This week I have parent conferences and I have been preparing for these meetings.  As kindergarteners going into first grade – every family wants to know how is their child doing; is their child ready?   I prepare a whole child snapshot to communicate where their child is at in cognitive development, social/emotional development, creative development, and physical development.

I was reminded this week as I looked at the cognitive development piece how much the arts work deeply to build critical brain processing capacities in children!  It is so powerful I am astonished more has not been written on it.  I am dumbfounded that school systems have not discovered the growth it can give those children who have delays.  The arts can raise achievement on levels that really matter for the life of a child.

During the year, I have collected different pieces of art and it provides me with such valuable information of how well this child is processing at very specific levels.  As I work with children on reading and writing – I can always go back to the arts and see how it reveals any processing issues and give me clues to providing what is missing in a child's development.   How incredible is that?  Art in and of itself – is an assessment tool.

Here's a quickie look at what I see and what I have come to understand through my studies – Reading, writing, and arithmetic require several foundational skills for success-

  • Discrimination – auditory, visual and haptic
  • Memory – auditory, visual, short term, long term, rote, and sequential

The arts build these so beautifully!  Just look at this fast picture of cognitive processing that is required in these simple activities:

Guided Drawing:

  1. Requires auditory perception – to interpret what is heard and follow the directions.
  2. Requires auditory memory – to take information presented orally and process that information.
  3. Requires visual memory – to actively retain visual information presented and process that image.
  4. Requires visual discrimination – to discriminate shapes and instructions visually in terms of foreground, background, form, size, and position in space.
  5. Requires sequential memory – to follow oral and visual instructions in order of presentation

Creating a multi-step Art Project: (such as Habitats, constructions, collages, etc)

  1. Requires receptive memory – to actively retain physical features of project and associated relationships
  2. Requires sequential memory – to recall and process instructions in order of presentation
  3. Requires short term memory – to recall teacher guidelines
  4. Requires visual discrimination – to relate to the field of construction, objects, and their positions.
  5. Requires auditory memory – to process effectively the instructions presented orally
  6. Requires auditory perception – to interpret and follow oral instructions

Oral Storytelling and Acting Out Fairy Tales:

  1. Requires auditory discrimination – to hear and identify words spoken
  2. Requires auditory perception – to recognize and interpret what is being spoken for meaning
  3. Requires auditory memory – to take in words spoken orally and process it for meaning and recall what was heard
  4. Requires sequential memory – to recall, in order, the events in the story
  5. Requires long term memory – to retrieve the story and recall it effectively


Another amazing fact!  The integration of the arts provides what children need at an individualized level.  When you guide children in a drawing – each child's work is reflective of where they are at on the developmental spectrum.  The children who lag in fine motor and visual discrimination skills need guided drawing as a pre-cusor to reading and writing.  Guided drawing trains the eyes and hands.  There is no need to form special pull out groups – all levels get addressed by the very nature of the activity and its deeper ability to pull out individual creative expression!

I will write more about my thoughts and ideas about what art processes I bring regularly and why I bring them.  I have had three interns in my classroom this year and the gift of that has been the reflection of what I do and why.  I know why but I don't always explain it on the deeper levels.  It is so exciting to have eager ears in your classroom.

Have a wonderful week!