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  • Writer's pictureChooChoo Chicago Team

Fridge Art: Why Crafting Is Essential In Early Childhood

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

If you’re a parent of a toddler or preschooler, you’ve likely got stacks of artwork laying around the house. Your fridge may be decorated with glue-stick collages and watercolor masterpieces, and your child’s art desk may be an overflowing mess. If your child attends daycare or school, these artworks are just the beginning. The abundance of crafts may seem overwhelming as a parent, but we may be able to convince you to look at these pieces as something more than another project you’ll eventually need to sneak into the recycling. Every drawing, painting, and glue-stick craft your child makes is their development on display.

Art Grows Fine Motor Skills The most obvious way that art contributes to your child’s development is by strengthening their fine motor skills. Holding pencils, crayons, markers, and paintbrushes strengthens the pincer grasp. Picking up small pieces of paper, button, or feathers for collage art and glueing them to the page aids in hand-eye coordination.

Crafting not only helps with beginning fine motor skills, it continues to advance skills as you child grows. As your child’s art abilities improve, they learn not only to use, but to control their motor skills. Keeping their colors inside of the lines and cutting in straight lines takes concentration and muscle control.

When you see your child working on crafts, look closely at their fine motor skills. If they are holding a crayon in their fist while coloring, consider coloring with them to show an example of the pincer grasp that they are working toward. Show them how to draw a circle, so they can practice their muscle control in a new way. Art Is An Early Literacy Tool In early childhood, art techniques and materials are all new to children. As they work with each new object, they learn not only how to use it but also what it is called. They learn the names of colors, spatial relation terms, and general art-related words. Their time spent in a creative mindset is also a time for vocabulary to flourish.

Art is also the first place children begin to use symbols to represent the world around them. These symbols prepare young minds for letters, the representational symbols they will use for the rest of their lives.

Next time your child is painting or coloring, consider casually using new words to describe their work. Say “I love the turquoise color you used for the ocean.” Practice spatial relation words by asking “Will you put the birds on the branch or above it?” Use art terms in statements such as “I love the way you spread the acrylics on your paint palette.” Ask them what their scribbles represent to prepare them for their future in reading and writing. Art Provides Opportunities For Social-Emotional Growth As parents, you’re likely fully aware that young children often struggle to express their emotions. Tantrums in the supermarket, and unfortunately in many other locations as well, prove this to be true. Self expression can be challenging, and it is a skill that needs to be learned.

Art is one of the first tools that children use to express their feelings. Their glue collages may seem to be in random order, but to them they may mean much more. Art is so successful as a self expression tool that it is often used in therapy and counseling. It’s a strong tool to give children an outlet during everyday play, as well.

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