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The Benefits of Art for Children

Children show their first signs of ‘art’ at around 18 months old, when they start to make scribbles and explore different materials. At around the age of 3, these drawings will begin to represent concepts, such as a circle and two lines to show a person.

As children develop (both physically and cognitively) their pictures will become more recognisable and complex . From a young age it is good for children to have access to a range of arts and crafts materials and the freedom to be creative; child-led play is a key part of the play diet, and art is a great opportunity for this. 

The Department for Education in England acknowledges the importance of art and design for children’s learning and development, as this is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage as well as the National Curriculum for key stages 1 and 2.

There are lots of developmental benefits of Arts & Crafts for children of all ages:

Children come across vehicles frequently in their daily lives, so they like to incorporate these in small world play, too. Imaginative play allows children to exercise their creativity and helps them make sense of the world around them.
1 year olds particularly like copying their role models, and ride-ons that look like real carsgive them the chance to do this.

Multisensory, engaging learning

Learning through different techniques is known to help reinforce memory, as this makes for a more in-depth and stimulating experience.

In addition to the other skills on this list, art is also a valuable tool for getting children engaged in other areas of education. For example, they could make a historical figure out of a wooden peg, or create a collage of a rainforest.

Some of these techniques include:

– Kinaesthetic (doing)

– Auditory (hearing)

– and Visual (seeing)

Self expression and personal development

Children who find it difficult to communicate verbally may find it easier to do so through art, where they can explore their thoughts and feelings through a different medium. This can also lead to a potential opportunity to begin discussing issues that your child is currently going through – for example, if they draw a monster in their bedroom, you could start talking to them about fears.

Art also means children can explore their individuality, because they can make whatever they can imagine in their own style. While having a final piece is not key, as children will gain the most from the process of being creative, having something to show off at the end is good for building self esteem and confidence.

Discussion, language and critical thinking

A child’s artwork is a great way to encourage speaking and vocabulary development. Children are really enthusiastic about their creations and will love to describe them to you; you can also introduce new descriptive words and get them talking about the different colours, textures and shapes used. Art can also be used to encourage critical thinking, by asking children questions such as why they used certain materials, how they made their picture look like that, or what they might do different next time.

Boats at bath time

Children can be reluctant to have a bath, but can be kept entertained with bath toys. Toy boatsare great for this, turning the bath into a giant ocean to sail on!
Toy boats can also be used for water play, which is a good sensory activity and allows children to learn about the effects of water (e.g. learning that if they push a floating boat under the water, it will bob back up again).

Creative thinking and problem solving

The beauty of art is that there are no right or wrong answers, so it offers freedom of thought and experimentation. Children can explore their imaginations and find out what happens when they mix certain colours or textures, try different approaches and explore ideas. This is a good platform for learning how to solve a problem, which is a key skill for school and later in life.

Self expression and personal development

Using different colours and textures is a great experience for younger children. Creating a collage by sticking pieces of paper or glitter, or using finger paints, gets children feeling different textures. Children can become familiar with different colours by experimenting with them, and learn what happens when they mix different colours together.

Concentration and focus

Children often become very absorbed in creative activities. Activities that keep their attention like this are great for helping children practice concentration and focus, which are useful skills to have when they are working in a classroom.


It is easy to be put off when something doesn’t quite go the way you want it to! However as this is often the case, being able to keep trying is an important skill for future learning. Dealing with a misplaced paint splodge or a piece of cotton wool that just won’t stick will show children that if they don’t give up, they can still create a wonderful finished piece.

Hand-eye coordination and fine motor control

Using a paintbrush or cutting with scissors are good for strengthening children’s hand and arm muscles, as well as developing fine motor control as movements become more precise. Holding a paint brush or crayons also encourages children to use the tripod grasp, which is important for learning to write.