Why is drawing important in education?
Adding some drawing to your curriculum, whether you are an art teacher or classroom teacher can benefit students in many ways. In this post, I will give you 6 ways you can help students develop physical, mental, and emotional skills through fun drawing ideas.
Here are 6 Benfits of Drawing
1) Fine Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination
The mechanics and mental reasoning used in drawing can be beneficial to students. I had a teacher report to me that her students’ penmanship improved after drawing. Learning to hold a pencil to make a drawing can help build the muscles and coordination they need to make tiny letters while making a fun drawing. Students won’t even know they are exercising their hands!
2) Problem-Solving, Spatial Reasoning, and Decision Making
When drawing, students are constantly comparing the lines they are making to the paper and other marks on the page. This shifting of their focus back and forth builds their spatial reasoning skills.
Drawing has its own visual language of lines, shapes, and angles. When students learn to break a drawing down into lines and shapes they are problem-solving how to make a drawing. When something doesn’t look right, they need to compare their drawing to the subject to see which lines, shapes, or angles need to be adjusted to make the drawing look right. Art teaches students that it’s important to step back, take a look at the big picture, then make decisions about how to proceed or what to correct. This is the artistic process.
Having drawing activities available to students during recess and free time will give them even more opportunities to benefit from drawing. My Roll & Draw games are a fun way for students to drawing while having fun.
3) Breaking a Problem Into Steps
Step-by-step drawing or directed drawing has its place in education. Doing a drawing that is led by a teacher or the instructions on a page can help students learn to follow directions. When they see that each step leads to the final result of a finished drawing, they are also learning that great things can be achieved one step at a time.
The pride and confidence students feel after completing a drawing will encourage them to keep drawing and boost their self-confidence. If they struggled to make the drawing they are learning that they can do hard things if they keep on trying.
4) Improved Memory
Drawing can be an exceptional way to record information. In this article by Edutopia, when students were asked to recall a set of words, the students that drew the words recalled more than twice as many words. This had less to do with “learning styles” and more to do with using multiple modalities.
Drawing taps into multiple modalities—visual, kinesthetic, and semantic—which is superior to tapping into only one. When students draw something, they process it in three different ways, in effect learning it three times over.
Have you ever tried sketch notes? This is a type of note-taking where students use visual symbols and hierarchy to arrange the information on a page. It might be as simple as making bullets under a heading made out of bubble letters. Or using a stick figure to represent a person with a quote in a speech bubble. The goal is to give students a mental image, the kinesthetic experience of making the visual image combined with the semantics of the information written within the sketch notes.
I have a Sketchnote Tools Box if you are interested in having your students try this out. It will give them some easy-to-draw visual elements they can add to their sketch notes.
5) Reduced Stress and Emotional Health
Drawing designs or doodling can occupy just enough of your consciousness to give your brain a break from stress so that it can process the emotions you are feeling. If I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, after I take a drawing break, I find that I can put things into perspective easier and figure out what I should do next to address a problem.
For me, this works best when I’m doing a doodle or some kind of drawing that doesn’t require a lot of problem-solving. Maybe I’m going over a sketch with ink or filling in areas with patterns or drawing designs.
One way to get started with a doodle is to let your pen or pencil wander slowly around your doodle space. Let the lines overlap and create interesting spaces. When you have a nice wandering line completed start filling in the spaces with patterns, design, faces, solid color, or whatever fits your fancy.
6) Focus & concentration
Doodling is a kind of drawing that happens without a lot of thinking or forethought. Some people report that they are better listeners while doodling and science seems to be backing up this idea.
Here’s a little experiment. Let students doodle while you read to them and see if this helps them retain more information.
For some people doodling comes naturally, for others, it helps to have a way to get started. Students can get started doodling by just drawing a circle over and over. They can overlap them, change the size and create patterns with them. From there they can use their imaginations to add to the doodle with more circles or whatever comes to their mind. They can add faces, patterns, designs, or color certain parts in.
How you can try this idea:
- Give students drawing material during their free time.
- Try some teacher-led directed drawing or step-by-step drawing.
- Have students try some sketch notes.
- Give students an opportunity to doodle when listening or when stressed.
- Read my blog posts about encouraging drawing with kids.
Drawing with Kids … You can do it!
The product of drawing is not just the picture they create. The process of drawing generates a variety of benefits that help students learn better, problem-solve, remember information, write neater, and feel better about themselves. Be sure to try some of the ideas in this blog post to enrich your classroom with drawing. Whether you are an art teacher, classroom teacher, or homeschool teacher, or parent wanting to enhance learning, there is a drawing activity that you can use.
Use this infographic to display in your room or share with parents, administrators, or other teachers as a way to point out some of the academic benefits of learning to draw. While they are not the only reason for using drawing as part of a balanced curriculum, they are certainly worthy of celebrating and may help you advocate for including drawing as part of your art or classroom learning experiences.
Join my email list to hear about new resources, sales, and tips for teaching art and drawing, and get 15% off your next order!
Continue the conversation in my FB group of art teachers: