1 Art improves hand-to-eye coordination
Do your little tykes have handwriting messier than a spider on roller skates? Drawing and painting helps kids develop steady hands and provides invaluable practice when it comes to forming their letters and holding their writing tools correctly.
2 Art helps self-expression
You can always tell if a child is happy and balanced by their daubs and doodles. Indeed, potential problems can be flagged up through pictures – if, for example, they’re being bullied at school but haven’t felt able to express their unhappiness. More positively, they can set their own boundaries through their art work. Anything goes when you’re given a paint palette and a blank piece of paper.
3 Art is the perfect cooldown
Literacy and numeracy require kids to concentrate in a way that is both tiring and draining. An afternoon art lesson is the perfect antidote to all of that channeled concentration by providing children with the downtime they need to recharge their overloaded mental batteries.
4 Art nurtures inventiveness
Children express their ideas far better through creative mediums. If you were to ask a class of six-year-olds to design a machine that makes their bed every morning, they would take to the challenge with gusto and astound you with their mechanical know-how and imagination. Ask them to write down their ideas, however, and most of them would struggle.
5 Art builds confidence
Art is subjective. Every child can excel at it. True, little Johnny’s dragon may look like an explosion in a mud factory but that doesn’t matter a jot. He might never be a Rodin or a Da Vinci, but Pablo Picasso should watch out.
6 Art keeps them amused
Those long, summer months are looming, which means that the kids will be cooped up for weeks on end. Unless you enjoy tearing your hair out, we suggest that you invest in some creative materials and embark on a major craft project. Combine the kitchen table art sessions with some soothing classical music (Mozart is a good bet) and enjoy the serenity that follows.
7 Even tiny tots can benefit
A session with play dough is brilliant at improving a toddler’s dexterity. Moulding and squeezing the dough works the muscles they’ll need in later years when holding pens and pencils. Make your own dough and add a few drops of mood-enhancing essential oils like lavender, mandarin or camomile to the mix for a tantrum-free time.
8 Art can teach them the value of recycling
Any old scrap material can be used in an artistic way. Store up all of your old bottle tops, yoghurt pots, magazines, ribbons, buttons and bits and encourage your children to use them as part of an artistic, 3D collage.
9 You’ll never buy birthday cards again
Nothing says that you care more for your friends than a homemade birthday card. Even little ones can get in on the act and produce some surprisingly good results. Just think: if you buy, on average, two birthday cards a month at Dhs20 a time, that’s a saving of Dhs480 per year.
10 Art is sociable
Pop your head around the door of any school art lesson and you’ll usually be deafened by the noise and chatter. Art projects where children work together on a design can be a brilliant way of building up their teamwork and negotiation skills.
Art class round-up
Best for drop-ins
Café Ceramique: Pop in and paint a piece of crockery while mum has a quiet coffee. Great for kids aged five and up.
From Dhs50, Sat-Thurs 8am-midnight, Fri 10am-midnight. Jumeirah Beach Road 04 344 7331, Dubai Festival City, 04 232 8616.
The JamJar: A hands-on art studio that offers three-hour sessions and all the materials you need to create a masterpiece.
Call ahead to book. Dhs90, Sat-Thurs 10am-9pm, Fri 2pm-9pm, behind Dubai Garden Centre, 04 341 7303.
Best for tots
Ductac: Join a hands-on mums-and-tots session where nippers aged 1-3 (and mums) get stuck into painting, tearing, scrunching, modelling and colour mixing. 10-11.30am.
Dhs90 plus Dhs20 for materials, 04 341 4777.
The Picasso Project: For tots aged 18 months to three years, this lively story-telling art session is great for channeling creativity.
Call ahead to book. Dhs75, 10.45am-11.30am. Al Areesh Club, Al Badia, 050 289 6735.
Fine Art for children: A four-week course for ages six to 12, in which kids learn about the lives of famous artists, how to use different mediums and the importance of art in our world. Dhs440, Sundays and Tuesdays, 2pm-5pm. Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, www.ductac.org, 04 341 4777.
Art for all
With Art Dubai and the Sharjah Biennial, March is definitely a month to celebrate art. Enter into the spirit with these family-friendly activities.
At the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation, kids can travel back in time by creating historical, geographical maps based on the originals. Saturday March 5, 11am onwards. Or why not create a sculpture that transmits light through its patterns and design, inspired by the building of Sharjah Museum of Art?
Saturday March 12, 11am onwards.
All aboard the Boat of Tolerance! Sharjah Maritime Museum is inviting kids to take part in this unique project that allows them to display their art work on the sail of a boat that represents peace and tolerance. This will definitely appeal to young imaginations.
Thursday March 17, 11am-1pm.
Thought square sets and protracters were boring? Then check out this START workshop at Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, where artist Stephen Meakin will introduce children to the ancient art of geometry and pattern-making.
Friday March 18, 4pm-7pm.
Collecting objects that would normally be thrown away and converting them into art is a favourite technique of many artists. Find out how they do it at the Art Dubai workshop with artist Basem Al Sayer.
Friday March 18, 3pm-6pm.
Find out more about these and other exhibitions and activities by visiting www.artdubai.ae.