How to Encourage a Love of Art in Your Kids

There are so many benefits of introducing children to art and craft from an early age. Fostering creativity, encouraging fine motor skill development and helping children to process their feelings and experiences are just a few of these. We chatted with Kate Boadu, an Inner West Mum and the owner of Jimmy Halfpenny, which organises and captures children’s artwork in personalised keepsake books, about the role of art and craft in her family life. Here’s what she said.

‘Art is really important to our family. We see so much of it rolling through our door every day. There’s my kids’ own school projects but also all the wonderful pieces that we get to transform into beautiful books, from those treasured early splashes and splodges and funny stick-figure family members to more developed, sometimes astounding creative pieces! It’s so interesting to watch my children be inspired by the artwork that they see me processing in my studio. Sometimes another child’s artwork will catch their eye and inspire their own creative masterpiece!
‘Our family loves getting out and about, so many of our creative pursuits involve using outdoor space and the materials found in it. We are huge on beach and bush rambling. We’ll often create pieces from the “treasures” found on those walks – driftwood, seed pods, leaves, dried grasses and shells – either right there and then or when we return home.

Image courtesy of Kate Boadu
‘At home I try to keep our art and craft supplies organised and accessible. I will admit I’m a bit of a neat freak, although I have definitely dropped the ball on this since the arrival of my third child and juggling my business! Adequate storage for all your bits and bobs is essential, otherwise unruly sequins, glitter in places you never knew could have glitter and clogged-up glue sticks may be enough to turn you away from crafting all together!
‘Our art drawers contain all the basics: countless pencils, crayons, markers, sticky tape, paddle pop sticks, paints, beads, crepe paper, magazines and glue. One day I stocked up at a discount variety store, which is a cheap way of establishing a supply of creative play materials.
‘With the art supplies well organised and accessible, I find that most of the time the kids do not need to be set up with a specific activity – just having the materials to hand is enough to conjure up a masterpiece independently! I often use art and craft activities as a way to diffuse those moments when you feel the chaos rising around you. Directing the kids’ energies to art of craft really can re-focus them and restore the calm – or at least that’s the aim!

Image courtesy of Kate Boadu
‘If, like me, sometimes you don’t know how or where to start with an arty or crafty pursuit, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest! There are quite literally thousands of creative Instagram and Pintrest accounts. Some of my favourites include:

Image courtesy of Kate Boadu
‘I generally encourage my children to help with the activity from set-up to clean-up, e.g., pegging up their creations to dry, rinsing paintbrushes or scooping up scattered bits of paper. By involving them in the setting up and cleaning up, I find I resent the mess less. I encourage messy play, but it’s important that the kids still respect our home.
‘As a family, we also love getting to galleries when we can. A couple of years ago our family visited London and Paris. Of course the local and national galleries were on our must-do list, and suffice to say, they did not disappoint! It’s fabulous to hear the children’s interpretation of the artworks – their candid commentary in relation to a piece, the funny insights and innocent take on the world … it’s so joyous and unspoilt.
‘There are numerous benefits of encouraging your children to participate in art from a young age. Art can promote the development of fine motor skills, as well as hand–eye coordination. It can allow children to have an outlet with which to express their emotions. It can develop their sense of make-believe, fostering their imagination. It can improve their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, develop their visual-spatial skills and encourage language development.
‘In terms of when to start encouraging your child to participate in art- and craft-based activities, I say that if a child can hold a crayon or paintbrush without much assistance, they are good to go! In saying this, I recall engaging my babies in pounding playdough and digging in the dirt long before this was possible – there are so many ways to interpret art and creative play.’

Image courtesy of Kate Boadu

Some tips on encouraging a love of art and craft in your children:

  • Use outdoor space and the natural materials found in it. Beach and bush rambling provide opportunities all kinds of treasures and which can be worked into a piece on the spot or back at home. Sand art is another excellent one.
  • Designate a space in your home where your children know they can create artworks.
  • Stock up on a range of supplies at stationery and discount variety stores.
  • Choose which supplies you will make accessible to your children. A caddy containing pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and tape can work well.
  • Make sure your art and craft supplies are well organised. Ikea offers some great storage solutions when it comes to organising art supplies. Equally vintage timber bottle holders offer a rustic look that is a triumph. Decorating mason jars and empty tin cans can be a craft activity in themselves, later to be used for storage.
  • Experiment with materials. If you find yourself always breaking out the crayons, consider using different materials or methods. Use different-shaped sponges, animal figurines, marbles or fruit pieces dipped in paint to make prints. Colour in the spaces in a scribble. Try splatter painting. Or raised salt painting. Blow painting with straws. Marble with oil or shaving cream and food dye. Body or shadow tracing. There are many online resources and tutorials that incorporate interesting materials or methods.
  • Consider purchasing an easel with a roll of paper. Take the painting outside and you’ll enjoy some fresh air and a less stressful clean-up!
  • A set of watercolours is great for a rainy day and easily taken out and about with you. A cup of water and you’re away!
  • Encourage the kids to help with all aspects of the process from set-up to clean-up.
  • Celebrate your kids’ creativity. Decorate a wall or two of your home with their bright works. Frame your favourite pieces. Create a keepsake art book.
  • When family members or friends ask for gift ideas, suggest art and craft supplies. Ready-made art kits, good-quality paper, a comprehensive set of pencils, markers or even watercolours can all make great presents.
  • And if your child just doesn’t like art, don’t worry! There are many other ways to foster creativity.


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