Creativity can be fostered in a way that is beneficial for physical health and development. The image above is a cluster of words describing the skills (mostly related to physical health) that are gained and improved on through the teaching of art. The arts, when used as Art Therapy, can allow children creativity while gaining the skills that help them in their development. Young children need to be able to hold and use scissors and pencils appropriately, yet they haven’t developed the strength needed in their hands and fingers. Developing strength and coordination (for fine motor skills and dexterity) can be supported through art activities that require threading beads, cutting and sticking, tearing and scrunching papers. Art is also used as Art Therapy for sensory integration and sensory awareness. By using different types of fabrics, textures, colors, and paper, a child can be introduced to sensory objects in a safe environment.

 This fall’s after school Artmania program entitled “World Architecture” supported the students’ development of fine motor skills as well as spatial acuity and focus. The children were introduced to world architecture with detail to the formation of three-dimensional drawings. The project involved many different art techniques and the students were directed to envision the final product. Although they worked on each piece of the final product in separate classes, they were encouraged to mentally visualize how the pieces “fit together”. This helped them develop their focus so they can carefully plan the shape and size of each art piece to contribute to the final product. This also demonstrated the importance of relationship. Not only the relationship between their art pieces in the final product, but the importance of the relationships with their fellow classmates and siblings. Siblings quite often took the classes together and helped each other.

The final word (that I haven’t yet written about from the image above) is self-esteem. It may not seem to fit in the category of physical health, but (like the words focus and relationship) it can’t be ignored. An amazing by-product of using art as therapy or using art for the purpose of developing new skills is the development of self-esteem. Gaining (or improving on) new skills and seeing a project to completion contributes to a person’s “self-identity” and self-esteem.

Domenica Mastromatteo