This is what art does for children

kids classesThe best. That’s what we all want for our children. The best? What does that even mean? Talk about putting a ton of pressure on ourselves, right? When my daughter was born, I remember thinking “I want to do everything I can to make sure she has the best…” Now, between work, school, drop off and pick up, story time and bath time, birthday parties and more – I keep thinking “Let me just get through the day!” Of course I still want to do everything I can to help my daughter develop, so I recently put her in sports so she’s active and, of course, I read with her every chance I get. She started Pre-K this year so we’ve got the social part covered. What else? How can I teach her patience, improve her hand-eye coordination, and work on her self-confidence, amongst other things? How many activities should I put this kid in?

Luckily, there’s one that hits all of the markers mentioned… and it’s simple: ART.

We, as adults, can sometimes get so lost in our grown up world of bills and responsibilities, that we forget how important it is to be fun and creative! We forget what it feels like to lose ourselves in a craft or a painting. My job is just that, Art. I teach at the West Island Creative Arts Center and I’ve been doing it all my life.
I grew up in the studio, painting before I could walk. Painting and art are such a huge part of my life; I can’t imagine it not being a part of someone else’s. I certainly can’t imagine it not being a part of my daughter’s life either.

growin up in the studio

Growing up in the art studio

Why art for children?

Did you know studies have shown art has the ability to enhance math, science, and even language learning.

It allows children to exercise their creativity and use this in critical thinking, problem solving and other forms of education. Art also allows children to be expressive in a form that doesn’t involve words. Children need a creative outlet. I’ve watched children walk in, reserved and shy. Through art and the works they’ve created, they become more confident and they begin to shine. With each “I can’t believe you made this!” or “This is so beautiful!”, their smiles get bigger and their self-esteem grows. My father taught me a long time ago, we don’t just teach art at the studio…we make people feel great about themselves.

I believe art teaches children patience. You can’t pick up a paintbrush and be done in three seconds. Art takes time. You need to add layers, go slowly and follow your plan. I’ve watched my four year old go from smooshing paint all over the canvas, to now trying very hard to stay in the lines and take her time. She’s learning that it can’t always be done in a couple minutes. She’s learning that sometimes, things take time. (Of course, it’s fun to just splatter the paint all over too, once in a while…)

I believe art improves hand-eye coordination. Learning to hold the brush, use the scissors, or maneuver the crayon around the paper are all things that help a child’s development.

Lastly, I KNOW art helps a child’s self-esteem.

 A lot of children have walked in with the “I can’t” mentality. I can’t becomes I won’t, so they…don’t. We focus on teaching them THEY CAN. Art has no wrong answer. Art teaches you that it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes our mistakes can turn into something wonderful. Art teaches them that as long as they’re trying, it can only get better. The development of self-esteem is such an important element in the pursuit of happiness, wouldn’t you say? Every time a parent walks in and sees what their child has created and congratulates them on a job well done, the child is encouraged and becomes motivated. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that their roof is a little crooked or their sky wasn’t quite that shade of blue they wanted. They did it! They completed a beautiful piece that they can be proud of.

The best. Realistically, I think giving your child the best is just trying. Showing up and doing what you can any chance you have. Even if my daughter doesn’t end up choosing art as her career, making sure she has it in her life is one way I know I can do my best in bringing in her up. And the kicker is, she’s having fun too.

And isn’t having fun the best?

-Jennifer Harris

pic of meJennifer Harris teaches alongside her mom, Janet Harris at the West Island Creative Arts Center. Jennifer graduated from Concordia with honours with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Specialization Art Education. Jennifer has taught at the Sacred Heart School of Montreal amongst other places in and around Montreal. Personally, she’s having a blast raising her four year old daughter and all that comes with being a mom. 

The West Island Creative Arts Center offers classes to children, teens and adults.
Exciting news – NEW!! COMING IN FEBRUARY – Classes for children ages 4-6

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