Observe children closely and you will notice how they love to make the most of every moment. Whether it is drawing, playing with dough, or any other activity, they are so immersed in the process that they are not concerned about the outcome. This valuable skill of living in the moment and expressing themselves needs to be nurtured as it gradually expands their ability to connect with the world around, which in turn paves way for a new skill – that of healthy self-expression.
Most toddlers and preschoolers aren’t focussed on creating a finished product, which parents find worrisome. However, Aurora as an early childhood learning center firmly believes that instead of defining the parameters of creativity and clipping their wings of self-expression and enjoyment let them enjoy the moment and express themselves.
Why Is Self-Expression Important?
Self-expression is crucial for the development of a child’s identity, self-confidence and sense of belonging to the world. It opens children’s minds and allows them to form thoughts and ideas that may surprise us.
Self-expression helps children communicate their feelings in a positive way. When your children paint or draw a picture, they are learning to communicate visually. For instance, a child may document a joyful experience of playing with his peers through drawing by merely swirling different colours. Expression of feelings through art goes beyond verbal language.
Self-expression also promotes better health and wellbeing in children as they can express their feelings, likes and dislikes constructively. It builds on children’s emotional development, helping them learn about teamwork and consideration for others. As caregivers, it helps us understand the child’s perspective of the world and allows us to respond appropriately.
How arts help foster self-expression
Art is a medium through which children can freely express themselves and explore their strengths and interests. When a child is expressing himself through art, he gradually tests different possibilities and works through challenges. For instance, if he has run out of orange colour, he will think – what other colours can I use? The length of this string is shorter – how do I increase its length? The story that my teacher told the other day had a fairy losing her powers – what if she finds her wand early?
Art allows children to find solutions to a problem. They are often amused by the unexpected challenges they encounter when handling art materials, reading, watching or listening to a story and in the process of finding a solution, they experiment with different ideas, which greatly enhances their problem-solving skills.
Art helps children enhance socio-emotional skills and develop positive mental health. They feel good while they are creating something or even enacting a role. They learn the concept of sharing, taking turns and appreciate one another’s efforts.
When young children hold a paintbrush, try to squeeze glue from a bottle or cut pieces of paper in a controlled manner, they explore their dexterity, and in the process, their fine motor skills are developed.
Different Forms of Self-Expression
• Participation in dancing
Dance is a form of self-expression. It is also a way to express the excess energy that children possess. Each movement that your child makes becomes the medium for understanding and communicating ideas, emotions and experiences.
• Constructing things from playdough or clay
The reshaping of clay or playdough that they see in their imagination is a healthy outlet for emotions. It can help a child develop a sense of self-control. When a child creates a cat from the dough, he is expressing his point of view or his version of what a cat looks like.
Painting is a medium through which children express their experiences or emotions, which they cannot verbalise. Your child may draw pictures randomly and paint them messily but it is a meaningful piece of art for them. They are experimenting with the process of creating and exploring through self-expression and creativity.
• Exploratory storytelling
Encourage children to recount an incident like – how was their birthday party, how they prepared for Christmas carol or narrate them a story and ask them what they would do in a particular role. This not just allows children to express themselves but greatly encourages their creativity, verbal proficiency and imagination power.
At Aurora Early Childcare Center, we believe self-expression equips children to be the best they can be. Teaching arts, as an expression, forms an essential part in the Aurora curriculum. Art opens up an avenue to allow children to express their preferences, feelings and thoughts in a way that is unique to them. Our educators in our childcare centers in Doncaster and Rowville set up learning environments and carefully select activities that reflect children’s interests so they can grow emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially.