Visual Arts and Child Development

kids education

Visual Arts and Child Development

By Antonina Gabov - Provisional Play Therapist/Child Psychotherapist BHS., MPT.

A theoretical role of the visual art making in the development of the human brain:
Evolutionary phenomena of an upright posture in humans allowed for the development of a larger brain through the re-organised vascular blood flow that allowed for the cooling of the brain making complex thinking possible. It has also allowed the human-animal free use of his hands playing a vital role in developing its brain further. The primal doodling and scribbling has allowed visual and imaginary parts of the brain to create awareness and extend working memory developing imagination, articulation beyond speech, while contributing to the evolution of speech into written language, into music and then music into mathematics (Sheridan, 2005). The use of hands engages emotional and motivational parts of the brain and is the unique human trend giving it advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom. In short the theory proposes that, one primate group used sticks to mark and draw setting themselves apart from other primates in the evolutionary development to become human (Sheridan, 2005).

The developmental necessity of art making:
For children creating art is a healthy developmental bridge connecting their expression of thoughts and feelings with slowly developing linguistic capabilities. It helps children to express their emotional and mental processes developing their perception of both - themselves and their immediate environment way before they’re fully able to do this linguistically. From the lens of different developmental theories the use of symbolism by children ages 5 to 12 in the art making attunes to the intellectual growth and is helpful in the child’s emotional and relational development (Ferrara, 1991).

The overall value of art creation for children:
Universally acceptable fact is that art making seems to hold special value to children and is emotionally satisfying. It produces the desire to learn and children also use it as a form of self-communication while seeking recognition and developing self-esteem. Art as well as play for children is what planning and thinking is for adults testing expectations. It will continue developing child’s bodily/sensory motor skills, as well as perception and knowledge of self and the world (Ferrara, 1991).


  • References cited:
  • Ferrara, N. (1991). ART AS A REFLECTION OF CHILD-DEVELOPMENT. Am. J. Art. Ther., 30(2), 44-50.
  • Sheridan, S. R. (2005). A theory of marks and mind: the effect of notational systems on hominid brain evolution and child development with an emphasis on exchanges between mothers and children. Medical Hypotheses, 64(2), 417-427. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2004.09.002