Creative art is an important part of the child care curriculum that helps children explore their feelings, practice creativity and problem solving, and develop fine motor skills. Creating art can foster a child’s feelings of self-esteem and success. Art is a great way for young children to improve motor skills and strengthen pathways of connections in the brain, which can help them succeed at academic skills later.
Child care providers need to be sure to make art available to all children. Because creating art can help enhance children's skills and abilities, it is especially vital for all children to participate. The following are some common challenges to making art available for everyone.
Sometimes in classrooms for preschoolers or school-age children, art is used as a reward for good behavior or getting work done. If art is only provided as a reward, some children will not have the opportunity to participate in creative art activities. Be aware that creative art can be an important area where some children can succeed, even if they are struggling in other areas. Making art a reward for other types of success may keep those children who need opportunities to succeed from participating in art.
Some young children completely avoid art activities if given free choice. Although children should be allowed to make decisions about where they will play during discovery times, there are other ways to ensure that all children have opportunities to create art. Designing a creative art activity for a small group of children, adding materials that interest children who do not typically try art, and making art activities available in unusual settings — such as outdoors — may encourage children who do not typically prefer art activities. For more ideas, check out Ways Child Care Providers Can Encourage Children Who Don't Like Art.
Although you should never force children to create art when they are not interested, there are many ways to set up an environment that encourages creative art. Here are some tips to help ensure that creative art experiences are available to all children in your child care program:
To learn more about young children's art, check out our section on Art in Child Care, or take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:
For specific art activity ideas to use in your child care program, check out the database of Hands-On Activities for Child Care.