Art is more than mixing colors.
There is often a tendency to oversimplify the impact that art can have on youth, so we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the benefits that often go unnoticed.
First, it is important to mention that children’s brains are constantly figuring out what skills that child is going to need for life, and creating neural pathways to strengthen their ability to perform whatever activities they do regularly. This means that the skills they exercise through the creation process will form their brain, and ultimately make them better able to navigate the trials and obstacles that life will test them with.
This includes the scientific reasoning that goes with mixing colors, the rigorous logistical planning that accompanies looking at a blank sheet of paper and planning how each layer and structure will fit in for realizing the overall vision, and the constant problem solving and emotional control as their hypothesis of what is needed to reach that vision does not seem to work out exactly how they wanted.
Below are a few more reasons why we value art so much.
Creativity extends past the pad
The ability to think multi-dimensionally and have the confidence to visualize things that others have not been able to see yet is an important trait that artists develop which translates directly into the working world.
Who gets promoted? Regardless of the field, those who get promoted are usually the ones who not only do their job well, but those who find a way to stand out.
Being able to look into the future and create a process or put a system in place that solves a significant problem the company faces gets employees noticed – and ultimately, fast-tracked. It is not good enough for our children to be “average” or “good,” they have to find ways to be “great”…and that often involves both doing what’s in their job description, and visualizing what could be, even if no one else sees it, and then artfully executing on that vision until the solution is realized.
Expression is important
Art is an outlet. Like music, art provides a platform for expression. Having this tool that youth can use to get their feelings out makes it easier for them to deal with those feelings, while also giving parents and those around them insights into what is going on in their minds. The best way to be there for a child who may not fully understand how to deal with (or express) their thoughts and emotions, is to understand them.
Since we often have to learn how to express what we feel, and that can be a long process that lasts well into adulthood, art can also provide a better way for youth to communicate with the world what is going on with them.
Confidence from inside
As they advance, students transition from the basic steps of learning the fundamentals of figure drawing and structuring artistic pieces, to an understanding that what they create, and how they decide to interpret the traditional rules of art becomes their value. They begin to embrace the fact that their form of expressing the world and what they see around them is both important and valuable.
Not only that, they begin to understand that the right people will see the skill and beauty in their work, and that their work has merit whether most understand it yet or not. This instills internal confidence that makes them less dependent on outside validation and impressions, and more aligned with whether they are fulfilling their value system, accomplishing the goals they set for themselves, and are finding their true north.
At Upper Room, we believe that youth can be equipped with all of the tools they need to be great. It is up to us to understand what our kids need, and present them with the activities and support to realize their potential, and accomplish their goals.
Raising kids can be both a test of resolve and an exercise in patience. Then add on top a sense of guilt as to whether you are doing the best job possible preparing your kids for life, and there you have parenting in a nutshell. While we as parents do often carry the weight of having to be responsible for these little people, there are things we can do to both lighten the load and help share some of that responsibility for equipping them with the skills for success.
One of those people that can help is named “coach.”
That’s right, sports can have a significant impact on kids’ development and take some of the pressure off of you to teach them everything. In the first part of our two part series on the benefits of sports, we explore some of the physical and mental benefits of having your kids take part in a competitive sport.
Kids can be physically awkward. This tendency to constantly be bumping into things, knocking things down (and usually having them fall on to your new carpet), as well as being generally unaware of their body, is a result of them still growing, and as they continue to develop they are feeling out their constantly changing bodies.
Sports often help by teaching your kids spatial awareness and balance. Most sports require kids to go through endless drills that give them an understanding of both their body and how to use their body in space. They understand their reach, and through pushups, stretches, and combined physical activities, they also learn how heavy or light they are, and how to better shift their weight.
To make it even better for your glassware and cabinets, they learn how to react to objects, so there is a higher likelihood of them catching themselves or catching your glass before it hits the floor.
Having a better sense of their bodies, and how to balance their bodies, can combine to give your child more confidence going through both school and life. Fewer embarrassing falls or accidents, and more confidence in their own skin.
Communicating Under Stress
The essence of communicating, with yourself or with your teammates, when you are losing is a skill that is easiest learned through sports and can last a lifetime.
When everything is on the line, what do you tell yourself? How do you deal with it? What do you tell others? This is what many athletes learn from their coaches, and it goes on to serve them throughout their lives.
It’s Not Just About Them
Especially as kids grow up, they have a tendency to get used to all of the attention they have received over the years (especially if they do not have several brothers or sisters to constantly antagonize them…or if they are the youngest). This means that they can sometimes get a little too “self-oriented” and not actively think about others, or care about how their actions affect others. Enrolling them in a sport is a perfect way to counteract some of this.
Especially if they are a part of a team sport, your child will have to get used to working together with teammates to accomplish their collective goal of winning. They will associate the positive feelings and emotions associated with winning, with the need to work with others to achieve that.
Throughout the seasons they realize that they must learn how to communicate with those teammates if they want to win, and are exposed to lots of different types of backgrounds and personality types that they can learn to communicate with.
Learning to communicate with various types of people from different backgrounds can give your child a leg up, especially considering that there are still many adults who have not yet been challenged to have to learn interpersonal interactions.
How do you know you have more in you left to give if you are not pushed to dig deep and find a place to pull from?
One of the most important things that playing sports does for kids is teach them what it means to really want something, and what it takes to get it. Getting what you want in life is rarely easy, so the sooner they can be prepared for the fight to get it, the better off they will be. Fortunately, they will have a team of coaches and fellow players there to motivate them to push themselves through the discomfort and past what feels good, as well as to instill a lifelong understanding of what they need to do to reach that place where they are giving all they can.
Upper Room strives to create a positive space for youth, with high-quality, educational out-of-school programs that actively engage them to think differently. Learn more about our after-school and summer programs.
Your child may not always be able accurately to express how they feel. So it’s on us as parents and educators to identify and address their emotions through the signs that they give us. That’s why Bethann Roitz with Upper Room’s Early Learning Center recently released some guidelines to help determine and manage emotional sensitivity with your child.
Emotionally Sensitive Children and their Temperament
- Do you have emotionally charged children whose reactions are excessive?
- Cry or upset over small things
- Do they rarely get upset or express feelings?
Emotionally sensitivity is an inborn part of our temperament which consists of ten traits and makes children unique. It is the ease or difficulty to which children respond emotionally to situations. The trait is measured by how tuned a child is to their feelings and, why some children do not seem to be aware of what they are feeling, appearing to be non-responsive to what they see around them.
A child may be aware of their own feelings, even to the point of being self-absorbed, while not aware of other people’s feelings, and vice versa.
Emotional Sensitivity – To One’s Self
Is your child able to express clearly what they are feeling?
- When watching a scary movie do they react “over the top”?
- Do they cry often and have a hard time “letting things go”?
- Do they get overly upset when someone disciplines, criticizes or comments negatively to them?
(No) 1 2 3 4 5 (Yes) Unaware of own feelings Feels Strongly
Higher scores indicate a child is more emotionally sensitive by showing hurt, sorrow, worry, embarrassment, fear, empathy or anger, straightforwardly or dramatically, than those who are less sensitive. Parents can support children by;
- Not dismissing their feelings, teach them to express their reactions in appropriate ways.
- Let children share how they feel about every little thing.
- Listen if they feel wrongs strongly, (treatment of siblings).
- Do not take their intense emotions personally.
- Wait, because they may hold on to feelings longer. Teach forgiveness so they learn to move on.
- Be patient, they may be overwhelmed when they see strong emotions. Monitor TV and games that are frightening or sad.
- Sensitive children may be more considerate and empathic.
- As adults, they do well in careers in the helping professions.
Emotional Sensitivity, to others
- Does your child notice when others are upset or hurt?
- Do they seem to “feel what others are feeling”?
- Does your child show empathy or sympathy towards others who are upset?
(No) 1 2 3 4 5 (Yes) Insensitive to others’ feelings Emotionally tuned in
Lower responses may mean they are less sensitive; rarely upset or may not make a “big deal” about things. They may not be aware of others feelings and may be considered insensitive.
- Help them identify feelings by naming and talking about them.
- Understand that emotional sensitivity is a part of your children’s inborn temperament.
- Avoid labeling; “whiner” or “cry-baby” or “selfish.”
- Use positive words; “sensitive,” and “intense.”
- Acknowledge temperament and help them to understand it.
- Know their reactions/behaviors to avoid shaming.
- Understand how your temperament fits or doesn’t fit with your child’s.
- Let them know that you appreciate them and help them to feel good about who they are.
- “You have very strong feelings.”
- “You express yourself strongly.”
- “You care a lot about other people.”
- “You are aware of how others are feeling.”
- “You can feel what you are feeling and then move on.”
By using these guidelines, we can better identify our child’s feelings and help them express themselves in a healthy way.