There is one very important difference between art as a subject of education and any other subject. While in other subjects, the aim of the teacher is to let students end up with the same experiences and perceptions, art aims at creating the opposite effect. In other words, art aims at allowing children to involve in their own unique experiences in their own unique ways. Thus, regardless the material and values taught in art, “children are having quite different experiences and are acquiring quite different values and attitudes.”[1] Despite this uniqueness of every child’s experience with art, there are various shared values that can be derived by every child through art.

Personality Development

Uniqueness means difference, and difference means the creation of something that is highly personal. When this happens during early childhood, it certainly outlines the development of a healthy personality in the child. When the child learns how to control the materials she is using, how to choose from among various components what she needs, and what she wants to do, she is actually involving in various kinds of decision making processes. The importance of art education for the personality development of the child is that the child “assumes responsibility for choosing and shaping [works of art], uses judgement and control, and gains success experiences that aid in establishing a self-concept of worth as an individual.”[2] Development of self-confidence is also among the consequences of art education. Self-confidence develops when children start to enjoy control over what they are doing, and when they start to achieve the results that they want or expect.[3]

Emotional Development

Art, whatever form it takes such as drawing, clay-working, or paper-cutting, is a form of expression. Artwork provides the child with great opportunities to express her emotions in a constructive manner. Anger and aggression are particularly expressed through art. For example, the child may pound or punch the clay with her hands in order to express her anger. Similarly, hammering nails when working with wood can also be a way of expressing negative feelings by the child. Art therefore provides the child with an alternative to expressing her angry feelings through screaming and breaking things. Eventually, continuous involvement in art teaches the child how to pour her anger into a harmless artistic form that encourages her to express herself positively.[4] Besides, as art education requires a lot of collaboration and coordination with the teacher and other students, the child develops of a sense of security with the people around her, especially the teacher. This sense of security is positively related to the emotional development of the child since it also encourages secure independence. [5]

Social Development

Social development is a natural consequence to child involvement in art works. When the child learns how to share ideas, tasks, activities, materials and other social values, she eventually learns how to express herself to others and how to listen to the expressions of others. Furthermore, she learns how to coordinate and cooperate with her peers. Art education in fact, provides the child with more opportunities for social development than may other forms of education. This is witnessed when children are given the freedom to choose to work on what they want while at the same time sharing and cooperating. The child learns both how to be independent as an individual and how to be a part of the group at the same time.[6]

Cognitive Development

Art should not be mistaken for drawing or scribbling because these are only two categories among many that the child will learn and involve in. While studying art, the child learns how to categorize the different forms of art (drawing, painting, forming shapes with clay, etc.), different instruments (brushes, paint, oil, clay, cubes, etc.), and tasks and activities (forming, tearing, breaking, gathering, dipping, etc.). Furthermore, the development of artistic techniques and tasks encourages the child to develop her speech and verbal expressions in order to handle the various instruments, activities and forms that she is dealing with. All these cognitive developments result from art education.[7] In addition to this, art enables young children to “understand, organize and use concepts.”[8]

Physical Development

Although art activities do not usually involve physical activities such as running, jumping or hopping, they do involve many movements that are often identified as fine-motor-skills. When working with clay, paint-brushes, pencils, crayons or chalk, and when painting, scribbling, manipulating or tearing, the child is developing and learning how to control these fine motor movements.

The development of these fine skills enables the child to control her finer muscles. Such development is crucial in childhood for later needs such as fine handwriting or even higher skills such as operating with fine machines or apparatuses.[9]


Many activities are involved in art education and its various sections. However, each of these activities can serve the development of the child in one way or another, given of course that the teacher is there to implement such relationship between the activity and the development of the child.

Modeling (Clay, dough, sawdust…)

These activities involve beating, pounding, rolling, and forming. These activities involve three major values. They enable the child to develop fine motor skills and the coordination between eye and hand, not to mention the development of sensory experience to the child and satisfaction with achievement. Secondly, these activities make the child involve in forming and changing concepts through the manipulation of forms and shapes. Thirdly, these activities provide enable the child to express aggressive and negative feelings in a positive and constructive manner.

In handling these activities, the teacher should let the child explore the materials and their characteristics, in addition to encouraging them to discover what can be done with these materials. It is also important that the teacher handles storage of these materials so that they remain soft and usable to the child.[10]


The ease of using and manipulating paste makes the child interested in the material itself but not in its purposes. However, this stimulates the child’s creativity, especially as she discovers how to make use of the material with other materials. The ease of manipulation makes paste an ideal outlet for emotional expression, especially of negative feelings.

The teacher should first of all let the child do what she wants with the paste so as to enable her to explore its nature and uses, and eventually, suggest and help in defining the possible uses of the material.[11]

Cutting and Tearing

Cutting and tearing is usually directed at the various kinds of paper and cards. These two activities are important for the development of the child for three reasons. First of all, they develop the ability of the child to use her muscles in such a way that she can control and manipulate the cutting and tearing activities. Secondly, it allows the child to understand and explore the nature of the materials she is cutting and tearing, especially the nature of the surfaces. And thirdly, it stands as a means of self-expression for the child.

The teacher should explain to the children how to use the scissors carefully and safely, but more importantly, she should keep watch on them to make sure that they do not hurt their hands.[12]

Finger Painting

Finger painting is one of the most pleasurable experiences for the child. Although many children may not like getting dirty, most children actually like to enjoy the control they have by using their fingers rather than a brush or a pencil. Finger paining gives the child direct control over the colors and forms which is more helpful for creating forms that are meaningful and purposeful. Besides, this activity requires the child to learn more about colors and to understand how mixing colors can provide different results. Besides, finger painting stimulates the child’s understanding and awareness of the forms, colors and patterns. Finger painting is perhaps one of the most effective activities that release tension in children, especially that involves direct sensory involvement with colors and materials. It also provides the child with “a chance for self-discovery.”[13]

Teachers handling finger painting should provide the various types of paper and surfaces needed for the activity, in addition to the necessary points. The teacher should give the children enough freedom to mix the paints the way they find suitable, and at the same time, she should encourage them “to clean up themselves.”[14]

Painting (Paing, strong, soap, sand, chalk, crayon)

These activities are considered to be among the richest for young children, especially that the child will involve in exploring, spreading, overlaying, in addition to making lines, circles, and various forms. Moreover, with these activities, the child learns how to relate colors, forms, and objects. These activities are also among the most important activities of art since they enhance the child’s individualism and the ability to work alone and independently. These activities provide the child with sufficient experience to understand herself and her abilities in handling materials individually. Besides, these activities provide “a means for motor expression.”[15]

Because of the wide variety of actions that may required in these activities, the techniques used by teachers have to be very extensive. The teacher should first of all make sure that the needed kinds, sizes and supplies of paper, brushes, paints and other material are available. Consideration should be given to the age and physical attributes of the children, such as their height. This is necessary to prevent frustration and to make the experience pleasurable and positive for the child. Moreover, the teacher should make sure that space management is efficient such that the paint will not harm the walls and such that the children have freedom to point in whatever positions they like (sitting, standing, leaning, etc.). The teachers should also stimulate the child’s exploration of the materials and the instruments used. Creativity stimulation with painting activities is unlimited and almost anything can be used to produce anything. Henceforth, the teacher should make sure that the child is aware of the choices and opportunities, as well as of the ways through which she can develop her scope of choice and applications.[16]

Using Blocks

Considered to be among the most important materials of three-dimensional art development of the child, blocks can be used by the child to produce different outcomes.[17] The child may play with blocks, construct buildings out of them, and may even involve in more complicated activities such as building sophisticated structures and assigning functions and names to them which helps in using these buildings in play. For example, a child may use blocks in order to build a small town that includes a train station, a hospital, and other buildings. The child may name these buildings and may even create a play or a story around them, especially in cooperation with others.[18]

Using Tools

Tools such as hammers, saws and nails usually arise the interest of the child. However the child’s interest is usually directed towards the tools themselves and the ability to use them, not necessarily towards creating something in particular. Yet, using tools can enable the child to manipulate these tools, to create objects that may or may not be meaningful. Such experiences further help in developing the child’s abilities to coordinate between eye and hand movements, in addition to providing a rich outlet for expression and emotional release. In addition to this, the use of tools is one of the richest means through which a child can develop problem-solving techniques. Yet, more importantly, handling tools and creating something out of using them is one important step towards building concepts of size and form, which in turn is an important aspect of child cognitive development.[19]

All these activities, including the tools used in them and the values derived from them show that art education is important for the development of the child. Apparently, art education may not always be easy to handle, especially if we take into consideration the costs of all these materials. Therefore, teachers are forced to limit their plans to what can be affordable. The overall importance of art education, however, cannot be ignored or neglected.


[1] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p 381.

[2] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 381.

[3] Laugford, L. (1960).  Guidance of the Young Child. New York: John Wiley, p. 25.

[4] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 382.

[5] Laugford, L. (1960).  Guidance of the Young Child. New York: John Wiley, p. 25.

[6] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 382.

[7] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 382.

[8] Ibid., p. 381.

[9] Ibid., p. 382.

[10] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 392.

[11] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 392.

[12] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 392.

[13] Ibid., p. 393.

[14] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 393.

[15] Ibid., p. 394.

[16] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company,  p. 394.

[17] B. Spodeck, O. Saracho & M. Davis. (1987). Foundations of Early Childhood Education. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.,  p. 213.

[18] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, pp. 394-395.

[19] S. Leeper, R. Witherspoon & B. Day. Good Schools for Young Children. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, p. 395.

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