Making Thinking VisiblePosted by Amy O'Connor on 10/18/2011 1:00:00 PMDr. Daniel SiegelPsychiatristArtistic Expression
Artistic expression is the way a person communicates what’s inside them to others. What makes that expression “artistic” is that new ideas and combinations of things can be created. These creations can be in so many forms: music, dance, drawing, art, and even telling stories.
When children create, it’s like “brain food.” The brain is able to make new combinations of ideas so that problems can be solved and emotions can be expressed. Having “free-play” time -- time to explore without strict directions on WHAT to do -- helps a child grow emotionally and socially. It’s actually necessary for their brains to develop properly.
There are great benefits to different kinds of artistic expression. Music lessons are wonderful for helping children become focused and disciplined. More free-form expressions—like painting and drawing that are offered in a way that is playful—not practicing but creating—can also be essential for a child’s development of self-expression so that they can become more themselves. When we encourage art that is not based on words—like drawing, painting, music, and dance, we are supporting the development of the right side of our brains which often is left out of everyday school activities. Developing the right side of the brain in art along with the left side for language helps children to become fully developed. As children learn in all these ways, they can become more themselves—the best “me” they can be. This is essential so that children can know who they are in this busy world filled with “do this” and “do that” which often do not encourage children to learn who they are.
How Art Makes Thinking Visible
When we allow our brains to create new combinations and then express them to others through art, we are making thinking visible. Our minds are more than what happens inside—we need to find a way to share our internal thoughts and feelings with others in a safe and supportive place. When we encourage this artistic expression—as the Blue School is based on doing—we are helping kids to grow emotionally, socially, and even academically.
Forms of Artistic Expression
“Art” is a word that means more than just the visual creative expressions of painting and drawing—it can include any way we express our creative instinct: We can dance, play music, build buildings, write poems and even cook food. Art lets our imagination run free and communicate what we come up with to others. When we see that “art” is a form of free-play, we can understand how important it is to let children build their brains through artistic expression. So much pressure is on kids to NOT play—and as adults we need to see that play is brain food! In these ways, art in all its forms helps bring the inside out and builds strong minds and better brains.
Helping Children Make Their Thinking Visible
When you consider how to help children make their thinking more visible, remembering when you were young can be a good place to start. When we become adults, life can get pretty serious in so many ways—especially with all the worries in the world these days. But children need us to support their seeing the world with fresh eyes. Your children look to you for guidance, and being interested in what they are interested in is an important place to start. Then ask them about their thoughts, their feelings. I remember the word “sift” to help guide me in talking with my kids—and even myself: ask about sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts that a child may have. This is how you can teach them to sift their mind! This is a great way to get artistic expression going.
Advice to Parents/Guardians from the Art RoomPosted by Amy O'Connor on 10/18/2011 12:35:00 PM
Kids are born artists. They are naturally curious, imaginative, inventive and intuitive. Art gives kids the opportunity to explore those areas and grow in a safe environment because it is fun for them. Little children love to play, which is how they learn.
Art helps children grow and develop through creative thinking and feeling. Art is about the process for kids, and not about the end product. So in the process of doing art, kids learn critical thinking, problem-solving, and develop social, emotional and physical skills, such as fine and gross motor skills. But really, early art doesn’t have to equal academic genius. It’s giving the kids the chance to express their creativity and learn what art is about, which is freedom to think outside of the box.
Open-ended projects are important because the most important part of producing for a young child is the process, not the result. It is important to pick projects that don’t have a “correct” end result. That way you won’t squash potential artistic genius. Letting your kids explore art without defining art for them is important. That way, they won’t become easily frustrated and hesitant or feel pressured to produce “correctly.” Also, remember to choose activities or projects that are short, but allow enough time for your kids to explore at their own pace. Plan things that are enjoyable and that will result in your kids feeling successful.
Relax and don’t worry if you don’t think you, yourself, are good at art. Again, it’s the process of letting kids explore the art for themselves, so just provide the right materials and environment for them to do that. Make sure you pick non-toxic materials, forgive the mess, because there will always be a mess, and give your kids plenty of time to work on the project and enough warning for them to know when art time is about to be over.
It would be wonderful if children had the opportunity to do art a couple times a day. But at minimum it should be a part of a child’s day at least once a day. Without art, I think there would be a severe lack of creative, imaginative thinkers and inventors. It’s the key to opening up a child’s mind.
Why is art important?Posted by Amy O'Connor on 8/24/2010 10:00:00 AM
What are your thoughts? Why is art important to you?