(Written by Michael Turner and Elle Yi) The demands of modern life mean that it is often difficult for parents to find as much time for their children as they would like – whilst kids are spending more time than ever absorbed in such unhealthy distractions as video games, the internet, mobile phones and on-demand television.
For the busy parent who would like to spend more quality time with their child, whilst encouraging a healthier alternative to the dubious digital delights of the TV and Xbox, making art together could be the perfect solution.
You could enjoy a variety of relatively inexpensive activities together. From finger painting with younger children, experimenting with tempera paints and watercolours with older kids, sculpting with clay and play dough, to designing personalised t-shirts, the options are endless.
Not only will engaging in artistic activities together help you bond, it will also foster valuable life skills in your child – and educational experts agree that arts together is very important in a child’s development, for several different reasons:
● Communication skills are strengthened, particularly in young children, who can often express visually what they may not be able to, verbally.
● Problem-solving skills are improved. When your child is trying to work out how to mix paints to produce a desired colour, or how best to stick an item to a collage, by testing different methods and possibilities they are behaving like a scientist – and using a process of trial and error to solve problems, rather than unthinkingly following set rules.
● Social and emotional skills are developed. Sharing materials, taking turns, and appreciating each other’s efforts during the art session are all great for developing social skills. By completing a painting or a t-shirt printing, your child is displaying their unique creativity, whilst enjoying a sense of pride and achievement. This is great for positive self-image and mental health.
● Fine motor skills are also honed as your child carries out precise actions, such as cutting out intricate shapes with scissors, or painting small areas with a fine brush.
By encouraging your child to make art you are therefore helping them to develop vital skills and to improve their self-expression, explore their creativity, and build their self-esteem.
Of course, the benefits are not only enjoyed by your child. It may be many years since you have been artistically creative, and the experience can not only teach adult skills to your child, but it can also bring out childlike qualities in the adult you! Many studies have demonstrated the positive health effects of reconnecting with the ‘creative child’ within.
As you can now see, there could be no better and more positive way to spend a couple of hours this weekend than purchasing some inexpensive materials, enticing your child away from the TV, and making art together!
This article was written by Michael Turner, an enthusiastic art, design, fashion and technology blogger from Leeds.