Encouraging the artist in your young child
Children enjoy being creative at an early age and craft activities help young children develop fine motor skills.
It is important that parents encourage the artist in young children. Children can start to enjoy being creative at an early age; many children can use crayons from about 12 months and will love playing with paints at about 18 months. As they get older, two year-olds love finger painting and making prints with their hands and feet, while three year-olds love sponge painting.
As they enjoy being creative, craft activities such as cutting and molding will help your child develop their fine motor skills. Using color and texture and exploring a wide variety of materials will also help develop your child’s artistic appreciation and abilities. Through art, children are able to express feelings, ideas and solutions which they may not be able to express verbally. Most importantly, creating art will enable you and your child to spend many exciting and interesting hours together.
Art activities might appear to be “just messy,” but creating art is a valuable part of early childhood development. Extension states art activities help young children:
- Build strength in the arms, hands and fingers.
- Practice hand and finger control, which helps improve writing skills.
- Practice coordination of the hands and eyes.
- Explore textures, colors and tastes.
- Plan a creation and make decisions about how to create it.
- Explore and express their feelings.
- Expand their creativity.
Michigan State University Extension recommends the following craft activities:
- Working with clay and play dough.
- Making greeting cards and drawing pictures as gifts for family members.
- Cutting paper with child safety scissors to use a simple collage.
- Making an art piece using dried beans, dried peas, macaroni and cereal.
Parents much always remember to supervise all art activities and only provide safe art material. Remember, making a mess is part of the fun of being creative for young children so don’t worry about the mess - this fun time together with your young child is priceless.