Where good nutrition is vital in the child’s first 1000 days, art plays a similar important function in the development of a child. For children, ages 3 to 8, encouraging them to explore and take part in the arts strengthens development in multiple key areas.
As early childhood is a time of wonder and discovery, art is not only a fun-filled activity but it also provides the building blocks to a child’s full development. The National Coalition for Core Art Standards in the US outlined that at this stage, art bolsters motor, cognitive, and socio-emotional skills.
This is a crucial time when kids begin understand themselves and their environment. Stressing participation in art activities such as dance, music, and the visual arts; young minds are opened to discovery, innovation, and self-expression. Of course, art’s influence does not end at the pre-school level. As a child matures, learning becomes more complex. Continued exposure to the arts gives an added bonus of enhancing critical thinking, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to grasp abstract ideas.
Art’s key role is far from a hippie’s viewpoint though. A 2012 report released by the US Department of Education found that a well-rounded educational system should include and put similar importance to the arts. This finding came after it discovered that students who have access to art education displayed better academic performance and thus presented with broader career opportunities.
The sad reality however is that for families who barely make enough to survive, art is seen as a non-essential and perhaps a pursuit reserved for the privileged few. Gota de Leche believes in a holistic approach to health and development and while providing for the nutritional and health needs remain to be a core program, introducing children to many art forms also deserves a place.
Reducing the incidence of malnutrition in the Philippines is important but providing children with the foundation to make it in the world should not be ignored.