The SPICE of Life: 5 Reasons to Engage Your Young Kids in the Arts

 Recently, I read an article about the Benefits of Early Childhood Music Programs, which inspired me to look further into the subject and share my thoughts here with you! It highlighted a few ways that engaging children in music early on enhances their sense of balance and coordination, strengthens motor skills, and recognize pitch and volume.

In the article Rick Podger briefly mentions five developmental domains that occur between birth and age 8, which are often referred to as the “SPICE of life”: Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, and Emotional. I started thinking about how the arts as a whole can enhance these five developmental spheres.

Being exposed to and engaging in the arts can have profound effects on the way that a child develops in all five of these arenas not just the creative, which is the most obvious of the bunch. Here is a little insight into why your youngster would benefit from music, movement, and visual art classes.

 SOCIAL: In this realm children learn to play with others and form attachments, and they begin to cooperate and share with each other. Art classes can help reinforce these aspects of social development because there is a give and take that goes on, which encourages them to work together and develop friendships. Rarely are early childhood art classes focused on individuals. The importance is on the social aspect of the art-making experience, and reinforcing the group dynamic.

PHYSICAL: This realm is related to the development of fine (small) and gross (big) motor skills. A few examples of fine motor skills in the arts are: plucking guitar strings in rhythm, painting the details onto a picture, controlling your wrist while dancing with a paper fan (as seen in a few forms of Japanese dance), and controlling your vocal chords. Examples of gross motor skills would be large dance moves that incorporate your whole body (often found in many forms of African dance), wailing on the drums, or painting large strokes on a canvas. All of these skills take time to develop, but as a child practices them she begins to coordinate both the smallest and biggest of movements.

INTELLECTUAL: Here, children begin to make sense of the world around them. Music is a great way to help kids learn to order their day. Songs that are sung while cleaning up, bathing, getting ready for bed, and brushing teeth are a perfect place to start. They begin to associate these songs with the action, and it makes the action more fun to do! And on another level, engaging in art helps kids discover sounds, shapes, and colors in their environment. They can begin to connect the art-making experience with nature, associating a police siren to vocal pitches, evergreen trees to triangles, and yellow to the sun or the color of their kitty’s eyes.

CREATIVE: This is where children start developing and discovering that they have special abilities, which turn into talents as they grow. Early childhood art classes allow youngsters to explore this new world of creativity. Kids are encouraged to use their imaginations, move their bodies, play in time with music, and explore colors and shapes. As children grow up they learn to develop these abilities further to become great storytellers, actors, musicians, painters, sculptures, and dancers. Even if the child doesn’t grow up to be an “artist” the skills that are developed in an arts education are transferrable; students also learn to problem solve and think creatively about their world, which are necessary to be successful in almost any field.

EMOTIONAL: In this realm children become self-aware and build confidence, while learning to cope with and understand their feelings. The arts are incredible self-esteem boosters. Children who are encouraged to be creative from an early age very often become confident, well-adjusted adults because they were given the chance to explore their feelings, open their eyes to new ways of looking at their world, and understand that they are people who matter in this world – that their thoughts and emotions are valid.

What could be better for a child then exposing her to the arts, and allowing her the space to explore? I can think of nothing…


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