Six ways art and craft helps children learn


1. Enables brain development

Children make millions of new brain connections (called ‘synapses’) in early childhood as they make sense of the world. Having lots of opportunity to be creative helps link all the different parts of their brains and bodies.

Try this: Take some art supplies outdoors to the garden, the park or the woods. Let your little ones use items from nature to get creative, and enjoy a whole sensory experience (without worrying about mess in the house!).


2. Creates a shared learning experience

Getting crafty or enjoying art and music with your child can be a great shared experience. Learning together helps your child feel that you’re taking them seriously – that you ‘get’ they’re not just messing around when they play. This really builds their self-esteem.

Try this: Visit an art gallery or a museum together. Most art galleries and museums have family-friendly facilities and staff who are happy to answer any questions you might have. Don’t set expectations too high - it doesn’t matter if you only see a tiny part of the gallery - you can always save the rest for another day.


3. Helps children express themselves.

Being creative provides a way for children to show you what’s really important to them right now, even if they don’t quite have the words to tell you.

Try this: When they’re drawing or making art, encourage your child to explain their creative decisions to you. Ask things like where the line in their picture is going to, or why the person they've drawn is smiling. This technique is called ‘scaffolding’ and helps children feel listened to. It’s also a great way to develop their vocabulary.


4. Unlocks problem-solving skills

Being creative early in life can make you more resourceful and resilient when you encounter obstacles as an adult. Making or painting their wildest ideas teaches children to imagine possible solutions and find different ways to approach problems, just like when Topsy and Vinda made this ace marble run out of the cardboard recycling! 

Try this: Give your little ones a cardboard box and some art supplies and let their imaginations run wild. Try not to get hung up on trying to make a recognisable ‘thing’ - you might be surprised how different the finished product is from the original idea!


5. Builds confidence

Making art is a safe way to discover that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that getting things ‘wrong’ can lead to a whole new idea. It gives little ones the confidence to experiment and take risks.

Try this: Think about how you talk to your child while they’re making art. Observe and encourage, saying things like “I like how squiggly you’ve made the person’s hair”. Try not to speak negatively about your own creative ability, as little ones will pick up on that.


6. Develops math skills

Arty activities like connecting shapes or making patterns tap into the same parts of the brain we use for more complex problem-solving later - in maths, for example. Helping your toddler get creative now could really benefit them in the long term.

Try this: Cut out some paper shapes and use them together to create different images, just like this Olobob Top train. Set them challenges (like making a bridge, a dog or a train), or encourage them to come up with their own creations! Find more activities to help with maths here.

Enjoyed this article? Find out about how music can help children’s brains develop.

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