Through this process, children develop problem-solving skills, learn to navigate challenges, overcome obstacles, and think creatively to bring the image they have in their head to life.

#4: Perseverance 

Artistic pursuits often involve trial and error, setbacks, and the need for trying again and continuous practice.

In the face of difficulties, children learn the value of perseverance. Whether it’s perfecting a difficult piano piece or mastering a complex dance routine, choosing colors for their painting or deciding how to capture the essence of a story in a piece of writing, the arts teach children the importance of dedication, hard work, and resilience.

They learn that progress comes with patience and persistence, valuable lessons that extend beyond the artistic realm.

#5: Self-Expression  

Sometimes, words alone cannot capture the depth of human emotions or experiences.

The arts provide children with a powerful means of self-expression beyond verbal communication. Through music, dance, painting, or drama, children can express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a unique and profound way.

This form of nonverbal expression enables them to explore their feelings, process experiences, and develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves
instead of more like everyone else.”

~Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, early childhood educator 

Bring the Lessons to Life with the Arts

In the Waldorf approach, lessons are taught through the arts. Meaning the arts are a vehicle for teaching about literature or history, and even science or math. 

Here are a few ideas for how to bring lessons to life with the arts:

  • Learn songs and poems about the animals that live near you.
  • Paint a picture of a story you’ve told and write a summary to help your child practice reading.
  • Turn a fairy tale or myth into a puppet show.
  • Draw observations of a science experiment before discussing cause and effect.
  • Create a mosaic of a pattern you might find in a Roman villa or palace.

Each of these artistic activities is not only an experience of doing art but also brings so much learning with it. And this is the essence of hands-on experiential learning.

Art and the Brain

Recent scientific studies show how art has a measurable effect on the brain and its structure.

The arts have been part of human culture since the beginning of civilization. Music, painting, and storytelling have always been ways that we make sense of the world. Just like our brains are wired for stories, our brains are also wired for art.

According to Jon Hamilton, author of Building a Better Brain through Music, Dance and Poetry, “when we make art…we increase the brain’s plasticity — its ability to adapt in response to new experiences.”

Hands-on Learning for the Home Educator

If you want to actually see and experience how to teach through the arts, come to the Taproot Teacher Training.

Every year, the first weekend in August, homeschoolers from all over North America gather at a summer camp in Ohio to immerse themselves in the Waldorf approach with hands-on activities, have opportunities to ask questions of experienced homeschoolers, and walk away with new skills and insights.

Taproot is a place to gather with like-minded parents and be part of an amazing support network as well, to reconnect with your WHY, and gain fresh inspiration for homeschooling. You can join in and experience handwork, painting, planning main lesson blocks, making puppets, inner work and so much more plus hiking and laughing and swimming. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Thanks for tuning in today! Until next time, keep embracing the arts!

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