I use art as an integral part of my educator’s toolbox. I don’t have any formal training in the arts. However, I do have personal experience of using drawing to deepen my own understanding of the world around me. You don’t need to be skilled in the arts to include art in your daily life. If you can draw a dot and a line, then you are ready.
Sitting down to draw what one sees forces us to slow down and think about the smallest details of something we might not otherwise see. The power of observation naturally leads to questions which leads to more learning.
When my children were about 5, I started bringing sketch pads with us on hikes, to parks and gardens. We would talk about what we saw and sit down to sketch something that they found interesting. Eventually, they would add text and questions to their journals. It didn’t matter what their drawings looked like, just that they were looking around and drawing their observations. We talked about shapes they saw to help them get their visions on paper. I’d ask about what was happening around an object they saw, whether it was daytime or night time and how we could show that in the picture.
For many kids, drawing is a stress free form of deepening understanding. Unfortunately, art is often missing from classrooms and not valued as a powerful learning tool. For centuries, naturalists and scientists used drawing to record their findings and lead their investigations. Everyone from Leonardo DiVinci and James Audubon to the father of neuroscience, Santiago Ramon y Cejal used art as part of their scientific education. You can read more about famous artist scientists here:
Currently, my youngest is studying trees and their relationship with mycology so drawing them and seeing how their leaf shapes and bark varies is part of understanding them.
What are you drawing and learning about?