Young Parents team
When your kid works on a painting, she has to visualise the image in her mind, then develop it by choosing the colours to paint with. At the same time, she has to be critical and analyse her artwork for improvement.
So contrary to popular belief, visual arts – such as drawing, painting and crafts – don’t only stimulate her creative side (or the right hemisphere of her brain); it also helps develop the left brain, which plays a big part in logical thinking and analytical processing.
These are skills that are fundamental to successful research and project-oriented tasks, says Yap Kheng Kin, a staff member of the visual arts faculty at the School of the Arts Singapore. Your child also gets a confidence boost and sense of accomplishment when she completes a drawing.
Compared to another kid who draws based only on her own observation and imagination, your child can learn so much more from a teacher, says Jocelyn Chang, curriculum manager of Josiah Montessori, which has an art enrichment programme conducted by teachers from Nimble Fingers Nimble Minds.
For instance, she gets to explore with different media like oil pastels, chalk and acrylic paint, as well as the art style – is it pointillism, pop art or abstract?
Besides drawing and painting, some classes will also teach children how to create 2-D crafts like a brown bear with a fly, or 3-D ones like a scarecrow on a vegetable farm.
Kids also tend to listen better to a trained authoritative figure, adds Ee Kuo Ren, the managing director of visual arts enrichment centre Art Bug. In addition, they learn about time management in class, getting along with others, and that constructive feedback is part of learning and not something to be taken personally.
That doesn’t look right
If you’re concerned that your five-year-old is still drawing stick figures, perhaps she simply wants to illustrate people and so gives a simplified representation, says Kuo Ren. You’ll need to give her time and encouragement to develop her creativity, he feels.
Eileen Yeo, executive director of creative arts enrichment centre Da Little Arts School, on the other hand feels that children who draw like that often have poor levels of self-confidence when asked to express what they want to do. Those who attend art lessons tend to add more details into their drawings and give a more realistic representation, our experts say. With time and guidance, they’ll produce good art pieces.
However, Jocelyn thinks most kids will stop drawing stick figurines by the age of four and proceed to geometrical drawings at five. This means they’ll draw different shapes to represent different objects. For instance, a kid will draw a circle for a face and rectangles for the feet. This is also the age where her drawings usually carry a storyline or theme, and she uses more colours, shapes and styles.
More importantly, there’s no right or wrong in art; it’s all about self-expression. Both Eileen and Jocelyn don’t believe in fencing in a kid’s artistic thoughts. By being too structured, you may be restricting her creativity, shares Jocelyn. Indeed, the ability to think out of the box should be encouraged, says Eileen.
It’s an important life skill that will help your kids in the future.
That’s great, darling!
Resist offering generic praise like that when your child proudly shows you her drawings and you just can’t decipher them. It will only show that you weren’t really looking, and discourage her.
Instead, ask your little Picasso: “Tell me about your picture.” Get her to share what her inspiration was, suggests Kuo Ren.
Don’t point out the flaws in her work. It makes her feel bad about what she’s doing. And try not to help her, even though you’re tempted to help improve it. Let her find her own way until she asks for your participation. Not every artistic product will be perfect.
Remember, it’s often the effort put into creating it that matters more in the end, reminds Kuo Ren.