WHY music, dance, art, etc. is important to infant/toddler development
From great works of art to fun children’s tunes, the arts play a role in every growing child’s life. The great developmental benefits of creativity alongside the happy feeling of being imaginative and inquisitive brings to your child make it obvious why the arts exist everywhere across cultures and history. From the time that an infant’s ears develop in the womb, they are taking in different tones and notes around them. The arts are not only an essential part of children’s lives but exposure and interaction with different arts greatly influence development. Every domain of development can be affected by the arts and creativity. Dancing, drawing, singing, and sharing art are all ways a child can begin to strengthen their cognitive, motor, and language skills. By encouraging your child to explore different kinds of creativity and art, you help them begin to understand and interact with their world in new and exciting ways. From infancy through their adult lives, learning, seeing, and hearing about creative arts will aid in your child’s cognitive, motor, literacy, and social skills. Your child can explore the arts in numerous ways. Each time your child is able to get creative or partake in a new activity such as dancing or drawing, they are broadening their horizons and learning to grow in new and exciting ways.
Your child explores art and creativity in their way beginning in infancy. In fact, many kinds of play are considered early exploration of art. For instance, singing, dancing, and drawing allow your child to engage their senses and begin to explore different concepts. All forms of art such as music, drawing, dancing, and playing instruments encourage your child’s brain to make new connections. These new connections will help your child’s brain wire itself for better learning, problem-solving, and planning in the future. Some specific activities that encourage cognitive development involve learning about mixing colors through painting, learning about instruments and music, and practicing mental imagery and creativity through drawing. Moreover, physical activity such as dancing can help keep your child’s brain strong. Research has shown that in places where children are exposed to art as part of their core learning, they are able to learn in better ways as well as find new pathways for success and thinking.
The arts can encourage motor development in two ways: Gross Motor and Fine Motor skills. Gross motor skills are the large, full-body movements that a child makes, and Fine motor skills are the smaller, more precise movements, such as holding a pencil. When a child can dance along to music, whether it is structured through teaching, or unstructured as a part of free play alongside music, they are making many connections in their little brains and bodies. Dancing allows a child to learn how and where to move their body as a unit. These movements not only help connect wires in their brains but in their bodies as well. They can practice and learn how to move their body in synchrony as well as strengthen their muscles and balance. Dancing is also a form of exercise that helps keep your child healthy. Similarly, other forms of art, such as drawing can greatly affect a child’s fine motor skills. Grasping crayons and paintbrushes aid your little one’s fingers and hands to move in new and important ways. They are also able to receive a lot of different sensory input that helps them better explore texture and various forms of pressure with their hands. These early drawing skills help children to better achieve later life skills like tying shoes, buttoning jackets, and other skills necessary for daily living.
Research has shown that the more musical exposure that children are given, the better their reading development. Music helps children to tune into complex tones and interpret them in much the same way they are later required to do when reading. Additionally, activities like drawing and looking at pictures help children begin to understand how images and symbols can have meaning which is a key for early literacy and math skills. Watching and listening to different forms of art will help your child begin to decode the world around them and help give them more skills for learning literacy and mathematic skills.
Overall, the arts are fun for your child. Listening to music, grooving out with peers, drawing a pretty picture, and more allow your child to explore their world and the people around them. Through activities such as dancing and listening to music, children can learn about how to interact with others. Moreover, children can learn to work together to create something. This can be major in helping them socialize and feel needed by others. Children can also explore their own emotions through creativity and art, allowing them to better express themselves to you and others.
RESOURCE CREDIT: Jane Midkiff | HDCD master’s candidate | University of Texas at Dallas
Watch some of our favorite videos on creative arts.
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Creativity is needed by every person every day.
Everyone can be Creative
Creativity can be found and used everywhere in almost every situation.
3 Ways to Sustain your Child’s Creativity
Finding ways to encourage and foster creativity helps our kids be better humans.
What are the creative arts?
How do I encourage my child to be more creative?
What kind of materials does my child need to be creative or do art?
Where can I take my child to show and encourage creativity?
What kind of music should I show to my child?
How do I encourage creative thinking in my child?
How early should I introduce my child to creative arts?
How can I best interest my child in creative arts?
- Creativity and Play: https://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/play.html
- Americans for the arts: https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/networks-and-councils/arts-education-network/tools-resources/encourage-creativity
- Approaches to Learning through creativity: https://illinoisearlylearning.org/ielg/creativity/
- Creative activities for babies under 1 year: https://www.mylittlemoppet.com/34-creative-play-activities-for-babies-below-1-year/
- Creative activities for babies 2-3 years old: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/53723/80-best-activities-2-year-olds/
- Creative activities for children: https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/15-best-creative-activities-for-kids/
- Preschool songs and music: http://www.preschoolexpress.com/music_station.shtml
- Online/Livestream Storytime: https://jbrary.com/storytime-online/
- Teach the Arts: https://www.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2014/by_program/networks_and_councils/arts_ed_network/encourage_creativity/Encourage-Creativity-Parents-Students.pdf
- Creative Development: https://www.scholastic.com/content/dam/teachers/articles/migrated-files-in-body/Childrenscreativedevelopment_02_01.pdf
- Creativity by Crayola: https://www.crayola.com/-/media/Crayola/For-Educators/Free-Resources/downloads/Creativity/8CCAC-CREATIVITY-Workshop-Handout.pdf
Sidewalk or Mud Painting
- Description: Fill a bowl with water and grab a paintbrush. Bring your child outside and let them use the water to create temporary “paintings” on the sidewalk. Let them see how the sun “erases” their paintings. If your child especially enjoys sensory activities, you can try adding some dirt to the water and “paint” with the mud with the paintbrush or even their fingers.
Make your own Music!
- Description: Gather some kitchen items such as pots, bowls, or cups along with spoons or spatulas. Lay them out with your child and encourage your child to drum along and make music. Get involved by showing them how to drum and move your body along with your new beat.
- Description: Gather any fun clothes, shoes, and accessories and dress up with your child. Encourage them to make up a fun pretend story about what or who they are dressing as well as encourage them to act like the people they are pretending to be. You can even dress up and make up your own fun story alongside them.
- Description: Find some music your child enjoys, turn up the volume, and DANCE! You can also turn out the lights and bring out different items like glowsticks and flashlights. Dance with your child and encourage them to move their bodies with the music.
The “Not a Stick” challenge
- Description: Grab any inanimate object such as a stick, cup, or item of clothing. With your child, try to come up with as many ideas as you can about what that object could be or could be used for. For instance, a stick may be a magic wand.