Go to any preschool, and you’ll almost certainly see students being encouraged to draw, paint, or engage in other artistic pursuits. However, have you ever wondered why? Art is a fun activity, to be sure, but when properly presented as part of a Montessori preschool program, it can teach a lot more than simply “how to draw.” In fact, the “quality” of a child’s art really isn’t the point at all.
The Importance of Art in A Preschool Education
A good preschool art class starts with a piece of still life. It could be almost any object in the classroom, such as a globe, or a potted plant, or any other object that catches the eye. Students should be encouraged to draw that object, although they shouldn’t be forced to. Forcing students to draw things they’re uninterested in will usually just turn them off art by making it feel like a chore.
Students drawing the object should then be encouraged to examine its details. This is one of the main purposes of the exercise! Art is a ‘shortcut’ to teaching observational skills. For example, if students were drawing a potted plant, the teacher might ask them questions about its color. Do the leaves match the stem? What different colors are involved? Are there any highlights or other colors you see?
Likewise, they can also be encouraged to observe size and proportion – another important cognitive skill for developing young minds. Which leaves are bigger, and which are smaller? Training them to look at these sorts of details helps build their spatial perception, while also encouraging them to closely observe things they see in the world around them.
Build Hand-Eye Coordination & More
In addition, art is excellent for building hand-eye coordination. Young children are still learning how to use their hands and other body parts. A focused activity such as art can greatly help in this, particularly if the student is engaged in the art project. If they want to draw the object, they’ll put extra energy into making those connections between their brain and their arms and hands.
The quality of the final product is one of the least important aspects of the process. Even if the child’s drawing looks little or nothing like the model object, they’ll be learning extremely important cognitive and physical skills!
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