The Benefits of Collaborative and Individual Art Projects for Young Children

This article discusses the benefits of collaborative and individual art projects to the minds of young children. Art fosters an appreciation of the inner experience of other students and lays the foundations of the awareness needed for cultural tolerance. Read on to learn more about the benefits of art projects for young children.

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A definition of art: The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetically pleasing objects. The goal of art projects is to help children grow into well-rounded adults by developing:

  • The ability to make choices
  • Sensory awareness
  • Visual discrimination
  • The ability to define problems
  • The skills to reach creative solutions
  • Patience
  • Intuition
  • Techniques to record ideas
  • A means to communicate abstract concepts
  • Culture

Teachers need to emphasize that art isn't right or wrong. To create art is to expose yourself to the scrutiny of others. This is never easy. A teacher needs to ensure that her young students have a positive experience in the creation of art. The point of any project is to help the student experience a creative flow, no matter how skilled he is with a paintbrush. Here is a list of questions a teacher can ask when faced with the need to spark ideas:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you know?
  • What do you imagine?

Not all children are comfortable with creative expression, especially as they get older. The most creative, imaginative child in the room can go mysteriously blank when asked to share an idea for a story. Teachers and parents should be aware of the many blocks to creativity a child can come up against.

  • Fear of failure
  • Need to conform
  • Being frustrated
  • Boredom and anxiety
  • Preconceived judgments
  • Lack of tolerance for disorder

Art is a means of self-expression and gives form to our invisible feelings and ideas. It helps us define ourselves as individuals. For this reason it can be very challenging and therefore very rewarding for children to collaborate on an art project. Collaborative art balances individual talents with the common goal of the group. Students must learn to appreciate each other's differences and similarities in a supportive atmosphere of teamwork.

Collaborative art focuses on cooperation rather than competition. Artists work together as equals and pool their ideas. Each child is like a little culture all her own. By experiencing the creative flow on her own, a child comes to understand herself and her own inner experience. By working with others, she gains similar insight into her friends and classmates.

Parents and teachers should be aware of the cultural and social blocks that exist among groups of students. Creative projects and an open-minded approach to teaching can provide a supportive, creative atmosphere where social and cultural development and understanding can take place. By creating art a child will necessarily express some aspect of his own experience. With enough time and cultivation, she can develop the ability to relate, through her own experience of the artistic impulse, to that of someone from another country.

This access to the cultural experience of another can promote an appreciation for their humanity, even when the details of their culture are radically different from the child's daily experience. By combining the practice of art with exposure to art from around the world, a teacher will foster not only a deeper understanding of what art is, but also an appreciation of the culture that created it, giving access to the inner experience of that culture, thereby promoting tolerance and a willingness seek common ground.

Art can function as a bridge to understanding others as well as ourselves. To become comfortable with the creation of art is a vital step toward healthy, tolerant consciousness. Children should be allowed to create on their own and encouraged to create in collaboration with others, in order to foster in them the ability to appreciate and perhaps understand the inner experience of other hearts, minds and cultures.

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