Art and a child’s brain function

“Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself and connected to the world,” according to Dr. Christine Strang neuroscientist at University of Alabama Birmingham.

It turns out there’s a lot happening in our minds and bodies when we make art — any kind of art. Art enhances brain function and well-being whether a person suffers from PTSD or a young child is developing a healthy brain, fine motor skills, creativity, emotional balance, a sense of accomplishment or relieving stress. What does that mean for families? Provide some art basic art supplies in the home and sit down and do art with the kids in happy times, sad or angry times.

Free form

Art supplies don’t have to be extensive or expensive. Young children can have a box or cabinet of computer paper, colored construction crayons, markers, paints, Playdough, child scissors tape, glue and a place to display their art. Some children like postcard-size paper rather that big sheets. Some like a piece of paper the size of a table to keep adding to the scene and the story.

A few family members can sit down and join the little ones with soft music on, someone reading a book out loud or the pleasure of silence and room for conversation from time to time.

In free-form art, the artists are totally in charge, making what they want. If anyone is stuck, someone can suggest a topic to get the brain going: creating something happy or a recent family drama. It can be a walk in the woods, beach, hills, along the lake, in the snow. What is your favorite, most beautiful, most quiet, safest place to be? Do you want to paint sunshine, a forest, some animals, spaghetti, a cherry pie, peanut butter sandwich, sledding, dolphins jumping out of water, or grandpa?


Some children enjoy premade designs. Mandalas are beautiful art circles that are contained within a square and are found in most cultures. In their most basic form, mandalas are circles arranged into sections that are all organized around a single, central point. Mandala coloring books are found in most stores in the book section and are part of soothing art therapy for all ages. The purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing. Families find them relaxing and lots of fun. Check “How to Draw a Mandala” at art-is-fun.com.

There are many rewards of art in the family. It activates the hypothalamus and orbitofrontal cortex which are parts of brain associated with appetite regulation, calculating risk, impulse control, and detection of social rules.

For more, see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com: wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and pod casts; Facebook; Pinterest; and You Tube.


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