The importance of art and creativity in learning and development

Art and creative subjects play an essential role in children’s learning and development. But despite this, many schools are reducing them in their curriculums. In this article we explore the importance of art and creativity and show why these subjects are fundamental to our children’s development.

What are the creative subjects?

A colourful brain with paint splatters

Art and creative subjects are taught in K-12 to primary and secondary school children. These subjects use creative learning to encourage students to engage, inspire, and challenge themselves, which is ideal for student-centred learning.

Creative subjects can include various activities, including painting, drawing, sculpturing, crafts, cooking, or music. Throughout these activities, children should be encouraged to explore their creative ideas and experiences.

These subjects also provide a great opportunity to learn about creative role models, such as artists, designers, and musician. This will further encourage an understanding of the cultural and historical development behind the art form.

Differences between KS1 and KS2 art and creative subjects

While art and creative subjects are taught to KS1 and KS2, there are differences in how the subjects are taught and the learning outcome. At KS1, subjects focus on encouraging using materials to design and produce creatively.

This is done through practical exercises such as drawing, painting, and sculpturing, allowing children to experiment while sharing ideas, imagination, and experiences with others. Art and creative subjects at KS1 should also encourage children to develop various techniques.

Design techniques that should be taught and encouraged at KS1 include:

  • Pattern
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Shape
  • Line
  • Form
  • Space

KS1 art and creative subjects should also try to encourage learning about the work of existing artists and designers. Learning should encourage describing the differences and similarities between different disciplines and practices while linking to the student’s work.

In comparison, KS2 art and creative subjects build on the knowledge and skills, alongside processes and materials understanding gained at KS1, to encourage children’s creativity and imagination. Providing more complex activities can help with this.

Some examples of complex KS2 art and creative subject activities include:

  • Improving or mastering techniques such as drawing, painting, and sculpting.
  • Using a range of materials during the creative process.
  • Discover and learn about historic artists, designers, and architects.
  • Use sketchbooks for recording observations or reviewing ideas.

Why are art and creative subjects important in learning and development?

Art and creative subjects play a crucial role in children’s learning and development.

Encourages creativity

A group of children in a classroom showcasing art paintings

Art and creative subjects are a great way to encouraging creativity. From an early age, encouraging children’s creativity supports cognitive development. Through creative learning, children are encouraged to explore thoughts and create ideas.

Providing the time and space for children to explore at their own pace is the most beneficial way to develop creativity and curiosity. An awareness of art and peers can also help enrich creativity.

As the freest form of self-expression, enriching creativity at an early age is beneficial for physical, mental, and emotional development. Providing the opportunity for children to create something from their personal feelings and experiences also helps nurture positive emotional health. In addition to this, creative expression can lead to long term improvements in memory, concentration, and attention.

Learn new skills

Alongside the benefits children gain through creativity, art and creative subjects also provide opportunities for learning and developing skills. Creative skills, in particular, can be acquired through art and creativity.

Some of the creative skills children can gain include:

  • Open-mindedness
  • Curiosity
  • Experimentation
  • Ability to brainstorm
  • Analysis
  • Problem-solving

Alongside the creative skills children can gain, art and creative subjects also provides the opportunity to develop communication and organisational skills. These skills will play a key role in the learning outcomes of the children throughout their educational journey.

Sharing ideas and insights with peers and working with others encourages communication. This will help children to develop listening and verbal communication skills, both of which are essential future skills. Other skills that can be developed from creative subjects include:

  • Motor skills.
  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Communicate and better cope with their feelings.
  • Improved expression and characteristics.
  • Observation.
  • Critical thinking.

Link with other subjects

Several colourful sticky notes on a notebook with different subjects written on them

Another benefit of art and creative subjects in supporting learning and development is the link with other subjects. Many creative projects require the inclusion of other subjects such as maths, science, design technology, and more. For example, learning about the different types of paint and how they work involves science, and geometric shapes and patterns in art requires mathematical principles.

Develop senses

Children learn and discover about the world through their senses from a young age. Providing opportunities for young children to develop their senses is beneficial for developing nerve connections to the brain and improving motor and language skills.

Art and creative subjects are very practical, so there is a great opportunity to encourage the development of the senses. Incorporating sensory play into art and creative subjects is an ideal way to achieve this.

Gain a deeper cultural understanding

Many different coloured hands around a globe

Another benefit of creative subjects in learning and development is understanding cultural problems and global perspectives.

Children can gain an understanding of, and relate to, different cultures and backgrounds through role-playing characters in plays or studying music. When students are encouraged to empathise with characters, this further strengthens their emotional understanding.

Engaging in music and creative arts from different cultures and communities also helps to develop their awareness and appreciation of these cultures. This can help students to empathise with different people and situations.

Develop an understanding of technology

A group of kids wearing virtual reality goggles

Art and creative subjects teach children about technology and how to use it in ways they may not learn elsewhere. Exposure to these sources of technology helps to improve digital literacy skills, which can benefit future success.

As many of these art and creative technologies require hand-eye coordination, children can improve their focus and attention to detail. Access to this rich learning tool encourages the development of creativity and problem-solving.

Discover more about the importance of technology in STEM learning spaces.

Art and creative subjects should be an intrinsic part of student’s education from an early age. In addition to the benefits outlined above, this can also help to encourage and empower the next generation of artists, designers, and innovators. Doing so provides the catalyst that helps nurture children’s imagination, creativity, and innovation.