Preparing your child for adulthood

Posted in Arts and crafts, Play. Posted on by Jacob Lett

On average, during our lifetime a person works 50 years and is in school about 12–16 years. It is no wonder there is such a need to be prepared for our working years. Each phase in our development builds on each other and prepares us for the next and greater step. We move from play, to learning, and then to working. I think it is important we never stop the past skills and only add new ones. Unfortunately, it seems we are doing the opposite because we are so focused on one step at a time. For example, play becomes less frequent as we increase our focus to learning in school. Then after graduation, we decrease our learning as we spend the majority of our time working.

Art, in short, is extremely important to the children’s development & helps them become more imaginative & responsive adults.
Nancy Beal

In school, art transitions from being a form of play to becoming a subject learned at school. If art, or any other subject for that matter, is done only at school it is hard to see it’s importance for daily life. Teacher led instruction followed by continued learning at home, will strengthen a child’s character and prepare them for their adult lives. But why is art important? What exactly does it teach children that impacts their development?

Americans for the Arts list these seven benefits of art education:

1. Informed sense of perception

Because art is multi-sensory by nature a child will have an easier time understanding something that is paired to an image, taste, or smell, especially something of beauty or high quality. By creating and observing art, your child will be in tune to their ability to see, hear, taste, and touch in their everyday lives. This awareness paints a broader picture of their world and helps them to better understand and communicate it.

2. Ability to imagine what might be

Every artist is familiar with the hesitant feeling when staring at a blank sheet of paper. The creative freedom available can be daunting. Your child will first draw and plan their picture as they go on the paper. With practice, your child will be so familiar with drawing that they will be able to visualize their drawing using their imagination. This ability is highly valued by entrepreneurs and business leaders who are required to see what could be and develop a plan to attain it.

3. Articulating a vision

The dictionary defines vision as “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination.” Overtime an artist learns the ability to picture their completed artwork before they even begin to create it. This creative vision helps the artist stay motivated as they work to see it completed.

This ability is highly valued in leadership roles in companies. It is through mission and vision statements companies paint a picture for where the company is headed. At any point, they can stop and see if they are on track or if they need to make changes to help them reach their vision.

Vision is also important in adulthood. Your child will someday have to make a decision which requires thinking into the future. Two examples would be choosing a career path or picturing where they would like to be 5 or 10 years down the road and plan how to get there. Helen Keller said it best when she said, “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

4. Learning to solve problems and make decisions

When creating art we can easily become overwhelmed with options and creative decisions; should I draw or paint? What color should I paint this? What should I draw? This freedom of decision is what makes art fun and difficult at times. It takes practice and learning from past mistakes to begin to narrow down these options. As you try certain things you will see what works and what doesn’t work. This translates well in our work life as we are often faced with a myriad of options, and it is our job to find the one most appropriate.

5. Building self confidence

“Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance,” says Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project. Creating a place of security for your child will help them to discover and play without the feeling of insecurity about their exploration. The creative process has a recurring pattern of creating vision, creating a plan to reach the vision, working the plan, and then having a strong feeling of accomplishment when the vision is executed. This experience will teach your child to enjoy working towards accomplishing a goal no matter how difficult it might be to reach it.

6. Willingness to make mistakes and learn from them

Each mistake is an opportunity to learn. It is okay to make mistakes but we must learn from them and work to not repeat them. In art, mistakes are common, and we can either erase them or embrace them. A good example would be the work of Jackson Pollock. His canvases are riddled with happy mistakes and yet he learned to embrace them. Through art, your child will learn to be comfortable taking creative risks knowing mistakes are possible. Regardless of this possibility, they are still willing to pursue their vision.

When I was younger, I would watch the painter Bob Ross on PBS television. I enjoyed how he would demonstrate his painting techniques and encourage the viewer to explore and to create “happy” trees. His technique was a general guideline, and he would remind everyone no tree is exactly the same. Creativity embraces these “happy accidents”, and it is fun not knowing what might be around the next corner.

7. Accepting responsibility to complete a task from start to finish

It takes a lot of discipline to work towards a creative vision. Especially one that will require a lot of time and dedication to complete. The artist knows the only way they will see their vision is if they continue to work towards it. This ownership will help your child accept the responsibility of starting and finishing a project and the importance of follow-through.

What effect has art had on your life?

Leave your answer in the comments below.